Marche, Italy: 5 villages worth visiting this fall

Italy: 5 beautiful villages

Cinque Terre, or the Five Lands of Liguria, is an eight-kilometer stretch of rocky coastline by the Ligurian Sea. There are five small villages in this area – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The whole area is considered a national park of Italy and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most unpolluted areas of the Mediterranean coast and is almost completely forbidden to automobile traffic.

Cinque Terre is very rare in Italy. There are no significant monuments, no antiquities, but there are amazing views. Those who are tired of the stale air of museums and ancient churches come here to relax on the indescribably beautiful Italian nature. There are mountains, think, greenery, cliffs, sea and coves, and it’s all so picturesque that people go here like crazy.

01. You can get to Cinque Terre from La Spezia by a small train.

You can get to Cinque Terre in La Spezia by taking the small train, which leaves every half hour and stops at every station (there are five in every village).

To get on the train you need to buy a “Cinque Terre Pass” card. With it you can ride the train in any direction during the day. Also with this card you can get free access to some of the attractions.

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05. The police ask you to watch your belongings.

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08. Before leaving for Cinque Terre, you can take a walk in La Spezia. It is the military and industrial center of Italy. There is a large commercial port, shipyards, engineering plants and naval base.

09. Tourists come here too, but most of them do not stay here long because there are many much more famous resorts in the area.

10. Things used to be different though. In the old days, La Spezia was regularly visited by many famous poets and writers, including Byron, Shelley, Sand, Lawrence and many others.

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12. this is Riomaggiore, one of the villages of Cinque Terre, the closest to La Spezia.

13. The village of Riomaggiore was founded around the 13th century. Back then, the locals grew vineyards and made wine. Little has changed since then.

14. The village is located near a small bay, there is a small beach and a pier for boats.

15. There used to be a creek here called Remus Major, but then it dried up and disappeared.

16. From the beach to the mountains stretches the main street of the village with restaurants, bars, and stores. At the highest part of Riomaggiore are a medieval church and the ruins of a castle.

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18. According to legend, the village was founded by a group of Greek refugees who were fleeing the power of a harsh ruler.

19. Houses in Riomaggiore usually have 3 or 4 stories. They are all built on the tower type and painted in traditional colors.

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22. Here you can rent a boat or book a tour along the coast of Cinque Terre. This is another way to travel between villages, in addition to the railroad and walking paths.

23. Renting a boat costs from 80 euros per hour.

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25. And this is the next village of Manarola. The name Manarola comes from the Latin phrase “manim arula,” which translates as an altar to the god Mani (this is the Roman god of the house)

26. Manarola is the quietest village in Cinque Terre and usually has the fewest tourists. It is connected to neighboring Riomaggiore by a picturesque pedestrian road called the Trail of Love.

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29. Here we go!

30. The next village is Vernazza.

31. It was founded around 1000, and its name comes from an old Roman family.

32. Vernazza was once the most prosperous town in Cinque Terre. Many medieval monuments of architecture have been preserved here.

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35. It even has its own port, the only one in Cinque Terre.

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37. There are also elements of the fortress wall, built against pirates. Pirate raids were very common in the 15th century.

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41. Nowadays, the area grows grapes and produces local chin (a common occupation for all the villages in Cinque Terre). Vernazza has more than doubled in size thanks to the wine trade.

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46. Such narrow streets with stairs are very common in Vernazza.

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48. View from above.

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50. Coast of Cinque Terre

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53. The last village is Monterosso. It too is surrounded by vine and olive groves.

54. There are very beautiful beaches and cliffs. The town itself is located on the hill of San Christoforo. There you can also find the ruins of a medieval castle.

55. In the past, Monterosso was defended by 13 towers, but only three have survived.

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The Marche

The Marche region is located in eastern Italy, on the Adriatic Sea. Its capital is Ancona. The history of the area has changed hands one after the other: first it was ruled by the ancient Greeks, then by the Romans, after them the Goths invaded. After the Byzantine domination, the lands passed to the ancient Germans, from whom they got their name (mark – region). There are many shipyards, well developed tourism, trade and fishing. The region is famous for well developed light industry: the fashionable Italian shoes which are popular all over the world, are made mainly by Marche craftsmen, so you should come here for shopping at least.

Marche region

The capital of

The administrative center of one of the five provinces of the region, Ancona is the capital and largest city in the Marche with a population of about 100 thousand people. It is a major port and a world-famous balneological resort. Ancona has many monuments of antiquity, preserved since ancient times. The city is very popular among tourists but even the Italians come here to improve their health, or to walk around the surrounding hills. Not far from Ancona in the late 1940s, speleologists discovered the caves of Frasassi (Grotte di Frasassi), which became one of the main attractions of the region. The total length of the underground labyrinth is about 30 kilometers; one of the caves once housed the monastery of the Catholic order of sylvestrines.

