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Le Marche: The Gem of the Adriatic
time 9 Days / 7 Nights

Urbino (4 nights), Ascoli Piceno (3), Rome (1)

Experience an off the beaten path tour of one of Italy’s most underrated regions, Le Marche! You will be based in both Urbino and Ascoli Piceno. This region has been described as “all of Italy in one region”. On this 7 night adventure you will be delighted by the Apennine Mountains, rolling hills, beautiful beaches and rocky cliffs. At the same time being marveled by the Renaissance culture and medieval architecture of this region. This is an exclusive private tour including winery visits, local tastings and cooking experiences as well as most meals. 
 

inclusionAt a Glance
  • Depart US to Bologna, Italy
  • Arrival in Bologna, Transfer to Urbino
  • Urbino, the Ideal Renaissance Court
  • Gradara and the Furlo Pass
  • Free Day Or Optional Tours
  • Conero Riviera and Recanati to Ascoli Piceno
  • A special winery visit and Ascoli Piceno
  • Macerata and Urbisaglia
  • Transfer to Rome
dates Itinerary
Click on the plus sign for full day description.

Board your overnight flight and you're off to your exciting vacation in Le Marche region! 

*Flights are not included in the price of this package.  We are happy to arrange them for you.

Arrive at Bologna airport and transfer to the hotel in Urbino.

Urbino is one of the most important Renaissance cities in Italy, the birthplace of Raphael, the Divine painter, and a vibrant university town.

Free time to enjoy the hotel and/or take a stroll through town to admire the magic combination of medieval and renaissance areas of this wonderful Italian gem.
 

Breakfast at hotel.

Today you will visit Urbino, Raphael’s Renaissance ‘hood”, under the guidance of your private art expert.  The patriarch of the Montefeltro family, Duca Federico da Montefeltro, created the best art scene of the 15th century here, gathering the greatest artists, architects and scholars of his day. The Duke’s brilliant studiolo (contemplation cabinet) in the Ducal Palace is entirely paneled in what must be the world’s most intricate marquetry work. The town’s splendor was made official by Unesco, which deemed the entire city center a World Heritage Site in 1998.

You will enjoy a light lunch downtown with a local named Monia who will offer you delicious local and seasonal products of Urbino and Montefeltro.

Afternoon and evening at leisure.
 

Breakfast at hotel.

This morning your driver will take you to Gradara, a fascinating Medieval village of rare and intact beauty. The Rocca (fortress) and its fortified borgo represent one of the best-preserved Medieval structures in Italy. The Castle is set on a hill at 466 ft above sea level, and the old tower reaches up to 98 ft, dominating the entire valley. This castle is also very well known for the tragic love story of Paolo Malatesta and Francesca Da Polenta, mentioned in the Dante’s Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy). You will have a guided tour of the Castle and time to walk among the narrow streets of the village overlooking the sweet hills around the Adriatic coast. 

You will then go to Gola del Furlo (The Furlo Pass), a Natural Gorge where you will be enchanted by extraordinary scenery including the emerald green color of the Candigliano River, the rich green meadows, an ancient Roman tunnel and rocky cliffs.
  
Enjoy a lunch with local truffle tasting at Acqualagna.

Evening at leisure.

 

Enjoy the free day to explore Urbino as you wish!  Or, feel free to add any of the following suggested Optional Day Tours to your itinerary:
 
1. Monte Catria by cable car - Fonte Avellana Hermitage - Pergola Museum of the Gilded Bronzes
Experience an amazing adventure at the top of Monte Catria. Take a cable car to the top of the mountain with your private environmental guide and enjoy an easy hike around for about 90 minutes. Then, savor lunch at a mountain chalet. Down again by cable car to reach Fonte Avellana and its peaceful monastery. Guided visit of the Scriptorium, the Cripta, the Cloister, and the Basilica Minore. You may end the day with a visit to the Pergola Museum of the Gilded Bronzes and admire the only surviving life-size group of gilded bronzes from ancient Rome. There are two female figures, cloaked and veiled, and two horsemen, wearing military outfits on decorated horses. The statues are thought most likely to date between 50 and 30 BC and depict members of a prestigious local family.

 
2. Monte Nerone hike - Gourmet lunch at a private house in Piobbico - Brancaleoni Castle
Enjoy a leisurely easy hike with your private environmental guide to Monte Nerone and Pecoraro Castle (about 2 hours) and discover its unspoiled nature and a stunning landscape at the border of the Marche and Umbria regions.
Then, go back to downtown Piobbico and meet Chef Roberto at a private house, where he will prepare a delicious lunch including black or white truffles (depending on the season) and local specialties. After lunch, visit Brancaleoni Castle, an imposing fortress with its Renaissance architectural structure. 

