Welcome to a high-calorie gastronomic tour through Le Marche's typical dishes and enchanting landscapes.
A Gastronomic itinerary on the trail of Le Marche's typical dishes that will make you fall in love once again with a region that inspires beauty.
Land of sea, woods and hills, art and poetry. A place beautifully designed by breathtaking nature and fairytale villages crystallised in a past that seems as close as a turn of the clock. Le Marche is a postcard-perfect spot to discover slowly and with a full stomach. And if it's true that food is culture, then there is no better way to fully know a country than by having a finger in the pie. Or by eating the pie.
To best escort you on your next trip, we have prepared this gourmand's vademecum to save and click on when hunger starts to set in. And we can assure you that the urge to grab a bite will be irresistible when fabulous croquettes, dishes with seemingly unusual combinations and desserts you might not expect are there to tempt you. Bon appétit.
Le Marche's typical dishes: a gastronomic tour from street food to dessert
Le Marche cuisine is made up of dishes that mix freshness and ancient flavours. It's like a wide recipe book encompassing all the infinite nuances of taste you encounter while travelling through the coastline and around its sweet hills. With some constants.
Wild fennel, for example, is a common denominator in preparations that are, in some ways, unusual. It's the protagonist in a tasty rabbit dish and in the characteristic fava or sea snails 'in porchetta'.
Some preparations are so tied to the places they are associated with that partly trace their identity. That's the case of stockfish 'all'anconetana', a great classic that even has its own academy (L'Accademia dello Stoccafisso all'anconitana).
In any case, loads of local products excel in various areas of taste, like the early violet artichoke of Jesi, the broad beans of Ostra, the pink apples of Amandola, the white truffle of Acqualagna, the extra virgin olive oil of Cartoceto Dop, the fossa cheese of Talamello, the Carpegan Dop ham. But the list is long.
It's clear that the sun never sets on Le Marche's culinary empire. From street food to desserts, there is plenty to fill the stomach.
Delicacies such as calcioni are so versatile that they are perfect as appetiser or pastries. Baked or fried, these stuffed half moons are an indispensable meal breaker.
Marche dessert concept often involves a happily open relationship with the region's distinctive liqueurs. The vermilion red of alkermes is coloured by cavallucci, scroccafusi, sweet peaches from Acquaviva Picena, ciaramille and castagnole. The hint of anise of minstà, Marche's version of Greek ouzo, perfumes Macerata's anicetti and Offida's funghetti.
What else do you need to know? Well, here are some must-tries delicacies and wines to sip with an eye on the panorama.
Le Marches's typical dishes: olives all'ascolana
Tenera Ascolana Dop is the quality of olives that the tradition dictates in the careful and patient preparation of her majesty oliva all'ascolana. From Ascoli with love, the undisputed queen of Le Marche's street food is the most iconic regional dish.
The original recipe calls for a minced veal, chicken and pork filling combined with eggs, Parmigiano, nutmeg and a little lemon peel. Breaded, fried and eaten piping hot, they are the perfect entrée to approach the Marchigiana cuisine.
From Pesaro to Ascoli Piceno looking for the perfect crescia
Not a focaccia nor a piadina. Moving from one city to another, you'll find this typical Marche sandwich in different variations. In Pesaro, it's called 'vonta', greased with pork lard and served hot with a filling of sausage and cheese.
In Urbino, it's known as 'crostolo'; in Ancona, you find it made with bread dough; it's called 'cresciola' and made of polenta in Jesi and Osimo; the one in the province of Macerata is similar to the Tuscan 'schiacciata'; in Ascoli Piceno, crescia is tall and stuffed. The challenge? Try (not) to eat them all.
Where to taste ciarimboli
The true rarity of street food made in Le Marche is a delicacy for intrepid stomachs and adventurous spirits. Ciarimboli, also known as 'ciarrimmoli', 'ciambudei' or 'cinciabusucchi', are not for everyone and cannot be found everywhere. To taste them, you must head for inland villages like Cupramontana, Montecarotto and Serra San Quirico, where they are still prepared and mainly served during fairs and festivals.
