Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Le Marche - Undiscovered and Unforgettable

The Marche region is located in central Italy, its eastern coastline bathed in the Adriatic Sea. Moving inland from the beaches, rolling hills play host to half-hidden castles and hamlets surrounded by winding roads that open to endless vistas. It is less touristed than neighboring Tuscany and Umbria and is celebrated for its high quality of life. It’s no wonder that, according to a recent study, residents of Le Marche enjoy a longer life expectancy than anywhere else in Italy.

Le Marche is interested in attracting tourists, however, and to that end Riccardo Strano, Director of Italian Government Tourist Board North America, hosted an informational event in NYC. Amerigo Varotti, Director of the Le Marche’s Trade and Commerce Federation focused the presentation on the region’s northern province of Pesaro and Urbino. According to Mr. Varotti, “This event is an opportunity to present American travel professionals with the best of our region; particularly its history and culture, fashion, food and wine. The New York Times has recently named Le Marche ‘The New Tuscany.’ Here, the American tourist will find peace and harmony, as well as high quality tourist services.” Other members of the delegation included Pietro Marcolini, Le Marche Minister of Culture and Alberto Drudi, President of Pesaro Urbino Chamber of Commerce.

From left: Pietro Marcolini, Riccardo Strano, Amerigo Varotti.

The city of Pesaro boasts beautiful beachfront and a fishing port along with its cultural offerings. It’s the birthplace of the great composer Rossini and hosts the annual Rossini Opera Festival (August 10-23, 2011). The Palazzo Ducale, a recently restored 15th century Renaissance palace, is a jewel hosting public art exhibition space. Not far from the Palazzo, the Cattedrale contains mosaics from the 6th and 4th centuries.

The city of Urbino is a treasure of art and architecture. Here you will fine the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, housing artworks by Raphael (who was born here) and Piero della Francesca. For architecture, the towers and turrets of Urbino’s many palaces, as well as their intricate interiors, are stunningly preserved. Mr. Varotti noted, “Urbino is the birthplace of the Renaissance painter and architect, Raffaello Sanzio, as well as the cradle of humanistic science.”

Le Marche has a rich musical history beside from being Rossini’s birthplace. The region gave the world opera luminaries like Renata Tibaldi, Beniamino Gigli and Franco Corelli. Although the Rossini Opera Festival is an international stand-out, Le Marche celebrates other types of entertainment as well. From blues and jazz to klezmer, dance productions including ballet, concerts, plays and even a comedy festival, the arts have a home in Le Marche.

And speaking of art, the province of Pesaro and Urbino is home to ancient, hand-crafted traditions. Ceramics flourish in Pesaro, Urbania and Vado. Terracotta figures are made in Fratterosa and Pesaro is famous for handmade pipes. Hand-woven carpets can be found at Piobbico and Novilara, and the working wrought iron is a generations-old practice in Cagli. Stone cutters and stone masons of Sant'Ippolito continue to create detailed figures and motifs, while goldsmiths fashion beauty in Fano.

To see a wonderful Italian commercial for the Le Marche region starring Dustin Hoffman, click here.

To learn more about this intriguing region, click here.

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