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Le Marche

As the name suggests le Marche are a border area, and for centuries their territories were fiercely contested. At the end of the Middle Ages this remote region of Italy was incorporated into the Papal States, though local lords and prelates were nominally left in charge. This manoeuvred Le Marche — especially their southern reaches — into an off-piste position in comparison with its more easily accessible neighbours of Tuscany and Umbria. Nonetheless, this land of ‘Sleeping Beauties’ is home to some great art and architecture, ranging from the extraordinarily elaborate pilgrimage site of Loreto, containing a Holy House miraculously transported to the town by angels, to the intensely mystical paintings of Lorenzo Lotto, who was invited to the Marche by the Dominicans. Lotto was in fact just one of a number of major painters from the Veneto who worked in the region at some point during their lives; these include such great names as Giovanni Bellini, Carlo Crivelli and Titian, who were often attracted by the opportunities offered by the region’s numerous small courts. Each hilltop town has its own distinctive atmosphere and beauty, ranging from the steep stony streets of Fermo to the grandeur of many-towered Ascoli Piceno, from the solid bastions of Jesi to the melancholy charm of Recanati, home to Italy’s greatest lyrical poet, Giacomo Leopardi. No-one gazing upon the delicate beauty of these hills crowned by their mediaeval towns and villages can be in any doubt as to the source of the poet’s inspiration.

Your Tour Includes

  • Flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Bologna and return flights from Rome Fiumicino to London Heathrow
  • Private coach transfers and excursions
  • Four nights’ bed and breakfast in the four star Hotel Gallery in Recanati and three nights’ bed and breakfast at the four star Hotel Palazzo dei Mercanti in Ascoli Piceno
  • Four dinners and two lunches
  • Guided visits to monuments and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters
  • Immerse yourself in the Marche region’s rich architecture, history and cuisine
  • Experience a recital of opera arias in the Museo Villa Colloredo Mels in Recanati
  • Visit the Renaissance shrine containing the house of the Virgin Mary in the Basilica delle Santa Casa at Loreto
  • Enjoy a full day excursion across the Monti Sibillini to Norcia, with a stop at the breathtaking village of Castelluccio
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Itinerary

Overview

Morning flight from London Heathrow to Bologna. By coach along the Via Flaminia to Rimini. A walk through the town to visit Tempio Malatestiano by Leon Battista Alberti. Continue to Recanati, our base for four nights.

Overview

Full-day coach excursion to Jesi and Pergola. The former is a town circled by impressive mediaeval walls. The Emperor Frederick II was born in an imperial tent in the central square in 1194. The Civic Art Gallery contains a number of fine works by Lorenzo Lotto, and an extraordinary Rococo Gallery, one of the longest and most splendid of its kind in Italy. After lunch continue to Pergola to admire the monumental Bronzi Dorati da Cartoceto di Pergola. Discovered nearby in 1946 and possibly depicting members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, they are the only surviving gilt-bronze equestrian ensemble to survive from Roman Antiquity. Overnight in Recanati.

Overview

Ancona, capital of the Marche, has been a major port since its foundation by Greek settlers in 387 BC. The Arch of Trajan commands over the harbour, while the Romanesque cathedral devoted to St Cyriacus towers on the hill above. In the Pinacoteca Civica we will study Titian’s enchanting Gozzi Altarpiece of 1520 and a Madonna and Child by Carlo Crivelli. San Francesco alle Scale contains an Assumption by Lorenzo Lotto. Continue to Santa Maria di Portonovo, a beautiful 11th century church on the Conero Riviera, followed by lunch inside a former Napoleonic fortress. Return by coach to Recanati.

Overview

Visit some of the Marche’s charming hill towns, each with its own individual appeal. Monte San Giusto acquired its own Renaissance court under the Bonafede family; the church of Santa Maria della Pietà has a fine Crucifixion by Lotto. In Belforte the church of Sant’Eustachio contains a splendid International Gothic polyptych by Giovanni Boccati. Tolentino’s principal church is dedicated to the local saint, St Nicholas (d.1305). The great chapel of the church contains a cycle of frescoes by the 14th century painter Pietro da Rimini.  Back in Recanati, an evening visit to the Museo Villa Colloredo Mels will conclude with a recital of opera arias in the museum’s beautiful surroundings.

