Marche: land of sea and hills, of traditions and great food.
It’s a region in central Italy, wet by the Adriatic Sea, and even if it’s not as well known abroad, it could easily rival Tuscany for its natural beauty.
In October I was very lucky to be chosen to participate in a blog tour organized by the Marche Tourism Board: more than 20 bloggers from all over the world were divided in little groups which would visit a particular area of the region, in my case the area of Fermo and Macerata.
The blog tour’s goal was to show us the beauty of the beaches that were recently awarded the blue flag but, since there’s so much more than the beaches in the region, this is my list of the 5 top reasons why Marche, and this area in particular, are way underrated.
1- It’s Shoes Paradise
I caught your attention, didn’t I?
The shoe making district of Fermo and Macerata is famous in Italy and in the world for representing the largest concentration of footwear producing companies in Italy.
We visited the Loriblu Outlet, where we were surrounded by the largest amount of jewel sandals I’ve ever seen. These are not cheap shoes, but the outlet prices make them a lot more affordable, so if you’re looking to splurge a little for a special occasion, make sure to visit the many outlets of the area.
But a visit to the shoe making district would not be complete without seeing how shoes are made, the old way I mean.
In Porto Sant’ Elpidio we met Armando Di Rocco, shoemaker for a job and for a passion.
His clients include George Clooney, and it’s not hard to understand why: his hands stitch the shoes with such an ease and accuracy!
He also won a Guinness World Record for making the world’s biggest shoe… Anyone with big feet?
2- The food is simply awesome – enough said.
We ate. And then we ate again, and when we were stuffed we nonetheless ate again. Cause when the food is so good, you really can’t say no, right?
Marche is a coastal region, so obviously the protagonist on the table was deliciously fresh fish, but in reality you don’t need to be a fish lover to enjoy the food. The choice is broad and includes cheese and cold cuts, pasta, meat and regional specialties, all accompanied by a good bottle of wine.
You can read more about Marche food: What to eat in Italy: a Marche food guide
Markets are a great, and not very expensive, place to buy the local specialties, without being tourist traps, since you will be most likely the only foreign people there! Locals use to go daily, or weekly, to the market because food is fresh and produced locally. You can ask the stall sellers to let you try the products before you buy them, most likey they will.
We had an impromptu aperitivo (happy hour) at Porto Sant’ Elpidio market: among the other things we tried the “olive all’ascolana” , a specialty from the area consisting in fried, meat stuffed olives, so good that they melt in your mouth…mmmmmm!
3- Traditions are still alive and something the locals are truly proud of
We visited the port in Civitanova Marche and we were very lucky: the boats had just come back after the daily catch, and we were warmly welcomed (like everywere else by the way – the locals are very welcoming), despite not having an appointment or anything like that.
Fishers are so proud of their job that they eagerly let us board their boat and showed us all the fishing equipment and techniques.
“Next time – said one of the fishers – you’re coming with us to fish so you will see how we do it in first person!”
” Sure! – I replied – What time do you leave?”
” About 3 or 4 in the morning”
“Mmm… I’ll think about it!”
4- Marche won the third prize in Italy for the quality of the beaches
In the area of Macerata and Fermo the six beaches of Lido di Fermo, Pedaso, Porto San Giorgio, Porto Sant’ Elpidio, Civitanova Marche and Potenza Picena (17 in the whole region) were awarded the Blue Flag, which is a voluntary ecolabel. Beaches are awarded this label when complying with 33 criteria covering environmental management, water quality, environmental education and information and safety and services.
5- The region is permeated by history
There’s really no way to escape history anywhere in Italy, so it wasn’t a great surprise to learn that the town of Fermo could boast some Roman ruins.
What was impressive though, was that the cisterns that we visited are the best preserved Roman cisterns in all of Italy.
Built around 40 AD, the cisterns provided water to the towns of Fermo and Porto San Giorgio, and were formed by 30 underground tanks. These collected rain water and were connected to a pipe network; the water was well oxygenated so that it could be drinkable… those guys were way ahead! Later in the Middle Age the Dominical monks used these rooms as wine cellars
For informations on opening hours consult the official website of the city of Fermo.
Have you been to Marche? What would you visit the region for?
A special thanks to the Social Media Team Marche who organized the #iLikeMarche blogtour and especially to Federica, who was a great host throughout the trip. The Social Media Team Marche recently launched their new blog (in italian), make sure to check it out!