Marche Things to Do
Every trip to Italy is an endless journey into culture and beauty. No other country in the world can boast the cultural and artistic treasures of Italy. More than half's historical and artistic heritage is found in Italy. Evidence can be seen in every village. There are so many art treasures of such quality, spread across the country that Italy can rightly be considered an "open air" art gallery.
Each year is packed with special events, some linked to festivals of the Catholic Church, others to the changing seasons. Every little village in Italy has its own wonderful festivals. Many are associated with the harvest (especially wine) or to local products (polenta, prosciutto). The remainder tends to be historical re-enactments linked to jousting or to costumed cavalcades.
Art and culture, the pleasures of good food and music, traditional crafts and expressions of collective religion, folklore and contemporary art, opera and operetta, concert and theater seasons, in Italy the calendar of festivals and events is practically endless.
Discovering the Apennine Mountains
Wherever you may find yourself in Marche, the Apennine Mountains are never very far away. They form Marche's western border and offer some of its finest scenery as well as providing a home for some of Marche's most fascinating wildlife. Large areas have now been designated natural parks.
The Parco Naturale dei Monti Sibillini, in the southwest corner, is Marche's largest park, spreading over 25 miles of mountain peaks and continuing westwards into Umbria. The mountains take their name from a legend that one of the sibyls hid in a cave on Monte Sibilla known as Grotta delle Fate (Cave of the Furies) when she was chased out of the underworld.
Monte Vettore, at the center of the park, is the highest mountain in the region. The huge rocky walls and crags in its eastern side, with such eerie names as Pizzo del Diavolo's Beard and Inferna's Gorge, are every bit as dramatic as the landscape of the Dolomites.
The most unusual feature of the area, however, is the Piano Grande, a vast area of treeless plains to the west. In May and June, this huge, featureless plateau, is transformed into a carpet of wild flowers. You will find wild tulips and exotic alpine flowers such as carex buxbaumii.
The Torricchio Riserva Naturale, just north of the Monte Sibillini park, is a small World Wildlife Fund reserve covering around 800 acres. The Val di Tazza at its centre is a narrow gorge flanked by the wooded slopes of Monte Torricchio and Monte Fema. The area is particularly rich in flowers; animals include badgers, red squirrels, wildcats, and the occasional wolf.
Monte Conero, just south of Ancona provides the only really rugged coastline in Le Marche, rising spectacularly out of the sea. The park boasts over a thousand species of wild plants, as well as a rich bird life.
The Gola della Rossa-Frasassi regional park, in the area of Genga, is a series of towering limestone gorges which provide the rocky habitat for several golden eagles as well as peregrine falcons and eagle owls. The Frasassi caves, in the heart of the area, are the longest and among the most interesting in Italy; the central chamber of the caves is large enough to comfortably hold the whole Milan Cathedral.
Carnevale, Ascoli Piceno
Carnevale is one of Italy's liveliest, beginning on the Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday preceding Ash Wednesday.
Carnevale of Fano, February, Fano
The Rite of Bov Fint, Carnevale, February, Offida
A symbolic ox gets the worst of a mob of locals dressed in the traditional white tunic with red borders called a guazzaro as the end of carnival is celebrated.
Festa della Madonna di San Giovanni, May, Ripatransone
Otherwise known as the "Fire Horse", this festival consists of a huge model horse going up in a spectacular combination of flames and fireworks.
Palio della Rana, first Sunday after Easter, Fermignano
The frogs don't actually race themselves but cling on for dear life as they ride in wheelbarrows being hurled through the streets.
Festa del Covo, July, Petritoli
This is an ancient display of devotion with pre-Christian roots that honors the gods of the land and harvest.
Contesa del Secchio, Sant'Elpidio a Mare
This is a recreation of a 15th-century competition between the four quarters of the town; the sport is almost a medieval basketball, with the participants trying to throw a leather ball into a well.
La Quintana, Ascoli Piceno, August
On the first Sunday of August, La Quintana is held. This event is based on a 14th-century festival, which took place in honor of Saint Emidio. It's the most authentic "medieval" goings-on in Marche and includes jousting's main square.
Festa del Duca, August, Urbino
A jamboree in honor of Duke Federico, the Festa del Duca is a superb Medieval pageant in the historical heart of this perfect Renaissance town.
Palio dell'Oca, August, Cagli
Participants compete in medieval games to win a golden goose in mid-August.
Mondavio Wild Board Hunt, August, Mondavio
A Medieval chase in the square.
Festa dell'Aquilone, September, Urbino
Kite-flying competition between different cities.
Major music festivals and concerts
Cantamaggio, April, Pioraco
Rustic rhymes and songs to welcome spring
Open air opera, Summer, Macerata, arena Sferisterio
Fano Jazz by the Sea, July, Fano
The Rossini Opera Festival, August, Pesaro
Il Violino e la Selce, July-August, Fano
An open air season of modern music, dance, and opera with an impressive array of artists.
Early Music Festival, July, Urbino
Blues Festival, July, San Severino Marche
Ancona Jazz Festival, November, Ancona
Ascoli Piceno, third weekend of each month, Cloister of S. Francesco Church, Via Trivio. Apart from the absolutely beautiful setting, this is a good place for bargains in ceramics.
International Dance Festival, July, Osimo
Teatro Classico, July and August, Falerone and Urbisaglia
Classical theatre productions staged in two of Marche's finest Roman amphitheatres
International Theatre Festival, August-September, Amandola