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A Quick Tour of Italy - the Marche Region

By: Levi Reiss
If you are hankering for a European tourist destination, why don't you consider the Marche region of central Italy? Depending on your specific interests, the Marche may be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. And the Marche region hasn't yet been discovered by tourists. There's a tradeoff; you won't have to fight the crowds to see what you want to see. On the other hand, it's hard to find fancy hotels. And the roads are not always the best, not much of a surprise when you consider the region's hilly terrain. We'll start our tour of this region in the north and work our way south.

The little town of Urbino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was a great center of learning in the past. The University is home to approximately twenty thousand students, considerably more than Urbino's resident population of approximately fifteen thousand. You can also visit the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche (National Gallery of The Marche) with Titian's Resurrection and Last Supper. The city also contains several Renaissance churches that are well worth visiting.

Given that the great Renaissance painter Raphael was an Urbino native, it's not very surprising that this town is home to the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche (National Gallery of The Marche) located in the Palazzo Ducale (Duke's Palace). Would you believe that this beautiful Renaissance building doesn't contain much of his work? On the other hand, you can find Titian's Resurrection and Last Supper there. The Casa Natale di Raffaello (Birthplace of Raphael) displays a Madonna fresco which is definitely associated with Raphael. But experts have not yet determined if he painted it himself or if his father painted it and Raphael and his mother served as models. The city also contains several Renaissance churches that are well worth visiting.

The port city of Ancona was largely destroyed during World War II. Its attractions include the Twelfth Century Duomo di San Ciriaco (Saint Ciriaco Cathedral) and the Romanesque Santa Maria della Piazza.

Ascoli Piceno is a valley town home to some fifty thousand people. You will want to tour the Piazza del Populo (Square of the People) and the Thirteenth Century Palazzo dei Capitani del Populo (Palace of the People's Captains) and several other historic churches. You should try to get to Ascoli Piceno on the first Sunday in August to enjoy Renaissance costume parade and jousting tournament.

The Marche boasts many regional specialties, such as brodetto (fish soup) with thirteen kinds of fish and seafood. See our companion article I Love Touring Italy - The Marche Region for a sample menu and more information on Marche wines as well as an in-depth examination of its tourist attractions. The region is home to two red DOCG (the G stands for Guarantita) wines, the Montepulciano-Sangiovese based Rosso Conero Riserva and the Vernaccia di Serrapetrona based on a local grape.
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