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Useful Information

The region Marche is located in the Eastern-Central part of Italy; and are touched to the East by the Mar Adriatico. The territory is mostly mountainous (69%), and plains can only be found close to the coasts.
Marche is a charming mosaic of ancient cities rich of history, hill towns and long sandy beaches like Pesaro, Fano and Portonovo, which attract a great number of tourists every year.
The region is crossed by the Appennino Umbro-Marchigiano and in part by the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano. In the northern territory the highest mountain tops do not pass the 2,000 meters, but going more to the south we can find the Monti Sibillini, with the Monte Vettore being the highest mount in the region, 2,478m, where people go for trips or to practice winter sports.

The scenario is mountainous and with bare vegetation, in fact on the mountains themselves all that can be seen are some bushes and some woods. The hill zone forms a territory 20 to 30km away from the coast.
In the Appennino it is possible to find many passages leading to Umbria. The most important ones are the Passo della Scheggia, the Bocca Serriola, the Fossato di Vico and the Colfiorito.

The Adriatic Coast extends for almost 170km and has a flat and straight panorama, alternating sandy and rocky beaches. The only place where it interrupts in the cliff of Monte Conero, where a small gulf can be seen which gave birth to the port of Ancona. The Conero cliffs are famous for their wild scenarios, with bays and pictoresque localities, but also from the famous wine, the "Rosso del Conero".
The Conero cliffs, even though it is only 600m high, has an influence on the climate in the coastal zones. In the northern part above the Conero, the northern winds make the winter very harsh.

In the southern part, before the arrival of the Romans, the Piceni used to inhabit the region, an Italic population, while the Gauls and the Senons were confined along the coasts. With the Roman conquer, this zone was then called "Picenum"; during this period of time the old Roman roads were built, like the Via Flamina and the Via Salaria, which still exist at the present day as modern roads. It took around ten centuries before the territory would be known as Marche.

In ancient German, "mark" meant border land, in fact the zone become the border of the Holy Roman Empire. The feuds that the emperors gave to the nobles were called "marchesati", hence the name of Marca di Fano, Marca di Camerino and Marca di Ancona. This explains why, even though it's only one region, its name is plural.

Some jewels of the region are undoubtedly Urbino, Loreto and Ascoli Piceno, but the hills in the interior hide little characteristic towns and cities. One of the most beautiful is San Leo, with its imposing fortress mentioned by Dante in his Purgatory.
Urbino and its history rotate around the Palazzo Ducale, one of the most gorgeous Renaissance residence. The palazzo was built between 1444 and 1482 for the Duke Federico da Montefeltro by the architect Luciano Laurana and finished by Franceso di Giorgio Martini. It holds the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche where we can find precious masterpieces of Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca with the "Flagellazione", and Raphael with the renown "Muta".
The Casa di Raffaello is another destination worth of visit in this student town, where the Middle Ages merge with the Renaissance.

Loreto, on the other hand, is visited by religious tourists, and is built around the Santuario della Santa Casa, built from 1468 by famous architects like Giuliano da Sangallo, Bramante and Sansovino. Inside the Basilica it is possible to find the frescoes of Melozzo da Forl' of the 1477, while the Pinacoteca holds a collection of paintings by Lorenzo Lotto, who lived in the Santa Casa from 1535 until his death in 1556.

Ascoli Piceno has a strong medieval heritage which can be seen in the Palazzo Capitali del Popolo, the Duomo of the XII Century and the gothic church of S. Francesco or the one of S. Pietro Martire.
In the sea town of Pesaro the Musei Civici have to be visited, where works of Giovanni Bellini like the "Incoronazione della Vergine" are collected.

A naturalistic masterpiece of the region are the Grotte di Frasassi, with a network of over 18km of caves and a surface of 1000m open to the visitors. The biggest cave, the Grotta del Vento, is wide enough to keep the Duomo di Milano in it, since it is over 240m high.

The regional cuisine is renown for the truffles, the tasty mountain cheese, the ham and the salami. A typical dish are the Olive Ascolane, with a filling of meat and herbs, and the "brodetto", a fish soup whose preparation varies from zone to zone.
The most renown wine is the Verdicchio, but other qualities are gaining popularity as well.

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