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Le Marche (pronounced Le Markay) is tucked into a corner of Italy between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea.
It reaches from Emilia-Romagna in the north to Abruzzo in the south. From the relatively narrow coastal plains the land rises sharply to the peaks of the Apennines, forming a natural boundary with Umbria and Tuscany to the west.
Indeed it has very similar topography to Tuscany: rolling hills, great gleaming stretches of agricultural land and vineyards, some magnificent historic sites - this region claims to have the largest number of museums and galleries per province in the whole of Italy - as well as tiny gems of medieval towns just about anywhere you journey.
But it has something more: the sea stretched right along the Eastern side, facing Croatia, like a dazzling blue hem to the region. Le Marche has a population of around 1.5 million with an average density of less than 150 inhabitants per square kilometere so finding real peace and quiet is very possible.
And so far Le Marche, is blissfully little discovered by foreign visitors and thus maintains all the charm of a region carrying on in its own way, adhering to traditions and welcoming visitors as something of a novelty.
The charm of Cupra is its small size and the fact it is, scarcely touched by tourism, relaxed and it has the feel of a 1950s seaside town , with small brightly painted hotels with wrought iron balconies along the sea front, pines, palms and oleander trees bringing green and colour to the seafront and streets.
In the central piazza is the Caffe Seicento where they serve class cappuccinos and a smaller coffee with foam amaretto. The town may be small but it has some first-class shops.
You smell the fresh bread being prepared in the bakery down the street and they have a large range of breads including local rustic loaves. The fish shop on the main street through town has a large range of fresh fish, prepared dishes to be heated up and these include fish and chips!
The butcher almost hidden besides the steps coming down to the piazza has excellent meat and right beside it is Spinosis delicatessen. They do not have a large range of foods, but their fresh pastas and sauces, their biscuits and jams are delicious.
The pizzeria on the corner of the square is our favourite and there is a gelateria selling plenty of fresh ice-cream just behind here. So if you don’t feel like eating at one of the local restaurants, there is no shortage of places to buy quality ingredients to cook at home.
Cupra may be small but it has its own music festival. The Tourist Office is in the Public Square in the Town Hall (next to Café Seicento) and the staff are helpful and most speak good English – enthusiastically.
This town came into being after a temple was built in Roman times in honour of the goddess Cupra. Indeed mention of Cupra can be found in the texts of historians such as Stabone, Pomponio Mela, Pinius.
There are still sites of interest: the 13th century castle of St. Andrea. The town’s Archaeological Museum and the Museo di Malacologia, the biggest museum of shells in the world. And every year in August the Sagra delle Vongole festival takes place with fishermen preparing spaghetti with vongole shell sauce.
Cupra is steeped in history and underwent important development during the Picenan era. Gravesites dating back to the 12th century BC containing weapons, jewellery and vases have been found in the area
The coast along Le Marche is mostly quite flat and therefore cycling is easy. There is a cycle path stretching from Cupra through Grottamare and on to San Benedetto, but cycling is only one highlight of Le Marche's many offerings. More...
Urbino, in the very north of the region, is said to be where the Renaissance began and it is famed as an exceptionally beautiful town, described by one author as: "a jumble of Renaissance and medieval houses". More...
Le Marche prides itself on having one of the fullest calendars of musical events that you will find in Italy. But that's not all. You'll find things like opera, food & drink festivals and even frog racing in wheelbarrows. More...