Starting at the provincial capital at Ascoli, this route beats a path up to the wild heights of the Sibillini Mountains before heading back down to the more homely coastal towns.
Instead of heading back to the sea you could follow the detour that will take you deep into the mountains and over into the spectacular Umbrian
landscapes below Castelluccio - be warned, however, that distances in the mountains are long and roads are difficult and slow.
You could also cut the tour short at Sarnano and head up to follow itinerary 5 from Camerino or Tolentino instead of going down to the coast.
You will have already spent at least a day wandering around beautiful Ascoli Piceno before heading north-west to
Amandola. Here you will have your first proper view of the limestone giants of the Sibillini Mountains.
Now you can branch off to take a detour up into the peaks. First comes the striking mountain stronghold of Montefortino. Here you can either make a further dead-end detour to the awe-inspiring Infernaccio Gorge
carved through the rock by the river Tenna, or head on to the village of Montemonaco where a twisting strada panoramica will take you up to the top of Monte Sibilla at 2175 mts for incredible views. Now you can head on to
Montegallo then, around Monte Vettore, the highest peak in the Marche, to Forca di Presta and Castelluccio
on the border between Umbria and the Marche. The high plateau below the village, known as the Piano Grande, must be one of the most moody landscapes in all Italy. It is also celebrated for
its lentil crop.
If you decide not to brave the mountain detour head north-west from Amandola for Sarnano,
a splendid town with an outstanding medieval quarter that refuses to stay on the level. Then begin the journey eastwards towrds the sea. First port of call is San Ginesio, a delightful small town with a strong medieval stamp and breathtaking views of the mountains.
Then make a stop at Urbisaglia to see the remains of Urbs Salvia,
the Marche's most impressive Roman ruins. A short drive further on is the atmospheric Fiastra Abbey, a delightful place for a picnic,
From here you can either make for Macerata or follow the fast road to the sea and the beach at