One of Marche's cultural capitals, the city of Macerata spreads over a hilltop in a beautiful spot. Located between the Adriatic Sea and Apennine Mountains, it enjoys a near-perfect setting surrounded by rolling hills covered with olive groves and grape vines, with a plethora of pretty hill towns dotting the countryside.
Founded by the Romans at a lower site near the Potenza River, the city was sacked by the Goths but emerged relatively unscathed by the series of invaders that plagued other regions. It became a free city-state in 1138. The Renaissance period saw the most prosperity and splendor, and there are many palazzi lining the streets to testify to Macerata's glory years. It is a beautiful and lively city, lived-in and enjoyed by its residents, with cultural activities that draw Marchigiani from around the region to participate.
The biggest event is the annual Opera Festival held every July in the neo-classical style arena, a regal open-air amphitheater that seats 7000 spectators for the opulent operas. (Book tickets online in advance.) Piazza della Liberta' is the city's focal point, home to the Gothic cathedral dedicated to San Giuliano. The arcades of the Loggia dei Mercanti are the pride of the city, while the Lauro Rossi theater, which was built in 1774, is an elegant venue for plays and concerts. Palazzo Ricci houses a contemporary art gallery and a natural history museum. The Civic Museum in Piazza Veneto is dedicated to the area, including its role in the Unification and the Resistance movement. The Museo della Carrozza is an unique place with more than 22 carriages and equipment on display. The Basilicata of Santa Maria di Misericordia has a rich marble-clad interior. The high clock tower, Torre Civica, is 64 meters tall and has awesome views. Wander the historic center to see the pretty palaces, especially the Palazzo dei Diamanti, named for the stone diamond-studded facade.
Securing its place as a vibrant, cultural hub, Macerata is home to a university, a music school and an arts academy. Outside the city, you'll want to visit the Roman remains of Helvia Recina at Villa Potenza, which dates to the 2nd century BC, and the pretty Romanesque church of San Claudio, located at the end of a cypress-lined lane, in the hamlet of San Claudio. Around the province you'll find a lot of outlet shops, so be sure to pick up a map if you want to do some shopping. You can pre-plan your shopping strategy on this website, if you want to find the outlet stores in Le Marche before your trip.
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