Italy, with its range of landscapes, is a distillation of the world; the Marche is a distillation of Italy.
Guido Piovene – Viaggio in Italia (1957)
Le Marche is a land peppered with medieval mountain villages and framed by the dramatic Sibillini Mountain range. The area has historically drawn artists and spiritual seekers to gain inspiration and insight from its wild natural beauty. From the great art of Raphael and Lotto to a contemporary Zen Buddhist centre, the air of inquiry, contemplation and creative expression is palpable. Le Marche is rich in mystical legends; Clairvoyant Sibyl (after whom the mountains are named) delivered prophecies from a cave in pre-Roman times whilst the ancient churches scattered across the mountaintops are said to represent the arrangement of the stars in the constellation Venus. For centuries pilgrims on their way to nearby Assisi (home of St Francis) have crossed the Marche mountains bringing a steady stream of soul searchers to the region, many of whom chose never to leave.
The art and architecture of Le Marche is unmistakably medieval and yet is surprisingly Le Marche’s city of Urbino is where that the Renaissance first began. The excesses of the Renaissance seems for the most part to have passed the area by. Many of Le Marche’s great architecture and art was anonymously made which sits in stark contrast to neighbouring Tuscany. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, one that is guided by nature and contemplation. However, the locals are not a puritanical bunch and during the summer there are an endless stream of lively festivals devoted to fine food, music, and crafts from medieval archery to chestnuts. It seems in Le Marche every aspect of life is appreciated and celebrated.