The Marche (Italian: Le Marche, pronounced [leˈmarke]) is one of the 20 Regions of Italy. The Italian name Le Marche is the plural of marca, and literally means "the Marches", originally referring to the medieval March of Ancona and nearby marches of Camerino and Fermo.
The Marche are located in the Central area of the country, bordering Emilia-Romagna and the republic of San Marino to the north, Tuscany to the north-west, Umbria to the west, Abruzzo and Lazio to the south and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Except for river valleys and the often very narrow coastal strip, the land is hilly. In the nineteenth century, a railway from Bologna to Brindisi linked the Marche along the coastline of the entire territory. Inland, the mountainous nature of the region, even today, allows little travel north and south, except by rough roads over the passes.
Climate and Geography
The Marche extend over an area of 9,694 km2 of the central Adriatic slope between Emilia-Romagna to the north, Tuscany and Umbria to the west, and Lazio and Abruzzo to the south, the entire eastern boundary being formed by the Adriatic. Most of the region is mountainous or hilly, the main features being the Apennine chain along the internal boundary and an extensive system of hills descending towards the Adriatic. With the sole exception of Monte Vettore, 2,476 m high, the mountains do not exceed 2,000 m. The hilly area covers two-thirds of the region and is interrupted by wide gullies with numerous - albeit short - rivers and by alluvial plains perpendicular to the principal chain. The parallel mountain chains contain deep river gorges, the best known being those of the Furlo, the Rossa and the Frasassi.
The coastal area is 173 km long and is relatively flat and straight except for the hilly area between Gabicce and Pesaro in the north, and the eastern slopes of Monte Conero near Ancona.
The Marche were known in ancient times as the Picenum territory. The coastal area was occupied by the Senones, a tribe of Gauls. It was conquered by the Romans after the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC. The Romans founded numerous colonies in the areas, connecting them to Rome by the Via Flaminia and the Via Salaria. Ascoli was a seat of Italic resistance during the Social War (91–88 BC).
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the region was invaded by the Goths. After the Gothic War, it was part of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna (Ancona, Fano, Pesaro, Rimini, and Senigallia forming the so-called Pentapolis). After the fall of the Exarchate it was briefly in the possession of the Lombards, but was conquered by Charlemagne in the late eighth century. In the ninth to eleventh centuries the marches of Camerino, Fermo and Ancona were created, hence the modern name.
The Marche was nominally part of the Papal States, but most of the territory was under local lords, while the major cities ruled themselves as free communes. In the twelfth century, the commune of Ancona resisted both the imperial authority of Frederick Barbarossa and the Republic of Venice, and was a maritime republic on its own. An attempt to restore Papal suzerainty by Gil de Albornoz in the fourteenth century was short-lived.
During the Renaissance, the region was fought over by rival aristocratic families, such as the Malatesta of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano and the house of Montefeltro of Urbino. The last independent entity, the Duchy of Urbino, was dissolved in 1631, and from then on, the Marche was firmly part of the Papal States except during the Napoleonic period, which saw the short lived Republic of Ancona created in 1797, the merging of the region with the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Italy from 1808 to 1813, and then a short occupation by Joachim Murat. After Napoleon's defeat, the Marche returned to Papal rule until November 4, 1860, when it was annexed to the unified Kingdom of Italy by a plebiscite.
- Offida (Rosso & Bianco)
- Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva
- Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva
- Vernaccia di Serrapetrona
- Bianchello del Metauro
- Colli Maceratesi
- Colli Pesaresi
- Falerio dei Colli ascolani
- Lacrima di Morro d'Alba
- Rosso Conero
- Rosso Piceno
- Terreni di San severino
- Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
- Verdicchio di Matelica
Grapes and wines
Verdicchio is the plenipotentiary for the wines of this pleasant Adriatic region, whose devotion to whites should not obscure the worthiness of its reds. The Castelli di Jesi DOC zone, covering a vast tract of hills west of the port of Ancona, is the home of the Verdicchio that made an early impression abroad in its green amphora bottle.
But recently producers have created a new image of Verdicchio as a white of special character that comes across even more convincingly in standard bottles. Quality has risen so steadily that even wine still sold in amphora seems a cut above the general level of popular whites. This seems to herald a revival for a white produced at the rate of more than 20 million bottles a year that has been described as Italy's premier fish wine.
Verdicchio di Matelica, grown in limited quantities in a higher inland zone, can have more body and strength. From some estates it can develop into a white of unexpected depth and character after two or three years in bottle. Verdicchio from both DOC zones and elsewhere makes convincing sparkling wine as well, usually by the charmat method, but also ocasionally by the classical method of bottle fermentation. Until two decades ago, when Verdicchio was still largely a local wine, it was more often bubbly than not.
The region's other white wines, such as Bianchello del Metauro and Falerio dei Colli Ascolani, are usually light and zesty, also invariably good with seafood.
The red wines of the Marches are based chiefly on Sangiovese or Montepulciano - sometimes blended, sometimes not. The most important, in terms of volume, is Rosso Piceno, dominated by Sangiovese. It comes from a DOC zone covering nearly the entire eastern flank of the region stretching from the Superiore area between Ascoli Piceno and the sea north through the coastal hills to Senigallia.
Rosso Conero, dominated by Montepulciano, originates in a small zone on the slopes of the Conero massif south of Ancona. Both wines are habitually made to drink within two to four years, when they are persuasively round and fresh in flavour, though certain producers have made wines that age remarkably well from good vintages - sometimes for a decade or more. The DOC Sangiovese dei Colli Pesaresi, from the northern Marches, bears a strong family resemblance to the Sangiovese of neighbouring Romagna.