This area is truly the “undiscovered Italy.” Because of the Apennine Mountains to the west, historically, it has been somewhat isolated from the rest of Central Italy, yet in terms of American distances, it is reasonably close to many cities and tourist attractions.

The area is dotted by small towns ranging in size from 200 to 3,000 inhabitants. The nearest town, Sestino, has pre-Roman origins and was called Sestinium by the Romans.

All of the nearby towns have historic centers dating to the Middle Ages or before.

 

This is a region that globalization has not yet touched – there are no hypermarts or convenience stores. The locals still shop at the local butcher, baker and corner market.

The area is predominantly oriented towards le Marche, as all of the main roads follow the Foglia and Metauro rivers east through le Marche into the Adriatic. Le Marche is one of the least known regions in Italy . But it is finally being discovered by tourists. In 2005, the New York Times called le Marche “the Next Tuscany” and published a photo essay and travel guide on its website.

 

The UK Guardian has also written extensively about le Marche over the years, and a 2001 travel article summed up the undiscovered pleasures of le Marche like this:

“The Marche is on the same latitude as much of Tuscany and Umbria but has been isolated by geography and history. It is cut off from western Italy by the Apennines, and from the sixteenth to the late-nineteenth century was the private territory of the Vatican. Papal rule had its faults, but it was a wonderful preserver of medieval towns. To anyone who has risked all on the Amalfi coast road or tried to find the hidden parking spaces of Florence, the quiet of the Marche's interior is an astonishment and a relief.

Even the stunning mountain city of Urbino, known to John Mortimer readers as the terminus of the Piero della Francesca trail, was thriving but scarcely busy on a summer Saturday. Its ducal palace has one of the best Renaissance collections in Europe, but you can linger and gaze without interruption.

The prospect of attracting visitors whose interest in art is complemented by frankly obsessive desires for good food and accommodation is stirring a region which isn't poor (the absence of visible poverty shames a British visitor) but doesn't want to go the way of Rimini up the coast. 'Culture,' Princess Giulia Panichi-Pignatelli told me, 'will be our oil.' “ -The UK Guardian