Marche Things to Do Tips by Trekki Top 5 Page for this destination
Marche Things to Do: 46 reviews and 172 photos
The lake between Marche villages of Cingoli and Apiro is an artificial one. With its shape - several arms rather than being roundish - it is a real nice place to relax and do some hiking or water sports. The lake is called Lago Cingoli on several maps but also Lago di Castreccioni. Castreccioni is the name of the little hamlet directly after the first bridge. Near this bridge is a boat rental (although I didn’t find a website, but that is rather normal for the small businesses in more remote parts of Italy). On the eastern shore is a nice hiking path around Monte Nero which takes approx. 4-5 hours. The lake and surroundings are also ideal for mountainbikers. Also here no maps from regional services are available, but I found some other trails on Everytrail, mountainbike trips:
MTB, 46 km
MTB, 45 km
MTB, 57 km.
Nearby is also an adventure park, Cingoli Avventura, with exciting trails, as can be seen in the short video.
I stayed here briefly overnight, on my way back from Marche village San Ginesio and Abbazia Fiastra. It wasn’t enough to see more of the lake but the atmosphere in the nice agriturismo I found was very much charming. Their food was also excellent, so I have lots of reasons to come back.
Fur further information, have a look at the map of Lago Cingoli and at the photogallery of the website.
Location of Lago Cingoli on Google Maps.
nearest airport: Ancona (AOI, 50 km to the northeast) or Pescara (PSR, 150 km to the southeast).
© Ingrid D., February 2012.
South of Macerata town lays the enchanting natural reserve Abbadia di Fiastra. But it is more than just a natural reserve: it might be better described as a preservation of time and history. The land was given to Cistercian monks in 1142. They settled here, built church and monastery and worked on the huge farmland property. Abbadia di Fiastra was an important centre for approx. 300 years before it was partly destroyed. In 18th century, noble Bandini family took over the ground and buildings and, following the last wills of the last heir, it was transformed into a foundation, Fondazione Guistiniani-Bandini. The foundation holds seminars about agriculture on a regular base and has laid out educative paths in context to traditional ecological farming. A museum about rural tradition and farming adds to the whole idea what I tried to describe as “preserving time and history” above. Today, Cistercian monks live here again.
The church is open to the public and it is a very serene place. I liked the little vestibule with the beautiful arched windows (which I have as main photo in my album about newest pages). I also highly recommend to visit the monastery. While the church is free of charge, visit of museum and monastery costs a fee of 4 Euro (as of May 2011). Here you can see the former refectory, a huge underground cellar which served as refrigerator (and yes, it is cold down there, so bring a sweater), the enchanting cloister, the former olive oil cellar with an interesting collection of archaeological findings from nearby ancient Roman settlement Urbs Salvia (Urbisaglia today). What I found most fascinating was the Ionic capital on the northern wall of the cloister (photo 5): yet another sign of the “archaeological recycling”, as I call it now, where builders used stones from buildings of other cultures. The pillars inside the refectory (photo 3) also have older capitals; all are from Roman Urbs Salvia.
Abbadia di Fiastra is a very popular retreat for the locals throughout the whole year. When I was there on a Wednesday at lunch time end of May 2011, several school classes were sitting on benches having lunch. On the huge piazza in front of church and monastery are restaurant and bar where pastries, snacks and delicious gelato are being served. Tables and chairs outside make it a nice stop for lunch during warm days. Nearby is also monastery shop where one can buy produces from the farmland, wine, oil and honey. The whole ground and buildings are wheelchair accessible.
Opening hours of the monastery:
June 15 – September 15: daily from 10:00 – 13:00 and 15:00 – 19:00,
September 16 – June 14: Saturday, Sunday and holidays: from 10:00 – 13:00 and 15:00 – 18:00.
How to get there:
By car: the monastery is located south of Macerata, so leave the road SS77 at exit Macerata Ovest and follow the signs. Parking is provided, free of charge.
