A Hidden Gem of Italy

by Murielle Blanchard

If you like Europe I am sure you have traveled to Italy and most likely more than once. You know all the major regions and cities but do you know Le Marche? It is a region located south of Emilia Romania and north of Abruzzo and it is indeed a hidden gem. Most people, including Italians, have never heard of Le Marche. I just returned from a week there and I am still wondering why it took me so long to discover this unique region of Italy. The main focus of my trip was to visit the “Borghi”.

A “borgo” is a fortified small town built by a noble family around a castle, a church or a fortress between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. There are a total of 273 registered borghi within Italy and 23 of them are located in Le Marche. A very strict list of 70 criteria allows a borgo to be registered with the institute “I Borghi piu belli d’Italia”. Each borgo is unique. It is a symbol of Italian culture with artistic and architectural heritage, tradition and enogastronomic treasures.

The countryside is a beautiful painting of rolling vineyards, golden grain fields, olive groves and perched ancient borghi. It is a place where you can still feel a genuine sense of discovery and enjoy quiet pleasures as you meander the back roads and walk on cobble stones that haven’t yet been polished by the soles of a million tourists. Traditions are very strong and the opportunities for unique experiences are endless.

I learned about olive oil and how to choose a good one. I tasted different types of Pecorino cheese. Each one aged with a different technique. In the beautiful medieval village of Offida I discovered the art of the traditional handmade bobbin lace called “tombolo”. Fortunately today there are still women who make this beautiful art, and you can visit them and buy pieces of lace. It is a dying art form as it is so labor intensive, but once you see and feel real handmade lace, you'll have a deep appreciation for the craft. In Treia I was introduced to the ancient sport called ‘Gioco del pallone col bracciale” (ball game with the bracelet). It is an ancient sport practiced mainly by the nobility.

Le Marche is also the land of theatres. There are over 100 theatres and 70 up and running. The buildings range from massive open air arenas such as the Macerata Sferisterio to tiny theatres found in just about every borgo. I find it quite remarkable for a region with a population of just one million and a half!

Exploring Le Marche means a new surprise every day. If you like smaller towns, slow rhythm of rural life and pleasure in the “olden’ days, Le Marche is for you. It is a small region with character and beauty.

Do not wait, be the first one in your family, neighborhood or town to travel to Le Marche.

Traili felici!

I'd love to help you plan your Italian or European vacations, please give me a call at 801.483.6533 or you can email me here.

Murielle Blanchard
Black Pearl Luxury Services
A division of Morris Murdock Travel