The villages of the Marche region are striking for their architectural masterpieces, and also for the beauty and variety of the surrounding scenery. The hills offer breathtaking views, stretching from the beaches along the coast to the majestic profile of the mountains.

    This postcard-worthy landscape is full of archaeological sites that tell the story of this land in the Roman period, while its fortified villages, still surrounded by towers and walls, bear witness to life in the period between the Middle Ages and Renaissance. There is no shortage of Romanesque and Gothic churches and monasteries here, giving the villages of Marche a certain spiritual feel. Discover 10 charming villages in Marche to plan your trip.

    1

    Jesi

    Toast with local tipple in Frederick II's birthplace

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    Jesi is the town where Emperor Frederick II and composer Giovanni Pergolesi were born and a hub of art and wine. It's on the Via delle Abbazie (Abbey Route), with three valuable examples of religious architecture: Chiesa di San Marco, Abbazia di Santa Maria del Piano and Chiesa di San Nicolò, one of the oldest Gothic buildings in the area.

    A wall encircles the historic centre, embellished with noble residences and Palazzo della Signoria (Signoria Palace). Don't miss the Cattedrale di San Settimio, the Museo Diocesan (Diocesan Museum) and the amazing Galleria degli Stucchi (Stucco Work Gallery). When your stomach starts rumbling, it's time to try some local specialities, all accompanied by local DOC wines like Rosso Piceno and Esino.

    Location: 60035 Jesi, Italy

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    2

    Mondavio

    Visit a town with a fortress and residence of the noble Della Rovere family

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    Mondavio is surrounded by a fortress known as Rocca Roveresca and boasts a masterpiece of military architecture. From its walkways to its walls, every detail was perfected to improve its defence and resistance to sieges. As it was never attacked, you can get a full picture of its stunning original architecture dating back to the 15th century.

    The whole town is filled with Renaissance-period architecture, and strolling through the historic centre you'll discover elegant mansions such as the Residenza dei Della Rovere (Della Rovere Residence) and Palazzo Giorgi Pierfranceschi (Giorgi Pierfranceschi Palace). Legend has it that the Chiesa di San Francesco (Church of Saint Francis), which dates back to medieval times with later renovations, was built by order of St Francis himself.

    Location: 61040 Mondavio, Italy

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    3

    Corinaldo

    Take historic trails and taste fine wines in medieval and Roman surroundings

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    Corinaldo has city walls and towers that give it a medieval feel, although its origins are much older. To see its Roman ruins, head to the Parco Archeologico della Città Romana di Suasa (Archaeological Park of the Roman City of Suasa), just outside town.

    The modern town centre’s streets and squares house churches and mansions, and you can climb up the bastions, visit the Pinacoteca (art gallery) or the Sala del Costume e delle Tradizioni Popolari (Hall of Popular Dress and Traditions), dedicated to life in centuries gone by. The stairs leading to the Pozzo della Polenta (Polenta Well) is great spot for selfies, with historical re-enactments taking place each July. Thirsty? Try a glass of Verdicchio, the quintessential local wine.

    Location: 60013 Corinaldo, Italy

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    4

    Cingoli

    Look out over the wonders of Marche from a natural balcony

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    Cingoli, sitting atop Monte Circe (Mount Circe), is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, with breathtaking views over the hills that slope gently towards the sea. The town centre is home to architectural attractions including the Collegiata di San Esuperanzio, a late-Romanesque and early-Gothic-style collegiate church, the magnificent Duomo (cathedral) and the Baroque Chiesa di San Filippo Neri (Church of San Filippo Neri).

    The cobbled alleys and stone streets, hugged tightly by the defensive walls, transport you to medieval times. If you're a history buff, the Museo Archeologico Statale (National Archaeological Museum) inside the Palazzo Comunale (town hall) holds finds from prehistoric times up to the Roman period. Before you go, stock up on local artisanal products from centre’s many shops.

    Location: 62011 Cingoli, Italy

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    5

    Frontino

    Be captivated by the scenery in a fortified village

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    The historic centre of Frontino, protected by its mountaintop location and town walls, almost seems like a castle. Strolling its streets, you'll discover it's actually a romantic village where the cobbled alleys, vine-covered fortifications, and windows and balconies adorned with flowers create a magical atmosphere.