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Monuments of Ancona, which left behind the Roman era – the Arch of Trajan (Arco di Traiano) and dilapidated amphitheater (Anfiteatro romano). It is to them that many tourists go first; it is not every day that you see a work of human hands created at the dawn of our era, in 115 (the amphitheater is even older).

Ancona

A cathedral, traditional for every Italian city, several churches of X-XI centuries, ancient palazzos – there is a lot to see in Ancona. Its convenient location makes the city attractive even for those who originally did not plan a trip here: it’s hard to resist the temptation to spend just 2-3 hours on the way and see unique buildings and monuments. The nearest popular resort, Rimini, is only 100 km away. From Rimini to Ancona along the coast it will take you about 1.5 hours by rented car, and about an hour by regional train.

Major cities

In addition to the province of Ancona with the center of the same name, the Marche includes four more. Pesaro is the second largest city in the Marche (a little over 90 thousand people), it is the center of the province of Pesaro e Urbino (Provincia di Pesaro e Urbino). Next in descending order are Fano, Ascoli Piceno – the center of the province of the same name, Macerata and Fermo. The last two cities are the centers of the provinces of the same name.

Pesaro

Pesaro is above all a resort town. It’s not too hot in summer, pretty warm in winter and 8 km of beaches lures locals and visitors. It is easy to get here by train from Rome, Bologna and Ancona; a regular bus service connects the city with Rome and Ancona.

Pesaro was the birthplace of Gioachino Rossini, so the main “attraction” for tourists is his house. The cost of admission is from 8 to 10 euros. Not surprisingly, the city theater (Teatro Rossini) is named after the famous composer.

For other places of interest in Pesaro, it is worth paying attention to the ancient Villa Imperiale. It is famous for having been home for decades to the Dukes of Sforza, the main rivals of the Medici dynasty. The beautiful mansion is situated on the top of a hill, which offers a beautiful view over the city.

Pesaro

If you are going to Pesaro, plan your schedule so that your stay coincides with the third Sunday of the month. The city’s festival La Stradomenica is held on this day. Not only can you have fun amongst the townsfolk, but you can also take advantage of the town’s bargains, with sales, bazaars, and special prices in cafés and restaurants.

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The city of Fano was well known in ancient Rome. At that time it was called the “temple of Fortune” (Fanum Fortunae). The city’s ancient past is evidence of the city’s fortress wall, partly preserved to this day, as well as the Arch of Augustus (Arco d’Augusto). It was built by Emperor Augustus in the early years of our era. Today, the arch is a symbolic gateway of the city and is its main tourist attraction.

Another gate, the Porta della Mandria, is less often mentioned in guidebooks and less known to tourists, but no less interesting. They are part of the old city walls which the Romans encircled the city and were in a ruined state until 1925.

Fano, the Malatesta Castle

One of the must-see places when visiting Fano is the Palazzo Malatesta. This palazzo was built at the beginning of the 14th and 15th centuries by Pandolfo Malatesta, a nobleman who ruled Rimini for 200 years and was known for his cruelty and opposition to church laws. The castle now houses an archaeological museum with a vast and interesting exposition.

Ascoli Piceno

The ancient and beautiful Ascoli Piceno is not always given much attention in guidebooks, although it is home to many unique historical and architectural monuments.

The city is considered one of the most beautiful in the region because many of the buildings in its center are made of travertine, a lime tuff in the color of beige.

To understand what we are talking about, imagine the Colosseum in Rome, also made of travertine. The entire center of Ascoli, including the squares and sidewalks, is exactly that – beige, with a pink or pearly gray hue.

The heart of the city is Piazza del Popolo, or People’s Square. It is ornate and solemn, not for nothing many people consider it one of the most beautiful in Italy. Closed around its perimeter by the walls of monumental historical buildings, it looks like a grand hall, above which there is no ceiling – only a bright blue sky. The effect is stunning, especially if you stand facing the hills that can be seen behind the buildings surrounding the square.

Ascoli Piceno

The city’s cathedral, named after Ascoli Piceno’s patron saint Emigdio (Cattedrale di Sant’Emidio), is radically different from the major churches of other Italian cities. The iconic structures were located on the site of the cathedral in the IV-V centuries, and its oldest parts date back to the VIII-IX centuries. In the XI century was built crypt for the relics of the saint. The cathedral acquired its present appearance in the 1530s, when its facade was dismantled and rebuilt.

