The most distinguishing features of the Marche region are its picturesque landscape and rolling hills.
The mountains of the Appennino centrale are a prominent destination for hikers and skiers – 29 of its peaks reach heights of over 2,000 meters (6,500 feet). These mountains border other regions in central Italy, such as Emilia Romagna, Toscana, Umbria, Lazio, and Abruzzo. The area is dotted here and there with small, charming villages where houses cling to the hillsides, bundled closely together.
Beneath the mountains’ peaks, a series of gentle hills expand down to the fine, golden sands of the Mare Adriatico. These hills are more densely populated and abound with historic places. One of these hills ends at the Promontorio del Conero (second in height to Gargano), southeast of Ancona, where its seaside cliffs perch over the waters below. It is an area that attracts all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts with its expansive views and a wide array of outdoor activities, ranging from free climbing to a simple stroll along the alpine trails.
The Marche region is certainly not the one of the most well-known regions in Italy, but its rich variety of landscapes allow for all types of vacations. There are opportunities for those who want something dynamic and adventurous, as well as something for those who prefer a more relaxing experience with their families. In addition, its cultural sites and regional cuisine will make any vacation here an unforgettable experience.
Waterfalls and Canyons
In the northern part of the region is Monte Nerone, which is part of the Umbrian-Marche Apennine mountain chain. The area around this mountain is known for its waterfalls, caves, and an abundance of fossils of different animal species. Gola del Furlo, home of the golden eagle, is an enchanting canyon located between the Pietralata and Pagnuccio mountains. This canyon is criss-crossed by several hiking trails, and the clear, emerald waters of the Candigliano river that flow between its high, rock walls. In his twenty-first canto of Paradise, Dante Alighieri writes of Monte Catria, which borders the Umbria region. It is a jewel of nature, with its woodlands, rare shrubs, and caverns. It now boasts a ski resort that accommodates visitors of all ages.
Hermitages and Abbeys
Dante wrote of an impressive structure which stands at the base of this mountain – the Eremo di Fonte Avellana. It was founded in the tenth century by a small community or hermits, which included at least 76 people deemed as saints or blessed, as well as 54 bishops. It stands near other famous Benedictine monasteries in Umbria that are branches of it. One of these is Santa Maria di Sitria, which was founded in the ninth century in an area of natural beauty which is now the Parco Naturale di Monte Cucco. Another is the Abbazia di Sant’Emiliano in Congiuntoli, which was founded in the tenth century along the border of the Dukedom of Spoleto.
The mountains of the central Marche region are replete with canyons and ravines which vary greatly in size and depth. One must cross these in order to reach the most well-known summits. One series of such ravines is known as the Gole dell’Infernaccio, carved out by the Tenna river between Monte Priora and Monte Sibilla. It’s a favorite destination for hikers and tourists. Through the green forests of beech trees one can hear the constant symphony of the rivers, waterfalls, and streams, and view the awe-inspiring Lame Rosse, also known as the La Cappadocia delle Marche because of its rocky peaks. It can be found in the San Lorenzo al Lago area, in the Comune di Fiastra.
However, it’s in the municipality of Genga where one will find the pièce de résistance, guarded on all sides by these mountains. It’s called the Grotte di Frasassi, and was discovered in 1971 by the Gruppo Speleologico Marchigiano CAI di Ancona. This is a vast network of karst caves whose first large room is easily accessible by the public. It is full of enormous bands of calcareous stratification which were formed over 190 million years ago and which are home to an unusual underground ecosystem with 67 different types of living creatures.
The Lago di Gerosa (Comunanza) rests at the base of Monte Vettore and is fed by the Aso River. Its shores provide a venue for walking and mountain bike riding. Almost all of the lakes in the Marche region are man-made, yet they still provide striking views (Lago di Fiastra, Lago di San Ruffino, Amandola, Lago di Cingoli). On the other hand, Lago di Pilato (Montemonaco) is a glacial lake. It’s home to a quite unusual animal: the Chirocefalo del Marchesoni. This is a small crustacean from the last glacial period. On the slopes of these mountains, nestled in the rocks, one can also find cities known for their artistic treasures. These include Camerino and Arcevia, famous for a type of impregnable stone.
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