3. Winery Visit - Terracotta Traditions - Cooking class
Discover two wineries, an historical one and a modern one situated in the northern part of Marche region. The historical winery in Barchi has been producing wine for 3 generations. You will visit 3 different cellars, the oldest one, the modern one and the third cellar where they produce the “passito” wine. Then head to Fratterosa, the modern winery, where Luca and Maria Vittoria have been producing top quality wine since 2008.  Visit the cellar, walk in the vineyards and enjoy a tasting with beautiful views. Transfer to downtown Fratterosa to meet local terracotta artisans and their “botteghe” (shops). You will end the afternoon with an amazing hands-on cooking lesson with Sofia: featuring pasta and Presidio Slow Food “Fava” and  take part in an interesting and simple workshop about local food tradition. Enjoy dinner at a gourmet restaurant in Fratterosa.

 

Breakfast at hotel.

Today you leave the northern part of Marche region and travel to the southern side. On the way you will visit the Conero Regional Natural Park, a setting of rare beauty and home to Monte Conero. Mount Conero is the only coastal high point on the Adriatic sea between Trieste and the Gargano massif in the region of Puglia. In 1987 it became a state park and a protected ecological area with 18 trails and several archeological sites. In a prominent spot on top of the cliffs, lies the pretty medieval town of Sirolo. A walk through the historic streets takes you through small shops, restaurants and an ancient castle fortress from the 7th century. Also worth a visit is the church of the Madonna del Rosario, whose walls are adorned with splendid 16th century frescoes.

Lunch at a seafood specialty restaurant with a wonderful sea views.

In the afternoon stop in Recanati for a guided walking tour of this fascinating city, well known as the city of Poetry and Belcanto: the tenor Beniamino Gigli was born here and also writer Giacomo Leopardi. Arrival at Ascoli Piceno in late afternoon. 

Evening at leisure.
 

Breakfast at hotel.

Private transfer to the countryside of Ripatransone, where you will reach a special woman-owned-and-operated winery. General Manager Marilena will guide you through the labyrinth of 85 years of history, recounting how Grandpa Guido sensed that this land was perfect to salvage the native Pecorino grape, from his wisdom comes the enchanting Pecorino white wine, which seems to pull flavors right out of these breathtakingly gorgeous hills. You’ll then sit down to a little feast, prepared to highlight their wines by the ladies of the family. Here you will enjoy a cooking lesson of a local specialty, “olive ascolane” typical large green olive stuffed with meat and fried! 

You'll then visit Ascoli Piceno, a unique city with a continuous history dating from the Sabine tribe in the 9th century. Ascoli (as it’s known locally) is like the long-lost cousin of ancient Rome and a small town but rich of history and food.  A special fact, most of its buildings and ancient houses were built with white stone called “travertino” found in the many travertine-stone caves around the city.
 
When in Ascoli Piceno, you can't miss a coffee break at the historical Caffè Meletti! Caffè Meletti has been and still is not only the gathering place of Ascoli life but also the city symbol in Italy and in the world. It is renowned for the quality of its service and pastries: the Pierina pastry, created in honor of Silvio Meletti’s wife Pierina, is very famous. The Caffè was sold in 1991 by the Meletti family and is now property of the Ascoli Piceno Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio.

Evening at leisure.
 

Breakfast at hotel.

Private transfer to Macerata: here the Renaissance baroque style and 18th century art shows its best with the Piazza della Libertà, La Loggia dei Mercanti and the historical theater Lauro Rossi. One of the most interesting places is the Basilica della Madonna della Misericordia projected by Vanvitelli, with frescoes, marbles and stucco works. You will also discover two other gems of this city: Palazzo Buonaccorsi and the Sferisterio Arena, an open-air theater where Giuseppe Verdi performed his Aida in 1921. 

Among beautiful landscapes you will find Urbisaglia and the Abbazia di Chiaravalle di Fiastra. The Abbey is one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in Italy and it is surrounded by a large nature reserve. You will end the morning with a gourmet lunch at a local osteria enjoying a seasonal menu.

Afternoon and evening at leisure.
 

Your Italy Vacation has come to an end as you transfer from your hotel in Ascoli Piceno to Rome for your last night before heading home.