In the Middle Ages, a march meant a border province of the Holy Roman Empire, usually an unsettled frontier held by one of the Emperor's fighting barons (called marchesati). Today, The Marches (Marche) refers to a region in Italy that combines three of those early frontiers: Marca di Fano, Marca di Camerino, and Marca di Ancona.
With its origins as a frontier, Marche offers few large cities, but instead it has an enchanting rural patchwork of old towns, hill country, sandy beaches, historic locales, and lovely landscapes. Here you find the birthplace of It's greatest Romantic poet and one of the most important shrines to the Virgin Mary. You'll discover the Renaissance art towns of Urbino and Ascoli Piceno, and scores of fine old rosy-brick villas in the valleys that lead up to the impressive snowy peaks of the Sibilline Mountains, one of the highest sections of the Apennines Mountains.
The highlights of Marche include the palm-lined boardwalk of San Benedetto del Tronto, the untainted windy streets of Ascoli Piceno, and the hidden beauty of Ancona; in addition, Raphael and Donato Bramante, geniuses of the Renaissance, left their legacy in Urbino. In fact, the legacies of Marche's earliest inhabitants are visible throughout the region, with artifacts and ruins from the Gauls, Picenes, and Romans scattered around the foothills of the Apennines.
Tucked away in a corner between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine mountains, Marche forms the eastern seaboard of central Italy with the regions of Emilia-Romagna to the north and Abruzzo to the south. Wherever you may find yourself in Marche, the Apennines Mountains are never very far away. They form a natural boundary with Umbria and Tuscany to the west and offer some of its finest scenery, as well as providing a home for some of its most fascinating wildlife.
Sleepy Marche is waking up. Today, probably as many people travel to Marche for its beaches and towns as for its hilly, unspoiled interior. Especially beautiful are the snowcapped peaks of the Monti Sibillini, situated in magnificent walking and skiing country. Famous for one of the most dramatic coastlines in the entire country, from steep cliffs that stand almost perpendicular to the sea, to wide spacious beaches, Marche represent a new frontier: emerald landscapes and hill towns, new culinary discoveries, surprises from the Renaissance, and fewer tourists to share them with.