You would be forgiven for thinking that this striking setting belongs to the northern Italian Lakes and yet you can find this gem of a lake, Lake Fiastra, in one of the forgotten regions of Italy. Le Marche (the Marches) is a lovely collaboration of nature and art, but still relatively unknown to many travellers and yet you won’t find a more enticing slice of unknown Italy.
Wedged between the Apennines and the Adriatic sea, Le Marche has stunning mountains, sandy beaches and landscapes of hills that melt, layer after layer into the horizon, not unlike the Tuscan countryside. The Romans called this region the Annonaria or ‘grain supply’ and a name that’s enough to give any place an identity crisis. In recent years it has been slowly rediscovered and called the ‘new Tuscany’, although in my opinion it has a charm all of its own.
If it’s historic hill towns that you are after then you will be charmed by Urbino. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s a picturesque Renaissance town and the capital of Le Marche and it was indeed at its peak during the 15th century, when Duke Federico da Montefeltro established here one of Europe’s most illustrious courts. Its impressive Duchal Palace houses one of the most important collections of Renaissance paintings in Italy.
If like me you are always in search of the coastline and seek out the best spots where to relax, you cannot miss exploring the Conero Riviera, Surrounded by rocky mountains and a beautiful Regional Park, this breathtaking landscape shaped by the wind and the sea is one of the most stunning maritime environments of this region. The Riviera boasts several picturesque towns such as Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati and Portonovo, all of which offer the opportunity for water and beach sports, relaxation and fun.
Le Marche have a special place in my heart, as it was on one of those never-ending beaches that I fell head over heels in love with the most handsome boy in town and my holiday there as a teenager is forever etched in mind! Whether you are sporty or prefer lounging on one of those wonderful beaches, you love getting lost in one of its many hill towns, where you can breathe in history and feel transported to another time, or you are a nature lover always in search of breathtaking vistas, then look further than this region, where you can have it all at a fraction of the price of Tuscany!