The central Italy region of le Marche sees fewer tourists than neighborhing Umbria and Tuscany but it has many attractive hidden gems, especially if you go away from the coast. The rolling hills of the interior are dotted with vineyards and medieval towns and castles, some that have been restored and can be visited.
Urbino, a picturesque Renaissance hill town, is the most visited of le Marche’s attractions but few tourists continue on to Urbania, a lively and interesting medieval town that was once the summer residence of the Duke of Urbino. This part of le Marche, the Metauro Valley, is famous for its fall truffles so it makes a good fall foodie destination.
In the central part of the region, the area around Sassoferrato has a lot to see including Roman ruins, medieval monasteries, the Museum of Roman Gilded Bronzes housing four rare life-size bronze statues, and the famous Frassasi Caves, Italy’s top caverns. A unique place to eat in this area is the Farrotecca, a restaurant specializing in farro dishes produced on thier farm.
Ascoli Piceno is a town in the south surrounded by rivers with a good historic center. La Quintana, a medieval jousting festival and parade, is held there in August.
Jesi is the center of the Verdicchio wine region, one of Italy’s top white wines. A good way to visit wineries and artisan food producers and explore the region is on a tour with Marco’s Way, run by an English-speaking native of the region.