Marche

Leave the crowded beaches behind you and drive towards Le Marche. As you move away from the coast, the region transforms into a mountainous adventure along the Apennines passes, with towering hills and stunning scenery, rivalled only by those that lie across the other side of the mountains. In the depths of winter, you can ski down peaks like Monte Carpegna, watching the glaciers pass before your eyes. Like a postcard, if it wasn’t for the snowy chill on your nose.

But while it feels like you’re on the frontier, Marche is actually in the heartland. The most popular dish: a warming, comforting twist on the nation’s favourite part of an antipasti. Olive Ascolane (from the city of Ascoli Piceno) consists of green olives stuffed with meat and cheese, which are covered in breadcrumbs and then deep-fried to turn them into a golden brown crunchy cover. This traditional starter should then be followed by some Cianuscolo (smoked pork sausages), Vincisgrassi (12 layers of soft pasta shaped in a lasagna style and filled with veal ragù, chicken liver truffles or wild mushrooms) or perhaps some Brodetto all’Anconeta (fish soup).

But Marche is most famous for its wines. Around 20,000 hectares (13/20) of land are used to grow grapes with the primary variations including Verdicchio, Pecorino, Sangiovese and Montepulciano.

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