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—  Region of Italy  —


Coat of arms
Country Italy
Capital Ancona
 - President Gian Mario Spacca (Democratic Party (Italy))
 - Total 9,694 km2 (3,742.9 sq mi)
Population (2008-09-30)
 - Total 1,565,919
 Density 161.5/km2 (418.4/sq mi)
Citizenship [1]
 - Italian 93%
 - Albanian 1%
 - Romanian 1%
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
GDP/ Nominal € 38.5 billion (2006)

The Marche (Italian: Le Marche, pronounced [leˈmarke]) is one of the 20 Regions of Italy. The Italian name Le Marche is the plural of marca, and literally means "the Marches", originally referring to the medieval March of Ancona and nearby marches of Camerino and Fermo.

The Marche are located in the Central area of the country, bordering Emilia-Romagna and the republic of San Marino to the north, Tuscany to the north-west, Umbria to the west, Abruzzo and Lazio to the south and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Except for river valleys and the often very narrow coastal strip, the land is hilly. In the nineteenth century, a railway from Bologna to Brindisi linked the Marche along the coastline of the entire territory. Inland, the mountainous nature of the region, even today, allows little travel north and south, except by rough roads over the passes.



A view of Monte Conero.

The Marche extend over an area of 9,694 km2 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. Most of the region is mountainous or hilly, the main features being the Apennine chain along the internal boundary and an extensive system of hills descending towards the Adriatic. With the sole exception of Monte Vettore, 2,476 m high, the mountains do not exceed 2,000 m. The hilly area covers two-thirds of the region and is interrupted by wide gullies with numerous - albeit short - rivers and by alluvial plains perpendicular to the principal chain. The parallel mountain chains contain deep river gorges, the best known being those of the Furlo, the Rossa and the Frasassi.

The coastal area is 173 km 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.


The Marche were known in ancient times as the Picenum territory. The coastal area was occupied by the Senones, a tribe of Gauls. It was conquered by the Romans after the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC. The Romans founded numerous colonies in the areas, connecting them to Rome by the Via Flaminia and the Via Salaria. Ascoli was a seat of Italic resistance during the Social War (91–88 BC).

The Renaissance town of Urbino.

After 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.

The Marche 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.

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, the Marche was firmly part of the Papal States except during the Napoleonic period, which saw the short lived Republic of Ancona created in 1797, the merging of the region with the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Italy from 1808 to 1813, and then a short occupation by Joachim Murat. After Napoleon's defeat, the Marche returned to Papal rule until November 4, 1860, when it was annexed to the unified Kingdom of Italy by a plebiscite.


Indesit Headquarters in Fabriano, Province of Ancona. The home appliance sector represents the core of the regional industry.

Up to 30 years ago the Marche was considered a rather poor region, although economically stable in some sectors, thanks particularly to its agricultural output and to the contribution of traditional crafts[2].

Today the contribution of agriculture to the economy of the region has less importance than in the past, and the gross value added generated by this sector is slight, just above the national average. The Marche have never suffered from the extremes of fragmented land ownership or ' latifondo'. Greatly diffused in the past, the sharecropping never produced an extreme land fragmentation. The main products are cereals, vegetables, animal products and grapes. In spite of the marine impoverishment, the sea has always furnished a plentiful supply of fish, the main fishing centres being Ancona, San Benedetto del Tronto, Fano and Civitanova Marche[3].

In the last 30 years the economy of the Marche has been radically transformed, without however repudiating its rural past. Many of the small craft workshops scattered throughout the rural settlements have modernised and become small businesses, some of which have become major brands known all over the world (Indesit, Tod's, Guzzini, Teuco). This evolution led to the emergence of 'specialised' industrial areas, which are still profitable: footwear and leather goods in a large area straddling the provinces of Macerata and Ascoli Piceno; furniture in the Pesaro area in particular; household appliances and textile industry in the province of Ancona, in which the main engineering companies are also to be found (including ship building, petrochemicals and paper, as well as consumer durables). The region continues to draw tourists, whose increasing numbers have been attracted by the rich and broadly distributed heritage of history and monuments, as well as by the traditional seaside resorts[4].


Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1861 909,000
1871 958,000 5.4%
1881 972,000 1.5%
1901 1,089,000 12.0%
1911 1,145,000 5.1%
1921 1,201,000 4.9%
1931 1,240,000 3.2%
1936 1,278,000 3.1%
1951 1,364,000 6.7%
1961 1,347,000 −1.2%
1971 1,360,000 1.0%
1981 1,412,000 3.8%
1991 1,429,000 1.2%
2001 1,471,000 2.9%
2008 (Est.) 1,566,000 6.5%
Source: ISTAT 2001

The population density in the Marche is below the national average. In 2008, it was 161.5 inhabitants per km2, compared to the national figure of 198.8. It is highest in the province of Ancona (244.6 inhabitants per km2), and lowest in the province of Macerata (116.1 inhabitants per km2). Between 1952 and 1967 the population of the region decreased by 1.7% as a result of a negative migration balance, well above the national average, with a rate varying between 4.9 and 10.0 per 1000 inhabitants. In the same period the natural balance of the population was positive, but lower than the national average and insufficient to counterbalance the net emigration. The population continued to decline until 1971, but in 1968 began growing again[5]. In 2008, the Italian national institute of statistics (ISTAT) estimated that 115,299 foreign-born immigrants live in the Marche, 7.4% of total regional population.

