The Le Marche region is on the Adriatic coast of central-eastern Italy, backed by the Apennine mountains, and has fine beaches, ancient hillside villages and beautiful scenery.
Marches - a guide and places to visit
The region is often referred to as the Marches of Italy by English speaking nations.
The small independent republic of San Marino is to the north of the region - crowded but very popular for the citadel atop the hill and for the novelty value.
Slightly to the south, the important renaissance town of Urbino is the main city in the region and the greatest highlight in the north (the Ducal Palace in particular will detain and impress you), while nearby Urbania a little way to the south-west of Urbino also has an attractive historical town centre.
A little further south and you can visit the historical town at Cagli.
On the coast of Le Marche the towns of Pesaro and the port town of Ancona are the busiest centres of activity although there are also several good resorts to be found and many, many beaches - the coastal resorts attract a great many visitors to this part of Italy.
Particularly noteworthy near here is the town of Fano (on the coast south of Pesaro) which features several very impressive examples of Renaissance architecture.
In the southern half of Marche and a little way inland you can visit Recanati, best known for the famous Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi, while further south along the coast in the Marche region and also a little way inland is the hill town of Fermo,
Apart from the beaches the scenic highlight of the coast is the landscape and small towns of the Conero peninsula and Monte Conero.
Heading inland into Le Marche, the highlights are the many pretty villages that you encounter - many with no particular monument or historically interesting building but each having its own appeal and characteristics.
The town of Fabriano is also to the west of Marche, and as a cave lover I can't fail to mention the cave system at Frasassi - one of the finest cave systems in Europe, and also one of the largest - remarkably this Marche cave system was only discovered in the 1970's.
Continuing west the scenery of Mount Sibillini awaits, with the impressive snow-capped mountains also being popular for hiking and skiing holidays (also covered under Umbria in this guide).
Towards the south of Marche, Ascoli Piceno is the largest town in the south of the region.
Marches highlights - a photo gallery
Most Beautiful Villages - Marche
The following Italian towns and villages in Marche are listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy': Cingoli / Corinaldo* / Esanatoglia / Gradara* / Grottammare* / Matelica / Montecassiano* / Montefabbri* / Montefiore dell'Aso / Montelupone* / Moresco* / Offida* / San Ginesio / Sarnano / Treia* / Visso*
Orange Flag Tourism towns in the Marches
The following Italian towns and villages in Marche are listed among the 'Orange flag towns in Italy' (a national tourist award): Acquaviva Piceno / Corinaldo / Genga / Gradara / Mercatello on Metauro / Mondavio / Montecassiano / Montelupone / Monterubbiano / Ostra / Pievebovigliana / Ripatransone / San Gines / Sarnano / Urbisaglia