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In the city there are many monuments of antiquity. There are whole streets built by the ancient Romans, walking through which, very well understand how old this city. One of the surviving buildings of that era is the bridge over the river Tronto. It is 62 meters long and 6.5 meters wide. Experts believe the bridge was built during the reign of Emperor Augustus, not later than the second decade of our era.

Macerata

Among the most famous buildings in Macerata is the university, founded in 1290 by Pope Nicholas IV. It is considered one of the oldest in Europe.

One of the amazing places in the city, which has no analogues, is the Arena Sferisterio. The arena was built in 1829 and resembles to some extent those of ancient Roman circuses. It was intended for a sports game, popular in Italy since ancient times. At the beginning of the XX century interest in this entertainment died down, and now the structure is used for opera and ballet productions and music festivals.

Macerata

Another unusual building in Macerata is the so-called Diamond Palace (Palazzo dei Diamanti). The palazzo dei Diamanti was built in XVI century and got its name because of the outside facing. The facade of the building is entirely covered with stones, cut in a special way – as if they were faceted.

Urbino

Urbino is a unique city, a must-see. Its peculiarity is that for its more than modest size it is a real cultural center of the region. Urbino is home to around 15 and a half thousand people. At the same time – attention! – The city is also home to about the same number of students at the local university.

The University of Urbino (Università degli Studi di Urbino) was founded at the beginning of the 16th century, first as a medical school and later expanding the list of disciplines.

Urbino itself was founded in the 4th century BC. Its main buildings, built during the Renaissance, are almost entirely preserved to this day, so the historic appearance of the city has come down to us unchanged. The main decoration of the city, the Ducal Palace (Palazzo Ducale) of the XV century, is included in the list of World Heritage Sites. The Residence of the Dukes of Urbino was not finished, but even so it is a unique monument of a bygone era.

Urbino

Two other notable examples of architecture from different years are the Church of San Bernardino, built in 1491 and the neoclassical Duomo di Urbino, built in 1801.

The house of the great Raffaello Santi, a native of Urbino, cannot be overlooked. The exhibition dedicated to one of the best painters in the world, since the XIX century, is located in the house where he was born. The personal belongings of the artist and his family have not survived; the furniture and other furnishings in the museum are typical of that time. The museum is open daily, the price of admission is 3.5 euros.

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The easiest way to get to Urbino is from Pesaro, which can be reached by train from Bologna or Ancona. From Pesaro to Urbino there is a bus. The fare is 3 euros, travel time is from 45 minutes to a little over an hour. The 35 kilometers between the two cities can also be traveled by cab, the average price is 45 euros.

Resort Marche

Since the Marche and the sea are inextricably linked, it is impossible not to mention the resorts of the region. Let’s list the main ones, “moving” from the north of the coast to the south.

Gabicce Mare and Gabicce Monte are a single resort, consisting of two levels, “beach” and “mountain”, located on top of the hill. Below there are hotels, beaches and promenades; above there are restaurants, noisy bars and discos.

Pesaro: The town has about 8 km of beaches, of which three are municipal beaches. The beaches are mostly sandy, the entry is shallow and the depths are shallow.

Fano has two beaches – the pebbly Spiaggia Sassonia along which the locals love to stroll in the evenings and the sandy Spiaggia Lido, more suitable for sunbathing and bathing and therefore more popular. The farther away from the city center, the more likely you are to find a free, quiet, uncrowded beach.

Gabicce Mare

A little further into Fano and towards Ancona lies Senigallia. Its long (more than 13 km) resort area called Spiaggia Di Velluto, the “velvet beach”, is known as almost the best beach of the Adriatic coast.

South of Fano and Ancona all the way to San Benedetto del Tronto, along the coast there are many small towns and villages offering tourist services: Portonovo, Sirolo and others. One of them, Civitanova Marche, is also well known to tourists seeking the Marche not only to wander the historic streets, but also to relax in the comfort of the seaside resorts.

San Benedetto del Tronto, located in the south of the Marche, is one of the main centers of resort life of the region. Its main attraction is the long palm alley that runs parallel to the coastline. It has seven thousand trees. If you are looking for more secluded relaxation away from the expensive hotels and noisy restaurants, then you can treat yourself to a romantic stroll along the beaches around the town of Numana to the south of Sirolo and take a boat to the coast in search of a deserted cove.

Halfway between Sirolo and San Benedetto del Tronto, not far from Fermo, there is a place called Porto Sant’Elpidio: there is a pine forest along the coast.

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