Government and politics

The Marche forms, along with Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Umbria, the Italian "Red Quadrilateral", a strongly left-wing area. In the April 2006 elections, the people of the Marche gave 55% of their votes to Romano Prodi.

Administrative divisions

The region is divided into five provinces (the official data for the fifth province (Fermo), instituted in 2009, will be available only with the 2011 census, here its figures are still included in those of the province of Ascoli Piceno):

Province Area (km²) Population Density (inh./km²)
Province of Ancona 1,940 474,630 244.6
Province of Ascoli Piceno 2,087 388,621 186.2
Province of Macerata 2,774 321,973 116.1
Province of Pesaro and Urbino 2,892 380,695 131.6



External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

THE MARCHES (It. Le Marche), a territorial division of Italy, embracing the provinces of Pesaro and Urbino, Ancona, Macerata, and Ascoli Piceno, with an area of 3763 sq. m., and a population of 1,088,763 in 1901. It is bounded by the Emilia on the N., the Adriatic on the E., the Abruzzi on the S., and Umbria and Tuscany on the W. The four provinces follow one another in the order given from north to south and have a certain amount of coast-line. The chief rivers, all of which run into the Adriatic eastwards and north-eastwards, are the Metauro (anc. Metaurus, q.v.) and the Tronto (anc. Truentus), the latter forming the southern boundary of the compartimento for some distance. Except for the river valleys and the often very narrow coast strip, the general level is more than 50o ft. above the sea. The lower hills are very largely composed of loose, clayey, unstable earth, while the Apennines are of limestone. The province of Pesaro and Urbino falls within the boundaries of the ancient Umbria (q.v.), while the territory of the other three belonged to Picenum. The railway from Bologna to Brindisi runs along the coast-line of the entire territory. At Ancona it is joined by the main line from Foligno and Rome; at Porto Civitanova is a branch to Macerata, San Severino and Fabriano (a station on the line from Ancona to Rome and the junction for Urbino); at Porto S. Giorgio is a branch to Fermo and, at Porto d'Ascoli, a branch to Ascoli Piceno. But, with the exception of the railway along the coast, there is no communication north and south, owing to the mountainous nature of the country, except by somewhat devious roads.

Owing largely to the mezzadria or metayer system, under which products are equally divided between the owners and the cultivators of the land, the soil is fairly highly cultivated, though naturally poor in quality. The silk industries, making of strawplait and straw hats, rearing of silkworms and cocoons, with some sugar-refining, tobacco, terra-cotta manufacture, brickworks and ironworks, furnish the chief occupations of the people next after agriculture and pastoral pursuits. Another important branch of activity is the paper industry, especially at Fabriano. Chiaravalle possesses one of the largest tobacco factories of the Italian regie. Limestone quarries and sulphur mines supply building stone and sulphur to the regions of central Italy; chalk and petroleum are also found. As regards maritime trade the province possesses facilities in the port of Ancona (the only really good harbour, where are also important shipbuilding works), the canal ports of Senegallia (Sinigaglia), Pesaro, Fano and other smaller harbours chiefly used by fishing boats. Fishing is carried on by the entire coast population, which furnishes a large contingent of sailors to the Italian navy.

For the early history of the territory of the Marches see Picenum. From the Carolingian period onwards the name Marca begins to appear - first the Marca Fermana for the mountainous part of Picenum, the Marca Camerinese for the district farther north, including a part of Umbria, and the Marca Anconitana for the former Pentapolis. In r080 the Marca Anconitana was given in investiture to Robert Guiscard by Gregory VII., to whom the countess Matilda ceded the Marches of Camerino and of Fermo. In 1105 we find the emperor Henry IV. investing Werner with the whole territory of the three marches under the name of March of Ancona. It was afterwards once more recovered by the Church and governed by papal legates. It became part of the kingdom of Italy in 1860.

The pictorial art of the Marches from the 13th century onwards has become the object of considerable interest since the important exhibition held at Macerata in 1905, when many interesting works, scattered all over the district in small towns and villages, were brought together. The result was something of a revelation, for, though the influence of Umbria was always considerable, there were many independent elements (see F. M. Perkins in Rassegna d'Arte, 1906, 49 sqq.). (T. As.)

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