Ciarimboli consists of smoked and roasted pieces of pork intestine to eat in a sandwich. Meat is washed in hot wine and then immersed in boiling water before being flavoured with garlic, rosemary and fennel for some days—a once-a-lifetime experience.
Not an ordinary porchetta
Not the classic porchetta. Just a stone's throw from the Adriatic, Le Marche countryside opens into green and gentle landscapes to discover during a stress-free Sunday trip.
What better occasion to try one of the most typical dishes of the hinterland, where rabbit in porchetta is the unusual protagonist of the festive table? Just like its pork-based counterpart, this 'lean' version takes the form of a roll of meat seasoned with wild fennel and stuffed with liver and bacon.
Fantastic types of pasta and where to find them
In Campofilone, for example. This pretty village not far from Fermo is famous for its long, thin Igp egg pasta, maccheroncini. The perfect match is with Marchigiano ragù, prepared with beef, pork and chicken giblets.
In Urbino, try lumachelle, an old format from the Renaissance. According to lore, young noblewomen about to become nuns used to prepare them.
In Montefeltro, tacconi are similar in shape to the more famous tagliatelle, while torcelli, foglietti and stroncatelli were conceived in the Ancona Jewish community.
Vincisgrassi is the most famous pasta in the Marche region. It's very similar to the classic lasagna and, just like lasagna, makes its appearance on the table during feast days. Among its various interpretations, Macerata has it with meat sauce, chicken giblets and béchamel sauce.
Poor and delicious: find more about frascarelli
A recipe from the culinary tradition of the Marche region, frascarelli originated as a poor man's dish. Although initially prepared with simple white flour polenta, today it's often found with rice, hence the other names by which it is known: riso in polenta or riso corco. The final consistency is almost creamy and somehow reminiscent of porridge. Frascarelli is often served with gravy, sausage, ciauscolo, pecorino or vegetables.
Better in Fano or Ancona? Brodetto marchigiano and its infinite versions
The fish soup typical of the Adriatic area has such variations and interpretations to make you lose count of the number of recipes and related preparations taking turns from province to province.
Brodetto in Porto Recanati is without tomatoes but with pistils of wild saffron from the Conero that give it a distinct yellowish colour. It's a must to taste between a dive with a view of Monte Conero and a visit to the Svevo Castle. Even better if during Brodetto Week in June.
In San Benedetto del Tronto, it's prepared with onions, vinegar, peppers and green tomatoes and has a more robust and acidic flavour.
Only local fish from the Porto San Giorgio, Civitanova Marche and San Benedetto del Tronto Maritime Compartments is used in Porto San Giorgio's soup.
In Fano, brodetto is revered by a confraternity that attests to its strict adherence to the Fano tradition. There is also a festival with cooking shows, performances and tastings (BrodettoFest).
The Ancona variant features thirteen types of fish. The number is no coincidence: some say it recalls the Last Supper, and others the Calamo fountain and its masks. Legends in a dish.
A journey sipping wine in Le Marche
Some of the most sought-after wine routes of Bacchus' fan base pass through Le Marche. After all, Marche wines stand out in the rich Italian wine scene. A self-respecting wine and food itinerary must necessarily cross wineries and cellars well stocked with the rich local offer.
The Macerata area boasts an exciting wine production that includes bottles of San Ginesio DOC (the municipalities involved are San Ginesio, Caldarola, Camporotondo di Fiastrone, Cessapalombo, Ripe San Ginesio, Gualdo, Colmurano, Sant'Angelo in Pontano, Loro Piceno), Bianco dei Colli Maceratesi DOC and Spumante Vernaccia di Serrapetrona DOCG.
In Ascoli, toasts are with Rosso Piceno Superiore, Falerio dei Colli Ascolani, Passerina and Pecorino.
Near the border with Emilia Romagna, between Pesaro and Urbino, are three DOC wines from Le Marche: Bianchello del Metauro, Pergola and Colli Pesaresi.
Fermo and its province delight with the local Offida, Falerio and Rosso Piceno.
Castelli di Jesi and Matelica areas offer different versions of the most widespread grape variety in the Marche, Verdicchio.