Le Marche – an Italian secret being whispered quietly
Marche tourism growth outstrips Tuscany
A recent article pronounces that year on year tourism growth for Le Marche region at 6.3% is outstripping the 4.6% of near Italian neighbour Tuscany and lovers of this little known area can’t help but be pleased that more travellers are becoming smitten by its charms
Le Marche -still a closely guarded secret
Now, many of you who have already been to Le Marche will be alarmed to learn that the cat is out of the bag and that increasing numbers of travellers have learnt about your secret escape. However, numbers of tourists are still relatively low when you consider that Le Marche is a vast and beautiful region of 9694 km2, there is also plenty of accommodation and the area’s incredible variety ensures that visitors do not flood specific places of interest. The numbers of foreign travellers to the region actually totalled 389,000 compared to 6.7million to Tuscany, so there’s still room for many more!
Unsullied Slow travel
In fact Marche region’s economy still depends significantly upon agriculture and its local artisans, who thrive by continuing ancient traditions, customs and recipes that depend on locally sourced products and skills.
The area is famed for its leather industry, but many of the most cutting edge shoe manufacturers in the area know that sometimes slower is better and they still have their shoes hand stitched by local octogenarians who sit on sunny verandas sewing leather with bare gnarled hands. Despite growing tourist numbers the pace of life has not changed and visitors often feel that they have stepped back in time and are always greeted with a friendly hello.
Back to basics Self sufficiency
As the western world increasingly recognizes a need to get back to basics, without the chattels of modern daily life, it attempts to rediscover self-sufficiency, survival techniques, foraging and a green sustainable way of life without food-miles and serious impacts on the environment. A trip to Marche Italy will open your eyes to a harmonious, symbiotic region where this way of life has never disappeared.
A unique travel experience
Intrepid travellers these days have grown to appreciate unique “experiences” on their holidays and the travel industry in mature destinations such as Tuscany have cottoned on and charge substantial sums for visitors who wish to get under the skin of a place.
Take Truffle hunting; which can cost €250 a person in Tuscany but you can experience for as little as €25 in Marche Italy and you get to keep the truffles! Or guided walking, in Marche you can hire a personal guide for €100 for the day or join an organised walk from as little as €10. Or try a free trip to Campofilone and watch the noblest of pasta being handmade the way it always has.
Free wine tastings at local Cantinas
Take a visit to a wine cantina and you can avoid paying for a costly tour, most of them will be happy to open a few bottles and let you try their wines.
They may even give you a tour and if you shop around you may find a real corker which you can ship directly home. Favourites include the stupendous architecture of Il Pollenza near Tolentino, their “sfuso” or draft wine includes a barrichato 18 month oak aged fortified wine and a number of wines that combine the best French grapes with Italian Sangiovese and Montepulciano.
Also try the sumptuous organic Pecorino, Passerina, Rosso Piceno and Montepulciano vino from award winning winery Centanni, they also have a deal allowing you to ship as many wines as you like for €100 (UK).
Mouth watering food without the jaw dropping prices
At Picciolo di Rame resturant in Marche a 12 course tasting menu of ancient local recipes using locally sourced delicacies which would cost at least €75 in Tuscany, costs only €30 and that includes wine. A coffee in most bars is still under €1 in Marche whereas travellers to Tuscany will often pay €3 or more. If you want fresh local vegetables there are plenty of local markets where you can keep prices down by only buying what’s in season.
Tap the local knowledge
Chat to locals and they will let you know which farms grow organically or where you will find the best prices by buying your meat and cheese directly. For them provenance is everything. Alternatively, ask your hosts which are the best shops, they are likely to know say, a butcher who sources local meat and probably knows what the animal was fed on and even maybe its name.
Le Marche is often compared to Toscana because, like Tuscany, it has meandering lanes that weave their way through a rich rolling agricultural tapestry, illuminated by the glowing terracotta of myriad medieval hill towns. It also has wonderful architecture, art and culture, museums and most towns and many villages have incredibly ornate baroque theatres.
The Spring, Summer and Autumn festa seasons allow the traveller to celebrate alfresco and sit down and eat hearty, rustic local food and drink with locals. Marche also has that incredible Adriatic coastline and some superb sandy beaches and numerous wild national parks that include the Sibillini Mountains.
Great value property and holiday rentals
Holiday Accommodation in Marche is still great value , a reflection of the strangely lower demand and the cost of property that the article reports as being 35% less expensive than Tuscany.
Visitors to Marche are often so enchanted by the region they contemplate moving lock stock and barrel or buying a second home there and with house prices as low as these and a weak euro you can see why.
But don’t wait too long, the whispers are getting louder and the whistle blowers are starting to leak secret Le Marche.