Le Marché, an eastern Italian region, sits between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Ancona, its capital, is a port city on the Riviera del Conero, an area with sandy coves, limestone cliffs and medieval villages. Pesaro is the birthplace of renowned opera composer Rossini. The interior has countryside dotted with fortified hilltop settlements and the glaciated valleys of the Monti Sibillini National Park.
Le Marché extends over an area of 9,694 square kilometres (3,743 sq mi) of the central Adriatic slope between Emilia-Romagna to the north, Tuscany and Umbria to the west, and Lazio and Abruzzo to the south, the entire eastern boundary being formed by the Adriatic. The Umbrian enclave of Monte Ruperto (a subdivision of the Comune of Città di Castello) is entirely surrounded by the Province of Pesaro and Urbino, which constitutes the northern part of the region.
Most of the region is mountainous or hilly: the Apennine range runs longitudinally along the region's eastern border and descends through a hilly landscape towards the Adriatic sea. With the sole exception of Monte Vettore, 2,476 metres (8,123 ft) high, the mountains do not exceed 2,400 metres (7,900 ft). The hilly area covers two-thirds of the region and is intersected by wide gullies with numerous short rivers and by alluvial plains perpendicular to the Appennini range. The main mountain range has a few deep river gorges: the best known are those of the Furlo, the Rossa and the Frasassi.
The coastline is 173 kilometres (107 mi) long and is relatively flat and straight except for the hilly area between Gabicce and Pesaro in the north, and the eastern slopes of Monte Conero near Ancona.
Climate is temperate. Inland, in the mountainous areas, is more continental with cold and often snowy winters; by the sea is more mediterranean. Precipitation varies from 1,000 to 1,500 millimetres (40 to 60 inches) per year inland and 600 to 800 mm (25 to 30 in) per year on the Adriatic coast.
Marche was known in ancient times as the Picenum territory. The Picens or Picentes were the Italic tribe who lived in Picenum during the Iron Age. Many artefacts from their time are exhibited in National Archaeological Museum of the Marche Region in Ancona. In the fourth century BC, the northern area was occupied by the Senones, a tribe of Gauls. The Battle of Sentinum was fought in Marche in 295 BC; afterwards, the Romans founded numerous colonies in the area, connected to Rome by the Via Flaminia and the Via Salaria. Ascoli was a seat of Italic resistance during the Social War (91–87 BC).
Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the region was invaded by the Goths. After the Gothic War, it was part of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna (Ancona, Fano, Pesaro, Rimini, and Senigallia forming the so-called Pentapolis). After the fall of the Exarchate, it was briefly in the possession of the Lombards, but was conquered by Charlemagne in the late eighth century. In the ninth to eleventh centuries, the marches of Camerino, Fermo and Ancona were created, hence the modern name.
Le Marché was nominally part of the Papal States, but most of the territory was under local lords, while the major cities ruled themselves as free communes. In the twelfth century, the commune of Ancona resisted both the imperial authority of Frederick Barbarossa and the Republic of Venice, and was a maritime republic on its own. An attempt to restore Papal suzerainty by Gil de Albornoz in the fourteenth century was short-lived.
The Bombardment of Ancona occurred during the Adriatic campaign of World War I. The Battle of Ancona occurred during the Italian campaign of World War II.
During the Renaissance, the region was fought over by rival aristocratic families, such as the Malatesta of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano and the house of Montefeltro of Urbino. The last independent entity, the Duchy of Urbino, was dissolved in 1631, and from then on, Marche was firmly part of the Papal States except during the Napoleonic period.
This saw the short-lived Republic of Ancona, in 1797–98; the merging of the region with the Roman Republic in 1798–99, and with the Kingdom of Italy from 1808 to 1813; and the short occupation by Joachim Murat in 1815. After Napoleon's defeat, Marche returned to Papal rule until 4 November 1860, when it was annexed to the unified Kingdom of Italy by a plebiscite.
After the referendum of 2006, 7 municipalities of Montefeltro were detached from the Province of Pesaro and Urbino to join the Province of Rimini (Emilia-Romagna) on 15 August 2009. The municipalities are Casteldelci, Maiolo, Novafeltria, Pennabilli, San Leo, Sant'Agata Feltria and Talamello.
Towns in Le Marché were devastated by many powerful earthquakes during the centuries, the last time in 2016 (in August and in October).