The rewards in Italy's Le March region include landscapes worthy of Renaissance masters.
A visit to Italy doesn't have to mean standing in line for hours to view a Giotto or a Tintoretto in a museum. With a rental car, and the stomach for curlicue curves, you can breeze through Le Marche, a less traveled region on the Adriatic Coast.
The rewards include landscapes worthy of Renaissance masters. Immaculate hilltop towns. Fried olives, creamy prosciuttos, depraved lasagnas. And outlet shopping.
Some of the most show-offy scenery is in the south, where the Sibylline Mountains rise theatrically behind the green rolling hills.
The Marche is dotted with beautifully preserved hilltop villages. Each one has its draw.
We drove to Sant'Elpidio a Mare to see its shoe museum, and discovered a good restaurant, Il Melograno, with a fine terrace in the back that looks far out to the sea. It's a good place to try the ubiquitous local specialty, olives ascolane (stuffed with meat and cheese, breaded, and deep-fried — why didn't I think of that?) as well as vincisgrassi, a rich regional lasagna made with cream, veal and unmentionable chicken parts.