Location of Abbadia di Fiastra on Google Maps.
nearest airport: Ancona (code AOI, 80 km to the northwest) or Pescara (PSR, 90 km to the southeast).
© Ingrid D., January 2012, minor updates July 2012 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
San Leo, Pieve Santa Maria Assunta
Some time ago, San Leo’s citizens have voted to belong to Emilia Romagna, so it is no longer located in Marche (and funnily enough our VT database lists it as in Umbria, where it was never located). But it is well worth a visit.
San Leo is one of the many charming hilltop towns, located close to San Marino Republic and also to the seaside towns of Rimini, Riccione, Cesenatico etc.
Already when you approach San Leo from the east, the huge rock with the roundish castle catches the eye. But it gets better as soon as you drive or walk up the only entrance street to the village. The village is very narrow and consists of more or less only one road. Old houses line the roads in the very centre and also two churches, the parish church and the cathedral can be visited, both dating back more than 1000 years. The village is easily walkable, count for approx. one hour (without lunch or dinner). The castle – Rocca di San Leo – is perched high on the rock. Remember to plan more time in case you want to visit the castle. It has a very interesting museum inside, covering the life and death of Alessandro Cagliostro, who was held prisoner here after having been imprisoned here following inquisition.
In case you come by car, there is free parking available inside the village. Just follow the signs (or look at my link below).
San Leo is proud member of Bandiera Arancione, and Italian award given by Italian Tourism Board for excellence in tourism, gastronomy, hospitality and environment.
Look at the videos given on San Leo website.
In case you are interested in festivals, called sagre in Italian, two interesting ones are being held in San Leo:
San Leo Festival in July (the 2012 date is not yet fixed),
Alchemy festival, honouring Cagliostro, most probably in August (also here 2012 dates not yet fixed).
Location of San Leo (parking lot) on Google Maps.
Province: Rimini (of Emilia Romagna);
nearest airport: Rimini (code RMI, 40 km to the northeast), Ancona (code AOI, 120 km to the southeast) or Bologna (code BLQ, 145 km to the northwest)
© Ingrid D., June 2008, updates July 2012 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
Directions: San Leo is approx 30 km southeast of San Marino Republic.
Luciano explores Grotte di Frasassi
When I was planning my first trip to central Italy in 2008, I came across a book that mentioned Grotte di Frasassi being the biggest limestone cave complex in Italy and most probably of Europe. It was only discovered “recently”, 1975, and is still being explored by speleologists. Only 13 km of it is explored by now, but the specialists believe that the cave stretches out almost 35 km!! The caves can be visited only with guided tours. Depending on physical fitness and interest three different tours are offered: the easy 75 minutes and 1,5 km long tourist route%L*, the 2,5 hours “blue” advanced route* and the 4 hours “red” adventurous route where full speleologic equipment is provided (helmet, lamps and rope). I desperately wanted to book the blue tour but it was not possible, because both blue and red tours are only offered when there are enough bookings. So if you are interested in one of these extended ones, email them to find out when they will be scheduled and plan your trip around this date.
But on the other hand, already the tourist route gives a fantastic insight into the caves. The tour starts in the huge Grotta Grande del Vento, which is said to be so big (180 x 120 m and 200 m high), that the cathedrals of Milano or Cologne can easily fit in there. To walk around in this cave is a bit of illusion and perception – the distances and measures are much bigger than one thinks. When our guide told us how big special stalagmites or stalactites are in reality, we were amazed. We thought they would be much smaller. From the huge cave, a path leads through the other, next parts. All of them have names and it is easily understandable where these came from. There is a fairy tale castle with a witch, there are Niagara Falls, the Ancona abyss, the polar station with a polar bear at the entrance, the labyrinth (yes, it is easy to get lost), there are lakes and deep holes and all kinds of other stalactites and stalagmites which still can inspire our imagination.
The visits to the caves are very efficiently organised. From the huge car park 2 km to the east, busses leave every 30 minutes before the next tour starts. This means that no group can get mixed up with the preceeding or following groups and that waiting lines are reduced to a minimum.
