In a location that it has occupied for at least 3,000 years, Macerata is a lively town, if slightly off the main 'tourist trail' for the region, with plenty to distract you if you are passing your visit on the nearby coast or enjoying the countryside of the Marches.
Macerata has an interesting and attractive medieval centre, compact and easy to explore that is in a walled town on a small hill, and a pleasant place to visit and explore. The defensive walls that surround the old town date from the 14th century.
This historic centre, which is the part of the town of most interest to visitors, can either be entered by a lift from the new town below or by climbing the steep staircases that exist between the two parts of Macerata.
At the heart of Macerata, and where you will soon find yourself, is the Piazza della Liberta with its impressive merchants hall - the 16th century arcaded Loggia dei Mercanti.
The 18th century Rossi Theatre is just across the same square - be sure to check if anything is playing during your visit.
The surrounding streets also contain a number of impressive small palaces and buildings - stroll especially along the streets of Corso Matteotti and Corso della Repubblica. It also on Corso della Repubblica that you will find most of the shops and cafes.
One particular highlight here is Macerata cathedral, a late 18th century cathedral built in baroque style on the site of a much older church that faces a cobbled courtyard area. The belltower to the left of the facade dates from the 15th century. Various reputed art works can be seen in the chapels inside the cathedral.
You can also see several 'palazzos' in the central streets of Macerata (for example, Palazzo Compagnoni Marefoschi, Palazzo dei Diamanti and Palazzo Buonaccors) and the Palazzo Ricci which is now home to the town's Modern Art Gallery - this gallery is more interesting than you would expect in a small quiet Italian town.
You will also see the Sferisterio Arena, a 200 year old building in the neo-classical style that is designed to broadly look like a Roman arena. It is now best known as the setting for a popular opera festival held in Macerata each summer and highly reputed for its acoustics. The arena is an unusual design, essentially a stage overlooked by ranks of galleries but without a roof, that was originally designed as a games arena.
Another important religious monument is the Basilica of the Madonna of Mercy, while those with ahead for heights will appreciate the views from the clocktower.
There is a cluster of interesting museums including the Pinacoteca art museum, the town museum and a carriage museum in the Piazza Vittorio Veneto to the south-west of Macerata. In the Pinacoteca you can see some both Renaissance and modern works of art while the highlight in the town museum are the ancient remains from both the Roman era and the even older Picena tribe who first settled in the area around 1000 BC.
The new town in Macerata, in the region around the foot of the hill, has rather given way to new developments and industry and is of less interest to visitors.
A few kilometres north of Macerata are the archaological dig and Roman ruins of Helvia Recina, the Roman town that originally stood nearby.
Macerata is located in the south of the Le Marche region of Italy, in attractive countryside to the south-west of Loreto and just a few kilometres from the Adriatic Sea.
See the Marche guide for more travel ideas...