The province of Macerata is in the centre of the five provinces of Le Marche and, in common with the other provinces of Le Marche, is spread from east to west. It borders the Adriatic coast to the east, the province of Ancona to the north, the provinces of Fermo and Ascoli Piceno to the south and Umbria to the west.
Province of Macerata, Le Marche
Covering 2,774 km², Macerata is the largest province in the region of Le Marche and almost 70% of the area is hilly with the rest being mountainous.
The nearest airport to Macerata is Aeroporto di Ancona-Falconara in Ancona which is about 80 kilometres away from the town of Macerata. Aeroporto di Ancona-Falconara (AOI) is located in Falconara Marittima to the west of Ancona and is around 50km from the town of Fermo. This airport is also known as Aeroporto Raffaello Sanzio.
The nearest ferry port is Ancona, around 80km from the town of Macerata. The port, one of the main ports on the Adriatic Sea, is located near the centre of Ancona and is a busy passenger port with ferries running to Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro. It has good facilities with a café, shop, restrooms and both short and long term car parks.
There is a good train line running down the eastern coast of Le Marche and a direct train from Rome to the town of Macerata.
The main road serving Macerata, along with the rest of the region of Le Marche, is the A14 motorway (Autostrada A14 or Autostrada Adriatica).This motorway runs between the cities of Bologna and Taranto, mostly hugging the Adriatic coastline. The A14 motorway is 743.4 km in length and mainly consists of two lanes, three in parts of the north, and has many hills, tunnels and bridges. There is also a major
road from Rome to Macerata town which will take around 3.5 hours.
This is the capital of the province of Macerata and is a university town with around 15,000 students. The town is in two parts with the old town (centro storico) sitting on a hill with the new town spread out below it. The two parts of the town are connected by steep steps and an elevator.
In the centre of the old town is the Piazza della Libertà which is surrounded by some beautiful Renaissance architecture and other striking buildings. The Neoclassical cathedral, with an interior designed by Cosimo Morelli, was built between 1771 and 1790 and it has the remains of a 15th century Gothic bell tower. The main, and most spectacular attraction of the town in the Arena Sferisterio. This was originally designed for the ancient sport of 'pallone col bracciale' but is now used as a football stadium, tennis courts and an open air theatre. Recently it has been adapted to present opera and in July and August every year the Sferisterio Opera Festival takes place.
Arena Sferisterio - Photo: Florian Prischl
Other towns and villages worth visiting in this province are:
- Caldarola - This town has several castles, Croce, Vestignano, Pievefavera and Castello Pallotta which was built in the 9th century and then rebuilt in the 16th century. There is also the 16th century Pallotta Palace and the Collegiata di San Martin which was built in 1587.
- Camerino - Camerino is another university town in the province of Macerata and the University of Camerino was founded in the Middle Ages. The Ducal Palace, part of one of the faculties of the university, is one of the most important Renaissance buildings in central Italy.
There is an early 19th century cathedral with a crypt flanked by two stone lions from the 13th century.
The Rocco di Borgia (1503) is an impressive site with its massive keep and cylindrical towers.
The 16th century Archbishops Palace has been turned into a museum and holds several important masterpieces.
This town also has a late Gothic church (S. Venanzio) which has retained its original façade and bell tower, an early 16th century gate (Porta Malatestiana) and the medieval Abbey of Fiastra.
Built on the site of the ancient fortress of Cingulum, this town is known as 'Il Balcone delle Marche' (The Balcony of Marche) due to its staggering views. On a clear day you can gaze over the surrounding countryside to the Adriatic sea where it is possible to catch sight of the mountain tops of Croatia on the other side.
This is pretty village high up in the mountainous region of the province of Macerata and it has some interesting historical sites:
Hermitage of San Cataldo - a medieval guard tower resting on the top of a mountain and facing the town.
Church of San Martino - built in the Middle Ages and located right in the middle of the town centre.
Fountain of San Martino - built in the 12th century and rebuilt in 1534.
Just outside this town, 700 metres above sea level, is Lago Fiastra which is a beautiful lake surrounded by a white chalk beach. Set in the middle of green fields and with a backdrop of forests and mountains it is a perfect location for a peaceful family day out. You can swim and fish in the lake, take a boat trip, hire umbrellas and sunbeds on the beach and there are a wealth of activities to suit both parents and children.
Lago Fiastra - Photo: Lorenzo Ferrucci
Situated 652 metres above sea level the village of Gualdo offers spectacular views of the Sibillini Mountains. Parts of the wall and some towers of the medieval castle can still be seen.
A well preserved village from the Middle Ages with several monuments and churches from various periods. The old town centre is steeped in history and has some interesting narrow streets such as Vicolo Orfanelle. This a narrow, twisting alley known locally as 'baciafemmine' (kiss the girls) as it is possible to disappear with someone into one of the many nooks and crannies along the way and not be seen by people walking by. There is also old tradition kept alive in the town maintaining that anyone who runs seven laps around the fountain in the middle of Piazza Enrico Mattei,under the supervision of an officer, can be awarded a license to be a crazy person!