Opening hours: (as of Feb 2012)
March – October: tours are at 10, 11, 12 a.m. and at 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 p.m.,
For other months, check => website, because it can change.
Entrance fees: (as of Feb 2012)
15,50 € (tourist tour, adult), 13,50 € reduced (people of > 65, students, speleologists), 12 € (kids from 6-14 years). The blue tour costs 35 € and the red tour 45 €.
German, English and French tours are available in the months of June to September, at 9:45, 11:15, 12:45, 2:45, 4:15 and 5:45.
The website is excellent! It is easy to spend hours reading, look at the photos and watch the videos. Even if you don’t have the time, make sure you watch at least the videos, which are given on individual tabs of each of the tour parts (turistico, blue and red).
From Fabriano, drive along SS76 to the north and exit at Genga Stazione. From there, drive west until you arrive at the huge parking lot.
Thanks to a chat with VTer Olga, who will visit the caves this year, I have learned that the caves are also easily accessible by public transport: take the train from Ancona to (map =>) Genga Stazione. The car park is on the other side of the train station.
Location of the parking lot for Grotte di Frasassi, where the busses leave from, on Google Maps.
nearest airport: Ancona (Falconara, code AOI, 45 min by car) or Roma (FCO or CIA, 2,5 hours by car).
© Ingrid D., June 2008, updates July 2012 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
Address: On SS15, between SS76 and Genga
Phone: +39 -0732 - 90090
Fabriano, Museo della Carta e della Filigrana
.. e della filigrana, which is the full name of this museum.
When it comes to pilgrimages, Christians go to the Vatican, Muslims go to Mecca, Buddhists would go to Tibet if it would still exist (and not be massacred by Dragonland) and I go to the cradles of “industrialisation” or origins of ancient handicrafts. I was thrilled to learn that Fabriano was a very important centre of paper making in the old days and is the cradle of the watermark, which was invented here in 1287. Consequently you will find a museum which is dedicated entirely to paper and watermark making. This museum was definitely one of the highlights of my central Italy trip in April 2008 and I came back in May 2012, to show it to Sarah.
The museum is located in the cloister of the adjacent Chiesa del Sacro Cuore in the south of town and seems to be very busy all year long. I was here twice in 2008. Both times several school classes were there to learn about paper making. The employees of the museum are very much dedicated to their exhibits and the history of this magnificent artwork. They speak many languages so you can get tours in English, German, French and Spanish as well.
The museum has all the old traditional equipment including a hydraulic multiple hammer mill, where the cotton fabric is ruptured into the raw material for the paper paste. It is fascinating to watch when they start to operate this mill – 3x3 wooden hammers hit the fabric in slightly different strokes to tear it into pieces and then later into the raw cotton fibres (photographing inside is not allowed, but photo 2 is a similar mill, with only one hammer). The paper paste is then constantly filled into and stirred in huge basins. Each visitor group gets a demonstration of how the paper is dipped onto the old screens – a masterful skill this is! The workers dip two sheets, which are then put on felt and when enough paper sheets have been made, the stack is being pre-dried in a press. For further drying they are hanged on specific drying equipment. You might imagine that there is a huge daily output of handmade paper, and this all goes into the museum workshops where several very much skilful artists make the most magnificent things, which can be purchased in the museum’s shop.
But the museum is not only about paper making but also about the invention and development of watermarks. On the upper floor they have a huge exhibition of all kinds of watermarks which were designed and made here, mostly for rulers of the different countries in Europe and overseas and also some of the first banknotes that were made with watermarks as a security feature. Another exhibition describes the steps in development of watermarks, how the picture is engraved into a thick wax plate, how the positive and negative moulds were made and how they have been used to create three-dimensional watermarks.
In the basement’s courtyard are exhibits of other machines and equipment and a very extensive description of paper history and of course Fabriano’s history in this context, featuring Cartiere Miliani’s paper empire.
I can highly recommend visiting this museum and if you have similar interests like me, it is easy to spend one full day there. The employees will answer every question you might have and the shop is divine!!
