Le Marche holiday in Italy: 10 reasons to take the family
We spent a fantastic week in the region of Le Marche, Italy with our children this summer, staying in a villa in the countryside not far from the beach resort of Grottammare. I love Le Marche, it is such a stunning region of huge contrasts from dramatic mountain scenery to rolling farmland and mile upon mile of sandy coastline. So, why take a Le Marche holiday in Italy with your family? Let me tell you…
The beaches of Le Marche, Italy
The Adriatic coast has miles of sandy beaches. The water is calm, clean, warm and shallow making it perfect for toddlers. Resorts such as Grottamare and San Benedetto del Tronto are ideal destinations if you’re travelling with small children; there are sunbeds and umbrellas for hire and toilets, ice cream, pizza and coffee are all readily available in the countless bars and restaurants which line the seafront.
Families with older children will enjoy the beaches of the Parco del Conero in the north of the region where the coastline is more rugged and many of the beaches are accessible only by boat or on foot.
The mountains of Le Marche, Italy
Whether you fancy a gentle ramble or a proper hike, the Sibillini Mountains National Park has something for all abilities, there’s even snow if you fancy visiting Le Marche for a spot of skiing come wintertime. The meadows are carpeted with wild flowers in late spring and early summer (May half term is perfect), an ideal time for families to visit before the summer sun becomes a barrier to serious hikes. If you’re interested in a mountain retreat, Tenuta le Piane is a lovely collection of apartments including 3-bedroomed Ciliegio. Located close to Amandola, the apartments share a pool, bikes and plenty of green space.
Accommodation in Le Marche Italy
In Le Marche you can have the best of both worlds. Make the most of the stunning rural scenery by staying in a self-contained villa or in an apartment at an agriturismo (where there’s often a shared swimming pool) but still be within day trip distance of the coast. If you prefer to stay at a beach resort, there are plenty of hotels, apartments and campsites right on the coast which offer pretty good value for money. The campsite in the image below is Camping Village Internazionale which looked really tempting when I saw it several years ago.
The cuisine in Le Marche, Italy
Obviously this is Italy where pizza, pasta and ice cream are the staples of any holiday with kids. As with all Italian regions, Le Marche has its local specialities: you’ll find plenty of meat, particularly pork; lentils; truffles; fish stews and also the famed (in Italy anyway) stuffed fried olives of Ascoli Piceno. There are plenty of vineyards in Le Marche, I particularly enjoyed the mineral flavours of the pecorino white wines.
Child-friendly towns to explore
There is a multitude of charming towns to explore in Le Marche and they are all manageable size-wise for sightseeing with small children.
Narrow medieval streets perfect for little explorers and car-free piazzas for energetic toddlers abound in Le Marche. For older children, you’ll find agreeable levels of nightlife to expose your teens to and maybe you can all enjoy a civilised passeggiata with other families along the seafronts.
Festivals in Le Marche
There are more food and cultural festivals than you could possibly fit into a lifetime in Le Marche, let alone a summer holiday. There is jousting in Ascoli Piceno, open air opera at Macerata, jazz by the sea in Fano. And then there are the “sagre”, pretty much every town or village in Le Marche has a gastronomic celebration of something during the summer months so you’re bound to be able join in somewhere; Sassoferato celebrates wild boar; Corinaldo celebrates polenta; Fermo celebrates shellfish and come harvest time (if you can escape in the autumn with pre-school kids) everyone celebrates wine. Expect to eat and drink a lot.
Getting to Le Marche
Apart from the region’s own airport, Ancona, (currently only accessible by bad-guy Ryanair from Stansted), you can also reach Le Marche from Rome in three very scenic hours through the mountains on good roads which flew by for our kids. You can combine Le Marche with a quick break in or near Rome (as we did) or indeed other cities such as Pisa, Florence or Bologna, all of which are three or four hours’ drive away. One of my favourite drives in Italy is through the Sibillini Mountains from Norcia in Umbria to Ascoli Piceno. Le Marche also works really well when combined with a road trip through Tuscany and Umbria.
Low key tourism
Le Marche is where a lot of Italians take their holidays. If you’re a bit of a travel snob and don’t like hearing an English accent in your holiday destination, this is the place to come. By being off the tourist radar this also means lower prices and a more authentic experience.
Aside from the obvious attractions of the sea, there are lakes and rivers for kayaking, rafting or wild swimming; caves to explore; mountains to walk or bike down (or up) and adventure play parks and water parks to expend energy in.
History, art and architecture
If you enjoy big-hitters like Florence and Siena, try Urbino: a hilltop beauty in the north of the region packed with Renaissance art and architecture but overlooked by most tourists.
In the south is Ascoli Piceno with its delightful Piazza del Popolo where a long and lazy lunch is essential if you want to fully appreciate its elegant palazzos and the town’s cathedral.
As with all Italian regions, you’ll find castles to explore, bell towers to climb and other architectural wonders which allow you to slip a bit of culture into your unsuspecting offspring.
When is the best time of year to visit Le Marche?
Due to its varied landscape of mountains, hills and sea, Le Marche works really well for a summer holiday. It’s hot on the coast but if you stay up in the hills in a villa or an agriturismo, the heat will be less intense. If you’re travelling with pre-schoolers, June and September are perfect: the weather hasn’t hit its peak temperature but it’s still lovely and warm for days at the beach or by the pool. Sightseeing is far easier during these months.
Spring can be very cool and sometimes quite wet, due to the mountains. It’s a good time to visit Le Marche if your priority is sightseeing and culture. Autumn is great for food festivals: harvests of olives and other produce are taken very seriously with celebrations in many of the villages. These festas also take place throughout the summer months too.
Winter sees heavy snow on the hills and mountains so this is a good time to have a romantic holiday in Le Marche: cosy hotels with log fires, hot chocolate and early evening passeggiatas through the streets of Urbino or Ascoli Piceno. There are ski slopes in Le Marche if you fancy a really off the beaten track ski holiday.
Accommodation ideas in Le Marche
From many years working in the travel industry, with a focus on Italy, I have come across some lovely holiday properties. Here are a few of my suggestions (some of these may be affiliate links which, if clicked on and booked, will provide me with a small commission at no cost to you, this helps with the running of this site):
Villa Cicchi near Ascoli Piceno
This is a small charming and characterful hotel just outside Ascoli Piceno. Expect delicious food and wine, informal service and a lovely pool to relax by after a day of sightseeing. I stayed here pre-kids, I’d probably wait until my children are a bit older before returning as it has quite an intimate vibe.
Villa Ulissi near Montedinove
We spent a wonderful week in this villa with some friends. It has incredible views of the hills and mountains but it’s close enough to the coast for days at the beach. I highly recommend this property!
Camping Village Internazionale near Sirolo
I’ll admit that I’ve only seen this campsite from a distance but it is in such a brilliant position close to so many great beaches in the northern part of Le Marche that I am confident it would be a great option.
Tenuta le Piane, near Amandola
This is a collection of proper rustic apartments hidden away from the modern world. It is incredibly peaceful at Tenuta le Piane: there are no busy roads near by, just mountains and meadows. The accommodation is traditional: don’t expect anything luxurious as it is a very authentic place to stay. Children love it: there’s a pool and bikes to borrow and lots of space to run around including plenty of shady areas.
Hotel Emilia, near Ancona
If you’re after something a bit different and you have a bit of money to spend, the Emilia is an art hotel on a clifftop with incredible views of the turquoise Portonovo Bay below. It’s family friendly too and there’s a big swimming pool.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, it is at no additional cost to you, although I receive a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog.