Sandwiched between the Apennines and the Adriatic coast, this hilly region boasts a string of exquisite provincial towns. Chief among them is Urbino, whose beautifully preserved centro storico (historic centre) recalls its heyday as a Renaissance cultural centre and birthplace of the artist Raphael. Ascoli Piceno is another highlight, a refined, animated town famous for its fantastic food. Music fans should make a beeline for Macerata, whose hilltop centre rings to the sound of opera each summer.
In the region’s western reaches, and bleeding over into neighbouring Umbria, the wild Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini boasts dramatic mountain scenery and thrilling outdoor pursuits. The area suffered terribly in the 2016 earthquakes, but it's slowly rebuilding and most places are now open for business as usual."