Macerata is another medieval hill-top town in Le Marche worth a visit. It’s located between the Potenza and Chienti Valleys, just over an hour from Boutique Hotel Leone. The natural scenery around Macerata is diverse. You can look forward to mountains, valleys, woods and cultivated fields, maintained as if they were gardens or parks running all the way to the shore of the Adriatic. The views are spectacular so make sure you have your camera with you.
Macerata is the capital of its province and it consists of two parts: the old and the new, more modern town. The old town is situated on a hill and the modern spread out on the plain below. You can either enter the old town by a lift from the modern town or by climbing a steep staircase which connects these two parts of Macerata.
The town is known for its Renaissance and Baroque architecture and is home to one of Italy’s oldest universities, founded in 1540 and there’s also a great opera tradition.
Places not to be missed
Piazza della Libertà
Piazza della Libertà is known as the heart of the town. There are many historic, monumental buildings to admire, from Palazzo del Comune to the Church of San Paolo alla Torre dell'Orologio. You will also find Palazzo della Prefettura with a majestic marble portal, the Baroque church of San Paolo that dates back to the mid-seventeenth century and which nowadays hosts art exhibitions, and also the entrance to the ancient university building. Not forgettig the Loggia dei Mercanti, the Renaissance two-tier arcaded merchants’ hall.
To get a great panoramic view that ranges from the Sibillini Mountains to the coast, climb the Civic Tower, 64 metres high and built in the Renaissance.
Just across from the piazza is the Rossi Theatre so be sure to check if anything is playing during your visit.
Once you’re done with exploring the Piazza della Libertá have a stroll along its neighbouring streets - Corso Matteotti and Corso della Repubblica. You will find several palazzos for instance: Palazzo Compagnoni Marefoschi, Palazzo Buonaccorsi and Palazzo Ricci, which is now home to the town's Modern Art Gallery. Near to the Palazzo Buonaccorsi you will also find the popular Basilica della Misericordia which, apparently, was built in one day!
There’s also the Corso della Repubblica where you find most shops and cafes if you need to take a break and enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
This magnificent outdoor arena was built in the 1820s, originally as a stadium for handball. For the last 90-something years it has been used for opera and for the last 35 has been home to the annual open-air Macerata Opera Festival. Today it can accommodate an audience of over 3,000 and the stage is so wide musicians at each end of the pit can’t hear each other. If you’re visiting the last week in July or beginning of August don’t miss out on the world-famous Sferisterio Opera Festival.
Another highlight in Macerata is the cathedral, late eighteenth-century and built in Neo-classical style. The whole interior of the cathedral was designed by Cosimo Morelli and is simply beautiful.
Other places worth a visit are the Museo delle Carrozze, where you can admire the collection of carriages from different ages and places, Villa Potenza and its remains of ancient Helvia Ricina, a Roman settlement destroyed by the Visigoths or the Romanesque church of San Claudio al Chienti.
Macerata is a beautiful town full of history and architecture to enjoy with its combination of charming hill-town scenery and student life, cobblestone streets and honey-coloured palazzi. It's a place you will never forget.