Our journey commences on the enchanting Conero coast. From Ancona we take the panoramic SP1 road in the direction of Montacuto, where to taste a glass or two of the marvellous Conero Docg red wine. Heading onwards, directly towards the sea, after just 4 kilometers, we are greeted by a stunning view of the Mezzavalle Beach. The 20 minute trek down the steep slopes to reach the water's edge is certainly worth the effort, if only to admire the spectacular "Trave" stack which guards the bay.

Another 3 kilometers and we come to the sandy white beach of Portonovo. Surveying this stretch of coast there is the early 19th century Napoleonic fort, and a watch tower, built in 1716 to defend the area from pirate attack. Close by, there are two beautiful houses of worship: the 11th century Romanesque Church of Santa Maria and the 13th century Chapel of Santa Lucia. In just a few minutes we arrive at the fortress of Sirolo, from where to enjoy a breathtaking view of the sea. The much loved beaches of Conero, Due Sorelle, Sassi Neri, San Michele, Numania, and Spiaggiola, are all within easy reach.

Heading inland, we soon approach the town of Loreto, home to the sanctuary which, each year, opens its doors to thousands of pilgrims coming to worship the statue of the Black Madonna. Within the walls of the late renaissance Basilica, the Holy House is conserved: the rustic cottage in which, legend has it, the Virgin received the Annunciation. Next to the basilica there is the Palazzo Apostolico, the noble floor of which is occupied by an Art Museum containing a unique collection of 16th century ceramics, tapestries, and eight magnificent canvases by the great Venetian master Lorenzo Lotto, who passed the last years of his life in Loreto.

A ten minute drive and we arrive in Recanati. Birth town of Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), Recanati is home to numerous sites which bear homage to the great poet and his works: Piazza Sabato del Villaggio, the house which belonged to his beloved Silvia, and Palazzo Leopardi, this latter still inhabited by descendents of the poet. Within the Palazzo one can visit the library used for Leopardi's "mad and desperate study". Then there is the ancient tower mentioned in the "Passero Solitario", "Monte Tabor", and "Infinito". Whilst in Recanati, visitors should take the time for a tour of the Recanati Art Museum which houses numerous works testifying to the presence of Lorenzo Lotto in the area.

From Recanati we proceed to the town known as "the city of the headless". Osimo has acquired this nickname thanks to the 12 acephalous marble statues, which once decorated a Roman forum and can now be admired in the entrance lobby of the town hall. The town's Romanesque cathedral is of certain interest, although the major appeal of Osimo lies in its elegant piazzas and narrow streets lined with magnificent patrician town houses. Only recently opened to the public, the Grotta del Cantinone offers visitors to the town the opportunity to partake in a fascinating tour of the underground city.

Filottrano, with its sumptuous villas and aristocratic palazzi is situated just a few kilometers away from Osimo. Travelling onwards for another 20 minutes or so, we come to Offagna, with its imposing medieval stronghold, from where to admire the most stunning of views. The town of Offagna is home to four museums, all worthy of visit. The Paolucci Mueum of Natural History with more than 15 thousand exhibits, is of particular interest. The Churches of the Santissimo Sacramento and Santa Lucia are fine examples of religious architecture in the Marche.