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m to 18:30 (and 19:30 in summer)
Entrance fees (as of January 2012): 5,70 € (adults), 4,60 € (student groups), children under 6 are free.
Guided tours: at 10:00, 11:00, 11:45, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00 (plus 18:00 in summer)
Summer = end of May until end of October.
What must be fascinating as well, but only available with prior notice, are workshops on traditional paper making. These are held over 3-5 days (daily 2,5 hours) and cost only 16,50 € per day (price as of 2008, but I will find out actual prices soon).
Location of Museo Della Carta E Della Filigrana on Google Maps.
nearest airport: Ancona (Falconara, code AOI, 45 min by car) or Roma (FCO or CIA, 2 hours by car).
© Ingrid D., June 2008 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts), updates January 2012.
Address: Largo Fratelli Spacca, 2 I-60044 Fabriano (AN)
Other Contact: email@example.com
Phone: +39 - 0732 -709297
Urbino is one of Marche’s famous towns. It is listed in UNESCO’s heritage because of the important role the town played during Italian Renaissance time. This was mostly credit of the famous duke (duca in Italian) Federico da Montefeltro II who lived in 15th century, who has had Palazzo Ducale built and who made Urbino an important centre of humanity and art during his time as a regent. I haven’t been inside of the palazzo yet because my short trip to town was together with the guys and girls of Gubbio’s Società dei Balestrieri for the evening parade of Festa del Duca. Before this we only had 30 minutes time for sightseeing, so not enough to explore anything closer. But the buildings around the palazzo and the cathedral are very much impressing. Inside the palazzo is Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, one of the most important collection of paintings of Italian Renaissance with artwork of Raffaele (who was born in Urbino), Piero della Francesca, Tiziano and many more. Inside of the palazzo is also one of the two Studioli (one = Studiolo) he had built. The other one was built in Palazzo Ducale in Gubbio, but during 19th century it was stolen and ended up in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. So Urbino is definitely worth a visit and I hope that I will come back very soon for a day trip.
Certainly of interest is Festa del Duca on the third weekend of August, from Fridays to Sundays to be precise. It is held to honour Federico da Montefeltro and the whole town looks even more medieval then with the countless stalls showing ancient handicraft skills such as candle dipping, basket making, woodwork, weaponry, herbs and food and music of course. Several music and literature workshops are given in the other palazzo (other than Palazzo Ducale I mean). The festa culminates in the corteo storico (historical procession) on Sunday evening. It starts at 9 p.m. when the groups gather at the piazza in front of Palazzo Ducale, accompanied by drums and cannon shooting (with gunpowder but equally loud). Then the groups walk up to the fortezza where each group is being presented to the performers of Federico da Montefeltro, his wife Battista Sforza and their entourage. This all is very much atmospheric, since the town is lit by torch lights and candles.
[our parade in the evening at Fortezza Albornoz.]
Location of Urbino on Google Maps.
Province: Pesaro e Urbino (PU)
© Ingrid D., March 2012 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
Genga is a charming little town on a hilltop northwest of Frasassi Caves. It is listed in the Bandiere Arancione, a reward for tourism, hospitality and environment. Pope Leo XII was born here and this means that two rooms in the museum which is located next to chiesa San Clemente are dedicated to his life and papacy. I have read that nearby there is also a museum dedicated to former school life (Museo della Scuola Antica dell’800) with old school books, an old classroom and other school objects. Unfortunately I have been up on the hill during lunchtime. So church and museum was closed and I was not yet hungry. But the atmosphere was very much relaxed and I surely will return, but this time in the morning or afternoon so that I will have time for the museums.
For those who seek a relaxing time and don’t like to stay in cities or towns, this little village is an ideal base to explore the region around Frasassi Caves, with the caves, the marvellous Gola della Rossa with the Eremo Santa Maria Infra Saxa high above Gola della Rossa and the old church San Vittore alle Chiuse (which is visible on the way from parking lot to Frasassi Caves).