Overview

By coach to Fermo whose Duomo though modernised in the 18th century, reveals Roman and Paleo-Christian elements, including remains of a basilica dating from the 6th century A.D. and mosaics in the apse reminiscent of those in Ravenna. The Museo Diocesano has Thomas Becket’s Cassock, a gift of the saint’s mother to the Church of Fermo in 1116. The Art Gallery in Palazzo dei Priori hosts the paintings by the Venetian Jacobello del Fiore depicting scenes of the life of St. Lucy. After lunch in the mediaeval borgo of Torre di Palme, continue to Ascoli Piceno, principal town in the southern Marche, for the first of three nights.

Overview

Ascoli Piceno once situated on the major trading route between the Adriatic and Rome, has an unspoilt handsome historical centre lined with magnificent, white Travertine-faced buildings. A morning walk across the Roman Ponte di Solestà will lead us to the splendidly austere Romanesque Baptistery, once probably part of a Roman temple, and the Duomo with an altarpiece by the Venetian Carlo Crivelli, who set up shop in Ascoli, where he developed a distinct and most enjoyable decorative Late Gothic style. More works of him are on show in the Pinacoteca Civica. Some free time in Ascoli.

Overview

Full day excursion across the Monti Sibillini to Norcia, the birthplace of Saint Benedict. On the way there we’ll stop for a coffee break at Castelluccio, a tiny village with breath-taking panoramic views over the valley. Castelluccio was badly hit by the earthquake of 2016 and is internationally renowned for its colourful meadows blossoming in spring and summer. Return by coach to Ascoli Piceno for our final dinner in a local restaurant.

Overview

By coach to Spoleto at the foot of the Umbrian Appennines. The Cathedral has outstanding frescoes by Filippo Lippi and Pinturicchio. After lunch continue to Rome Fiumicino airport for an early evening flight back to London Heathrow.

Accommodation

Travel Options

When it comes to getting you to your destination. Leger Holidays make it easy, with a selection of travel options for you to choose from

Meet us at the ship

Meet us at the ship

For complete flexibility, make your own transport arrangements to and from the ship. We will provide you with times and locations as well as some useful information for you to make your own arrangements to join your cruise.

If you require any further information to assist with your travel plans, please contact our Holiday Advisors who will be happy to help.

Meet your Coach at Dover

Meet your Coach at Dover

Travel down to Dover and jump onboard your coach for your ferry crossing.

Alternatively, travel the day before your departure and enjoy an overnight stay, with complimentary parking for the duration of your cruise, before being collected after breakfast the following morning.

Travel by Eurostar

Travel by Eurostar

Step aboard Eurostar at London St Pancras for a fast and comfortable journey to mainland Europe. You can even upgrade your reserved seat to Standard Premier – speak to our Holiday Advisors for more information. On arrival in Paris, Lille or Brussels, you will then join connecting services for your onward journey.

Travel by Air

Travel by Air

Return flights from London Heathrow with transfers to and from the ship are included in our package on our specific arrival and departure dates. We also include one item of checked in luggage per person.

If our included flights are not suitable, alternative flights may also be available from other airports on our arrival and departure dates. These may have an additional supplement and are subject to availability at the time of booking.

More flexible travel options

Travelling by Eurostar?

Travelling by Eurostar?

Why not stay overnight in London?

For those travelling from further afield, you can also book overnight accommodation in London, before and after your holiday. Speak to our Holiday Advisors for more information.

Travelling by Eurostar?

Stay overnight near the port

For an even more relaxed start to your European holiday, why not stay overnight in Dover or nearby Ashford the night before your cruise from only £65pp? All our quoted prices include car parking for one vehicle for the duration of your cruise and cooked breakfast the following morning. Our coach will collect you and return you to the hotel on its way to/from the port of Dover. And if you don’t want that holiday feeling to end, why not do the same on your return journey?