A mountainous agricultural region located on the central Adriatic
coast, south of San Marino. The regional capital is Ancona,
an important naval and commercial port, with daily ferry services
to Albania, Croatia, Greece and Montenegro.
The city is also home to several well-preserved Roman remains such
as the Arco di Traiano and the Anfiteatro
Romano. The majestic hilltop Basilica di San Ciriaco,
built in the 11th century, combines Romanesque style with Byzantine
elements. Out of town, along the coast, lie several highly organised
beach resorts, with sunbeds and umbrellas laid out in neat lines.
A more informal beach is found below the spectacular Costa
Conero cliffs, a few miles south of Ancona.
Urbino was once Italy’s greatest seat
of learning and is now a pleasant Renaissance hilltown, its skyline
a soaring vista of domes and towers. Also the birthplace of Raphael,
several of his works may be viewed in the art gallery at the Ducal
Palace, along with works by Piero della Francesca
and Titian. Raphael’s childhood home is also
open for viewing. Loreto, said to be the site of the house of the
Virgin Mary, attracts many pilgrims from throughout the world. According
to legend, the house was carrried here from Nazareth by angels,
and is now enclosed in the elaborate Gothic Santuario della
Santa Casa. The Madonna of Loreto was
elected patron saint of airmen in 1920.
The Abruzzo region encompasses the highest parts of the great Apennine
chain. The northern mountains are generally too desolate for agriculture
and most of the land is sparsely populated. The southern uplands
are covered with a great forest of beech, which has been designated
the National Park of Abruzzo. Marsican brown bears which are unique
to Italy, wolves, chamois and eagles may be seen here. L’Aquila,
the principal city, contains an imposing castle, other noteworthy
monuments include the Fontana delle 99 Cannelle,
a fountain with 99 spouts (one for each of the villages that founded
the city) and the pink and white marble Basilica di Santa
Maria di Collemaggio. Pescara is, primarily
a fishing port.
Located in one of the poorest parts of mainland Italy, this area
is mountainous with poor soil and a scattered population. It does,
however, possess its own rugged beauty. The Matese mountain range
is still the haven of wolves and various birds of prey. It also
offers some great skiing resorts and tends not to be too crowded.
The region’s capital, Campobasso, is home
to Castello Monforte and the Romanesque churches
of San Bartolomeo and San Giorgino.