Location of Genga on Google Maps.
Province: Ancona (AN)
© Ingrid D., April 2012 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
Sassoferrato is a little hill town in western Marche near its border to Umbria.
And nearby is an interesting church, which is said to once have been maybe one of the most important Templar churches in Europe.
This church was a real find but I only realised its importance when I was back home and did try to find out more about it. With its location in a little forest east of Sassoferrato it looked so nice that I wanted to have a closer view. Unfortunately it was closed when I arrived, but I should have known since it was around midday. The entrance portal, set back at the end of a small “tunnel”, fascinated me from the moment I saw it and still fascinates me whenever I look at the photos. The birds look so archaic, so old, quite a contrast to the more simple style of the bell tower and the rest of the church’s walls. I walked around the church, almost, and saw that there is obviously renovation under way. But no other vehicle was in sight so I couldn’t ask anyone about the story of this church.
Only later, back home, when I looked it up I saw that I had missed a gem! The origins of it date back to approx. 300 B.C., when it was a temple dedicated to Mithras in the ancient settlement of Sentium. Sentium was either here or located nearby (the sources I found are not consistent in that context). In any way, the first church builders have used material from Sentium (the ”architectural recycling” I find so amazing anywhere in Italy). One source mentions that the origins of the church (not temple) are Lombard (Langobard). Whatever the origins are, the capitals are marvellous: a sparrow hawk to the right and an eagle to the left, the latter which sits on a human hand. And the lions also look interesting, very much different to lions in reliefs I saw before. When I looked at the many photos of the interior on Mysterious locations in Marche I realised what I had missed: interesting architecture and details and indeed details typical to Knights Templar churches. Maybe the crosses on the fresco of the entrance portal are also Templar ones?
Again, this church must be fascinating to visit. On one of the websites I read that it is open on Saturdays and Sundays, from 15:00 – 19:00. But that it is expected to call in advance (Italian mobile phone +39 – 333 421 1899). I will definitely come back next time when I am in Gubbio. It is only 35 km away.
South of Sassoferrato’s old town, on road SR360, is a brown sign leading to the church. The exit is near a supermarket with big parking lot in front. Just follow the signs and then turn right at the big weathered stone cross (photo 5).
Location of Santa Croce on Google Maps.
Province: Ancona (AN)
© Ingrid D., February 2012 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
Ospedale dei Pellegrini, San Ginesio
San Ginesio is a little village in western Marche, north of Monte Sibillini National Park. It is small, only 4000 inhabitants, but has a beautiful atmosphere and several interesting buildings and museums. I visited this little town during my short roundtrip in May 2011, only over lunchtime. That is why I haven’t been inside the museums and churches (except one church), but saw enough to come back again.
The town is surrounded by an almost intact wall and has several entrance gates left. Directly behind Port Picena is Ospedale dei Pellegrini, a pilgrims’ hostel, built in 1295. It was the place where pilgrims could stay during their pilgrimage from Loreto to Roma. A road leads uphill to the town centre where an interesting monument pays homage to Alberico Gentili, a famous lawyer who was Regius Professor for Civil Law in Oxford and is considered as founder of humanity aspects in prisoner treatment and international law. At the same piazza is also a church which does have a more northern Europe exterior: La Colegiata. But I have read that the façade is work of a German expatriate, Enrico Alemanno, which explains the style.
In August, San Ginesio celebrates its Palio: Festa di San Ginesio.
San Ginesio’s tourist office has a lot of valuable information about the town and the region, especially Monti Sibillini National Park. In addition, I also found nice brochures about I Borghi più belli (The most beautiful towns) and Bandiere Arancioni (award for the villages known for hospitality, environment and gastronomy), both have the town listed.
To get an overview of San Ginesio, here are two nice videos:
San Ginesio (1,4 minutes) and San Ginesio, by Piccola Grande Italia (9,33 minutes).
Location of San Ginesio on Google Maps.
Province: Macerata (MC)
© Ingrid D., March 2012 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
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