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Further Afield

Ancona

Ancona is the vibrant administrative capital of Le Marche and a working sea port. Badly bombed in World War II, the city was severely damaged once again by an earthquake in 1972. Ancona offers a pleasing variety of medieval, Byzantine and Venetian-Gothic architecture. Its opera house with its neo-classical facade and redesigned interior has a capacity for over 1000 people.

Ancona is mostly known as a modern port, not a tourist town, but it also has an appealing historic town on a hill. From the 11th-century duomo you can enjoy a wonderful sea view. The art gallery (Pinacoteca Communale), situated in a historic palazzo, contains works by artists including Titian. Ancona is also the home of the region's archaeological museum, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche, with exhibits including impressive Roman bronze statues.

From the summit of Colle Guasco you have before you breath-taking views of the Adriatic while behind you stands the city's most obvious landmark, the striking Cathedrale San Ciriaco.

Urbino

Urbino remains one of the most important towns in Italy. Its centro storico is a UNESCO World Heritage site. To get the best first impression, approach the town from the Arezzo direction. The fairy-tale twin towers of the Palazzo Ducale give Urbino its unmistakable skyline. The heart of the town is the animated Piazza della Repubblica, and in the Palazzo you will find one of the most important collections of Renaissance paintings in the world.

Raffaello Sanzio (more popularly known as Raphael) is Urbino's most famous son. The house where he was born is now a delightful little museum in the Via Raffaello which runs up from the Piazza della Repubblica. With Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Raphael (a painter and architect of the High Renaissance) forms the traditional trinity of great Masters of that period.

This is a recommended day out from Casa Tranquilla and can be easily combined with a visit to the Frasassi show caves.

Macerata

Macerata is the provincial capital of Le Marche and is well known across the world for its annual open-air music festival. This takes place in late July/early August in the 7,000-seater Sferisterio, a neo-classical arena, originally constructed for Pallone, or Italian football. Within easy distance of Casa Tranquilla, the centre of Macerata, built between the C16th and C19th, boasts the Renaissance style two-tiered arcades of the Loggia dei Mercanti on the Piazza della Liberta.

If your interest lies in more modern history, you will find, in the civic gallery, one of Italy's best museums dedicated to the Unification of Italy and wartime resistance.

Ascoli Piceno

Ascoli Piceno is Le Marche's major centre in the south of the region, most famous for its square, the traffic-free travertine-paved Piazza del Popolo. Although a large town, the historic centre is easily visited on foot. There are also great riverside walks, attractive shops, art galleries and welcoming, lively cafes and bars.

On the first Sunday in August, La Quintana, Ascoli's jousting tournament takes place. This is one of the most authentic and exciting shows of its kind in Italy. On the same day, the townspeople, all dressed in C15th costume, form a massive procession through the town in celebration of Sant Emidio, the protector of the town.

This is another recommended day out from Casa Tranquilla.

Fano

This coastal resort with a history dating back over 2000 years is full of fascinating historical architecture. If you wish you can join organised city tours of the Roman, Renaissance and Baroque remains or simply discover the several museums and art galleries at your leisure. Fano has a particularly elegant 'passeggiata', the characteristic Italian stroll in the early evening along the main street flanked by enticing shops which stay open late into the evening.

For jazz fans the un-missable Jazz by the Sea festival is held here every year in the last week of July. On the second Sunday of each month and the preceding Saturday, Fano plays host to antiques experts exhibiting furniture and furnishings, lace, and religious and secular objects. In a city so rich in history and tradition, this antiques fair and market is a 'must'. Additional events have been added over the years including concerts and exhibitions, and most importantly the national annual Antique Book and Print exhibition and market in July. This has become one of the best-known events at national level. www.turismofano.com

Cingoli

Cingoli is yet another medieval walled town. Built on a hill like so many others in the region, it has been given the title 'Balcony of Le Marche' for its sweeping views across the countryside. A visit to the hushed Via del Podesta (just behind the Town Hall), Cingoli's most atmospheric street is most enjoyable.

Apiro

In Apiro (near Cingoli), the delightful festival of pecorino cheese (Sagra del Formaggio) is held annually at the end of June, and in mid-June at Pianello (near Cagli) there is the Sagra della Lumaca festival of snails to whet your appetite.