Here you can find the attractive Abbey of St. Firmanus, a Romanesque abbey built in the late 9th century AD and home to a terracotta by Ambrogio della Robbia.
This small town also has the Palazzo del Podestà and Civic Tower as well as Medieval gates, a couple of pleasant churches and an art gallery.
Penna San Giovanni
Penna is a very ancient hilltop town which spends most of the year covered in mud due to continual heavy rain. At the highest point of the town the remains of an ancient fort can be found and panoramic views of the mountains and surrounding hilltop towns can be enjoyed. It also has several notable churches and a tiny early 19th century theatre.
Recanati is also known as 'the city of poetry' due to it being the birthplace and home town of the poet Giacomo Leopardi. It also has some interesting historical architecture, castles and churches.
Montefiore Castle - this castle dates back to the late middle ages and has a polygonal shape and a high tower.
Church and cloister of Sant'Agostino - first built in the 13th century but then rebuilt almost a hundred years later.
Carabinieri barracks built in the 14th century.
Co-Cathedral of St. Flavian - dating back to the 14th century and the burial place of Pope Gregory XII.
Palazzo Venieri and Palazzo Mazzagalli - both designed by Giuliano da Maiano.
Church of Santa Maria di Castelnuovo - built in the 12th century it has a Byzantine style lunette over its portal which is signed and dated 1253. Inside there is a fresco by Pietro di Domenico of Montepulciano.
Church of St. Vitus - only the apse and the bell tower remain from the original structure and after an earthquake in 1741 the façade was remade. after an earthquake in 1741. It holds some interesting works of art.
Other notable churches are the Church of San Domenico (15th century), the Church of San Pietrino (14th century) and the Church of Madonna delle Grazie (1465).
San Severino Marche
There are the remains of the original medieval city here showing the communal tower, two gates, cathedral and bell tower. Also, this town has the archaeological remains of Septempeda showing the baths, gates and walls.
Piazza de Popolo, San Severino Marche - Photo: Moongateclimber
Piazza del Popolo is the main square and was once a 13th century fortified square.
Basilica of San Lorenzo in Doliolo was reportedly built in the 13th century over the 2nd century temple of Feronia. The crypt certainly dates back to the 6th century and has a few remains of original frescoes.
The new Cathedral of Sant'Agostino.
Churches of Santa Maria del Glorioso, San Giuseppe and San Domenico.
Giuseppe Moretti Archaeological Museum.
The medieval military fortress, Rocca di Urbisaglia, can be found here. The fortress has a trapezoidal shape with the longest side facing away from the town, in the direction of any potential attackers. With its four corner towers and gate tower it makes an impressive sight.
The main attraction of this town is the Archaeological Park of Urbs Salvia, which spreads out over an area of almost 100 acres and was officially recognised as an important archaeological site in 1994. Just outside the medieval city walls of the town of a path of around 1.5k in length descends through the Archaeological Park. This gives you a good idea of the original layout of the ancient town and you are able to visit many points of interest along the way.
Other points of interest include the Abbey of Chiaravalle di Fiastra, San Lorenzo Collegiate church, Chiesa della Maestà and the Chiesa dell'Addolorata.
Every year throughout July and August a season of high quality, classical drama takes place in the amphitheatre.
Coastal towns and resorts:
- Civitanova Marche - As well as being a seaside resort this town is also a fishing port and has a marina. It has wide beaches with shallow water to the north and deeper water at its southern end which is the more attractive area of coast. There is a good cycling path which makes a pleasant way of seeing the surrounding area and coastline. The town centre is wide and agreeable with many green parks and open spaces as well as historical buildings and architecture. It offers some very stylish shops, particularly around the Piazza XX Settembre where designer outlets can be found.
- Porto Recanati - Porto Recanati is a very popular resort, with 8 km wide beaches, some sandy and some pebbled. The resort offers everything a family could need from playgrounds for children, leisure facilities, modern beach resorts, good and plentiful hotels and a lively night life.
The town centre has a castle, tiny narrow streets with brick houses and is packed with good, reasonably priced restaurants.
Food and Wine
There are some very interesting traditional dishes from the province of Macerata:
- Brodetto - a fish stew, from the coastal area of the province, which must be made with exactly thirteen different species of fish.
- Ciaouscolo - a sort of soft sausage, a bit like pate, made from pork which has been ground three times and seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic. Ciaouscolo is eaten spread on either very fresh bread or toasted bread.
- Lasagna Vincisgrassi - a local pasta dish made from alternate layers of pasta, cheese and meat sauce which contains giblets and brain.
Two red wines produced in the province are Rosso Piceno DOC and Vernaccia Nera along with the white Verdicchio di Matelica DOC.