    There’s more beauty just outside the town, in two religious complexes: at Monastero di San Girolamo (Monastery of San Girolamo) and Convento di Montefiorentino (Montefiorentino Convent) you’ll find masterpieces such as the Cappella dei Conti Oliva (Conti Oliva Chapel). If you're travelling with children, take them to the Parco Faunistico Pian dei Prati (Pian dei Prati Wildlife Park), where they'll get up close to domestic and wild animals such as sheep, roe deer and owls.

    Location: 61021 Frontino, Italy

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    6

    Sarnano

    Take a stroll through the beauty of art and nature

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    Sarnano is a small town full of history, stunning spots and amazing views over the Monti Sibillini (Sibillini Mountains). The walls, alleys and fortifications have kept their medieval look, while the Chiesa di Santa Maria (Church of Santa Maria) in Piazza Alta has a wonderful Romanesque gate and 16th-century frescoes.

    If you’re into art and local culture, you can visit an art gallery and four museums, or see a show at the Teatro della Vittoria, a elegantly decorated 19th-century theatre with three tiers of boxes. Prefer hiking? An easy, flat route around 6 km long leaves from the town centre: the stunning Via delle Cascate Perdute (Lost Waterfall Route) will take you past three amazing waterfalls along the Tennacola torrent.

    Location: 62028 Sarnano, Italy

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    7

    Moresco

    Experience medieval ambiance in the shadow of a watchtower

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    Moresco is a village suspended in time and space, between a medieval past and a modern future, between the azure sky and blue sea. From the 25-metre high watchtower, the view takes in the Adriatic coast, with the profile of Monte Conero (Mount Conero), as well as the outline of the Apennines, where the Gran Sasso massif stands out.

    The small village, with its narrow streets, stone houses and clock tower, stretches out from the foot of the fortification, which has an usual heptagonal shape. Look carefully at the portico as you cross the square: it's all that remains from the nave of an old church. Various artworks are displayed inside the town hall, including a 16th-century altarpiece.

    Location: 63826 Moresco, Italy

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    8

    Montecassiano

    Hear the sound of the centuries enclosed within old walls

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    Montecassiano is surrounded by 3 original intact gates in the imposing city walls. Once inside, you'll find yourself in a small town with a timeless charm that has endured over centuries. For the most important architecture, head to Piazza Unità d'Italia where Palazzo dei Priori and Palazzo Compagnucci stand, the second of which is home to the Pinacoteca Civica (municipal art gallery).

    If you go up the stairs separating the two buildings, you'll reach Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta (Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta), which houses a beautiful altarpiece. If you love nature walks, don't miss Parco del Cerreto (Cerreto Park) below the western walls and its amazing mountain views.

    Location: 62010 Montecassiano, Italy

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    9

    Sassoferrato

    See medieval architecture near the site of a historic battle

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    Sassoferrato has ancient origins that go back to the dawn of the Roman Empire. To see the ancient town’s remains, visit the archaeological site on the outskirts of town, while the finds from the area, including mosaics, sculptures and inscriptions, are on display at the Museo Civico Archeologico (Municipal Archaeological Museum) on Piazza Matteotti in the historic town centre.

    The main buildings that characterise Sassoferrato have medieval origins, such as Chiesa di Santa Chiara (Church of Santa Chiara), Santuario della Madonna della Grazie (Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie) and the Rocca di Albornoz fortress. In summer months, this solid construction, which once defended the town and the valley, turns into a picturesque setting for concerts and cultural initiatives.

    Location: 60041 Sassoferrato, Italy

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    10

    Offagna

    Where the Middle Ages come alive through art, festivals and flavours

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    Offagna stands majestically over the rolling hills inland from Ancona, protected by its clifftop location. Despite the military function, the fortification's elegant lines give it a fairy-tale look. Inside the castle, you can visit a museum displaying arms, hunting tools and period clothing. A visit to Offagna is a must in July, when the townspeople go back in time with historical re-enactments as part of the Feste Medievali (Medieval Festival).

    Damsels and knights, jousting on horseback and shows with flag-throwers liven up the streets and squares lit by torches. You can also taste tradition here, with dishes such as the famous crescia, a typical flatbread that has ancient origins.

    Location: 60020 Offagna, Italy

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