Macerata is only a short drive away from Urbino. In charm and beauty it measures up to the popular hilltowns in Tuscany and Umbria. And there’s a hiking paradise and a popular seaside round the corner in Sibillini Mountains and Senigallia. Yet there are virtually no foreign tourists in this provincial capital. So even if Macerata is a bustling city with a population 43.000 it still qualifies as undiscovered Marche.
The medieval city is contained within well-preserved city walls, where steep inclines combined with narrow, cobblestoned alleys keep most motorized traffic out. This means you can stroll around the centre without constantly watching your back.
One of the nice places to linger is Piazza della Libertà. This is the city centre with the town hall and the Torre Civica with bells that marks worldly events in contrast to church towers. In Medieval times civic clock towers were also used to display the wealth of the citizens and the municipal government, so they are generally quite good looking.
Apart from the clock tower the buildings surrounding the square may seem a bit anonymous, but don’t be deceived by exteriors. The recently renovated theatre Lauro Rossi is magnificent. And if you enter the courtyard of the Palazzo del Comune you’ll see archeological remains from a Roman town named Helvia Ricina, which was destroyed by the Goths.
As a town Macerata is also extremely fond of modern, thought provoking sculptures like the tortoise carrying a world upon its shield or being shielded from the world. Everything is open for interpretation.
Finally, there’s the Renaissance gem Loggia dei Mercanti stucked away in a corner. This fine 16th century building consists of two floors with an open gallery made up of rounded arches on columns and completed by a pillar at the corner. It was designed by Giuliano da Maiano, who also left a strong mark on Florence.
When you have finished looking for the inscription dedicated to Pope Paul III, who lived in this house in Macerata as a Papal Legate before he became Pope, you might continue down Corso Giacomo Matteotti for some contemporary window shopping. A step from past to present I always find extremely enjoyable.
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