Few places can offer the full charm of historical and cultural experiences that the Emilia Romagna and Marche regions have in store. Once you’ve played your last shot on the green, you can discover some of the most beautiful natural landscapes Italy has to offer, from the much sought after Conero Riviera and its beautiful beaches, to medieval towns rich in art and history and an extensive religious culture preserved in old churches.
Cervia Salt Pan
The Cervia Salt Pan (RA) is a large natural park located South of the Po Delta Regional Park, where every year, from late August to early September, the rite of the collection of salt takes place. Also known as “black gold”, Cervia’s sweet salt is an integral sea salt characterised by its sweet flavour, as it is made of sodium chloride.
This area is also an important location from an environmental and ecological standpoint. Not by chance, it was recognised as a Wetland of International Importance in the Ramsar Convention and since 1979 it has been a State Natural Reserve of Animal Population.
In the summer, the guided tours organised by the Reserve’s visitor centre allow visitors to observe the many animal species that inhabit this area, on foot or by boat.
San Leo, located in Montefeltro (RN), has been recognised as one of “The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” and is undoubtedly one of the most charming medieval towns to discover, thanks to its natural characteristics and its valuable historical and artistic heritage.
First and foremost, the town boasts a unique location, standing on an impressive rocky mass with sheer walls, which in the past offered an ideal military defence position. From here, visitors can enjoy a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains.
The village is home to the ancient fortress that once served as a harsh prison, and where the Count of Cagliostro was imprisoned.
A number of buildings from the Romanesque period are also worth visiting, including the Parish Church, Palazzo Mediceo which houses the Sacred Art Museum, the residence of the Counts Severini-Nardini and Palazzo Della Rovere, which serves as the Municipality headquarters.
Recognised with an Orange Flag (eco-tourist award) by the Italian Touring Club, Verucchio is worth a visit for a number of reasons. Culturally, it houses many Etruscan testimonies dating back to the period between the 9th and 6th centuries BC.
In the Archaeological Museum, visitors can admire the remains of necropolises from around the village, unearthed during archaeological excavations.
On the other hand, the fortress and the Romanesque Parish Church the Franciscan Monastery – which according to tradition was founded by Saint Francis in 1213 – belong to the Middle Ages.
And to top it off, visitors will surely be enchanted by the beautiful surrounding landscapes of the Marecchia River Valley.
The Rimini-Verucchio Golf Club is located nearby in Villa Verucchio, so there’s certainly no better occasion than a visit after a round of golf.
Visiting Urbino (PS) is synonymous with taking a plunge into the very heart of the Italian Renaissance. Not surprisingly, given the concentration of precious monuments waiting to be explored, Urbino’s historic town centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The recommend itinerary starts off from the birthplace of painter Raphael Sanzio, in Via Raffaello.
Palazzo Ducale is certainly worth a visit, home of the National Gallery of The Marches and the Lapidarium Archaeological Museum, together with Piazza Rinascimento, where visitors will get the chance to admire the hieroglyphs of the Egyptian obelisk, one of 12 authentic obelisks in Italy. Resistance Park, dominated by the Albornoz Fortress, which houses the Museum of Arms, is also worth a visit. The Park offers the pleasant opportunity to relax on the lawn and enjoy the beautiful view over the city of Urbino.
San Marino is the oldest Republic in Europe and along with Mount Titan (Monte Titano), has been declared a World Heritage Site.
A short distance from the Adriatic Coast, the “Land of Freedom” attracts hundreds of tourists from around the world throughout the year, thanks to its timeless appeal. Its three impressive towers serve as the symbol of the city-state.
While strolling among the colourful alleys full of souvenir shops, it is also worth visiting the town’s churches and monasteries, such as Santa Chiara and the Church of San Francesco, palaces and characteristic squares such as Piazza della Libertà, which offers a lovely view across the Valley. Visitors might also enjoy the various museums and theatres, such as the ancient Titan Theatre, the local library and the State Archives.
The fortified village of Gradara (PU), located on the border between the Marche and Emilia Romagna regions, is one of the best-preserved medieval structures in Italy and one of the country’s most interesting cultural destinations.
Gradara’s cultural heritage has been recognised with numerous awards including the Italian Touring Club’s Orange Flag (eco-tourist award), as well as ranking among “The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” and defined as the “Capital of the Middle Ages”.
Its charming castle, open to visitors together with the towers and the fortified walls, is well known for the legend of Paolo and Francesca’s thwarted love narrated in the 5th canto of Dante’s Inferno.
Enjoying a beautiful location surrounded by scenic olive groves and vineyards, the town also boasts a rather interesting culinary tradition waiting to be discovered in the many typical restaurants.
Part of the beautiful Conero Riviera, Loreto (AN) is famous for the Shrine of the Holy House dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which attracts pilgrims from all over the world.
The shrine houses the Nazarene Home of Our Lady where the Virgin was born, lived and received the Annunciation.
The alcove of the Sanctuary preserves the venerated statue of the Virgin of Loreto (a copy, as the original dating back to the 14th century was destroyed in a fire in 1921). The Sanctuary also houses valuable votive paintings from the 14th century and some of the most important monumental sculptural complexes of the Italian Renaissance.
One of the lesser-known treasures of the Sanctuary are the so-called “Camminamenti di Ronda” (restored walkways), offering a rare Italian example of a structure used as a church-fortress.
Recanati (MC) strikes visitors with its unique location, thanks to the almost surreal tranquillity in which it is immersed. Not by chance, the town is known as the “typical balcony city” for its sweeping landscapes.
Recanati’s name is no doubt synonymous with that of Giacomo Leopardi and his poetry. Visitors can stop by “Casa Leopards”, the poet’s birth house and stroll along the “Colle dell’Infinito” (the summit of Mount Tabor) from where a splendid panorama of the countryside can be admired, which inspired the poet in one of his poems.
A number of other buildings worth a visit include the Beniamino Gigli Museum located inside the Teatro Persiani, dedicated to one of the most beloved opera singers, whose construction was overseen by film director Gabris Ferrari, Professor at the Academy of Venice.
Sirolo and Numana
The towns of Sirolo and Numana, two resorts famous for their beautiful beaches and clear water, are nestled in the heart of the Conero Riviera.
Sirolo, considered the “Pearl of the Adriatic” and recognised with the European Blue Flag award, is a typical medieval village (inhabited since prehistoric times) known for its wild beaches, caves and white rocks covered with pine trees that seem to dive into the clear water. One of the most famous beaches in the area is the beach of the “Two Sisters” (characterised by the two stacks that emerge from the sea), accessible only by sea with boats that depart from the Marina of Numana.
Numana, also a European Blue Flag recipient and ancient port of the Piceno region dating back to the 5th century BC, is the ideal spot to alternate sunbathing and the sea, with the lush green offered by the wild nature of the Conero Park.