Rebecca's verdict on must-see architecture in Le Marche
Le Marche’s understated towns hold more than artistic masterpieces. Here are a number of untrumpeted architectural jewels to visit on your next trip through this pretty region:
Urbino. The Palazzo Ducale (home to the Galleria Nazionale) is one of the most important architectural monuments in Italy, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Reknowned for its famed studiolo decorated with intricate trompe l'oeil inlaid wooden panels, twin chapels, and stately inner courtyard, this 15th-century palace also has a vast warren of underground service rooms—including the kitchens, laundries, stables, and baths—recently renovated and now open to the public.
Pesaro. This pretty seaside town’s bustling Piazza Del Popolo is lined with a number of Medieval and Renaissance palazzi, including the 15th-century Palazzo Postale. Built by the powerful Sforza family and then used as the city’s main post office, the building is now a centre for events and conferences. The piazza is also home to the porticoed and crenellated Palazzo Ducale, and an octagonal central fountain rebuilt after World War II in its original 16th-century form.
Recanati. Birthplace of one of Italy’s most important poets, Giacomo Leopardi, this pretty hilltown above the Adriatic and Palazzo Leopardi is home to a small collection of the poet’s memorabilia and manuscripts. The town has a number of small and interesting churches, but be sure to stop in at the Cathedral of San Flaviano and admire the breathtaking 17th-century wood ceiling.
Ascoli Piceno. Elegant Ascoli-Piceno is said to have once had more than 200 Medieval towers jutting above its rooftops, though today only a few still remain. What the city does have is one of the most beautiful Renaissance piazzas in all of Italy. The Piazza del Popolo, lined with elegant travertine marble palazzi, portici, and the Church of San Francesco, is especially beautiful after a rain, when the smooth marble pavement mirrors the harmonious architecture above.