The great limestone massif that stands in the southern Marche includes one of the highest peaks on the Italian mainland - Monte Vettore at 2,476 mts - and
the wild tarns and windswept high plains of the Monti Sibillini provide some of the Marche's most spectacular landscapes. The whole area is a national park.
The mountains take their name from a legend that one of the sibyls - the prophetesses of classical mythology -
hid here in a cave on Monte Sibilla known as the Grotta delle Fate (Cave of the Furies) when she was chased out of the underworld.
The area still remains well off the usual tourist beat and its roads remain almost deserted apart from winter skiers and intrepid ramblers in high summer. Yet, for the
most part, though they twist about through some of the Marche's remotest areas, they are reasonably easy to drive.
Itinerary 6 will bring you up close to the mountains and
includes a detour into their heart to see some of the most memorable spots. Few of the remoter villages have petrol stations and you are well advised to fill up before setting out.
Chiselled by glaciers and limestone erosion, these mountains possess some outstanding natural sights.
These include the high tarn, Lago di Pilato (tradition makes the unlikely claim that Pontius Pilate is buried here), and the awesome Infernaccio Gorge. Other delights include the great upland plains which are a
mass of flowers in spring.
The most impressive, though most of it is really just over the border in Umbria rather than in the Marche, is the
Piano Grande below the village of Castelluccio, famous across Italy for its lentils.
For more information visit the national park website.