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Holiday in Le Marche

Le Marche, Italy's best kept secret.

Right next to Umbria, a cluster of eleven valley's is caught in between the Sibelline Mountains and the Adriatic Sea.

As far as you can see there are rolling hills, dropping eventually into the sea.

Without ever getting boring, because Le Marche is synonym for diversity. Each valley has its own scenery. Tutta l'Italia in una regione!

Geographically this means something for everyone: mountains for the skiers and hikers, hills for the bikers and dreamers, beaches for the joggers and sea aficionado's.

Looking for culture? Places like Urbino, Ascoli Piceno, Fermo, Gradara, Jesi and San Leo are not to be missed. Apart of the absolute highlights, expect a surprise behind every corner: a roman church, an amazing painting or piece of sculpture, a walled medieval village or castle, a renaissance palazzo or an inviting piazza.

And of course Le Marche is Italy, which means wonderful food and drinks. Every valley has its own gastronomic varieties. Famous local wines are the Verdicchio, the Falerio, the Rosso Piceno and the Rosso Conero.

Let's try them out!


Le Marche People and Places

Ascoli Piceno

The town of Ascoli Piceno is the southern Marche's major centre, a place you can see in a day yet never forget. Start at the Piazza del Popolo, the traffic-free, travertine-paved main square. This beautifully proportioned outdoor meeting place must be one of the most elegant provincial squares in all Italy. To one side of the square stands the Palazzo del Popolo, a splendid 13th century building . Closing off one end of the piazza is the great Gothic church of San Francesco, a sober but pleasing building both inside and out.
The other main square, Piazza Arringo, is almost as impressive as its big sister and is flanked by the Duomo, or cathedral, and the town hall, or palazzo Comunale with its Pinacoteca Civica, Ascoli's art gallery. Inside the Duomo look out for the colourful polyptch with the Madonna and Saints by Carlo Crivelli.

Carlo Crivelli

His paintings have been described as one of the major achievements of Northern Italian art in the Quattrocento. All of Crivelli's pictures are of religious subjects. His style was highly individual, with a strong element of Late Gothic fantasy. He had a masterly technique and extravagant attention to detail. Vittore Crivelli, who worked in Le Marche at about the same time, was probably Carlo's younger brother, though never his equal as a painter. It seems that they also occasionally worked together. Le Marche have a particularly fine collection of Crivelli's work. Fortunately, many of his paintings remain = in the churches for which they were painted.

Loreto

With the exception of Lourdes, the most frequently visited place of pilgrimage. The story tells that the cottage of Nazareth, where the Holy Family lived, was borne away by angels and brought to Loreto... The great dome of the Sanctuario della Santa Casa dominates the countryside for miles around. It is a showcase of work by many of the most celebrated names of Late Renaissance Italy and gives even the unbeliever good reason to come here. Started on Gothic lines, later architects including Bramante and Sansovino gave the church a thorough Late Renaissance treatment. At the bottom of the right nave are the church's greatest artistic treasurers - gem-stone coloured frescoes in the Sacristy of St Mark by Merlozzo da Forli, and Luca Signorelli's noble frescoes in the nearby Sacristy of St John.

Federico da Montefeltro

Federico da Montefeltro was born in 1422 to a small-time noble family that ruled over an insignificant square of the chess-board that was then central Italy. Yet within sixty years he had become 'the light of Italy' and the paradigm of Renaissance man, as skilled in letters as in arms. His famous portrait, by Piero della Francesca, shows his left profile; a swordblow earlier in his life had cost him his right eye and the bridge of his nose.

Lago di Pilato

A glacial, demonic lake, located in the middle of the Sibillini Mountains. Pilate's lake where, it is said, Pontius Pilate was beheaded and his body thrown in to the waters.The lake in fact turns red every summer thus re-fuelling the legend (although this has more to do with the mating colours of tiny primeval shrimplets which inhabit the lake).


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