Loreto and Recanati

The hinterland meditative places of the Conero Riviera

The hinterland of the Conero Riviera, towards Macerata, is an area full of gentle hills and green valleys where urban settlements have formed over the centuries, characterized by the presence of suggestive corners of spirituality and contemplation. Among the places that have always had a magnetic attraction for many visitors is the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto. Loreto is a town that developed almost exclusively as a function of the highly celebrated monument - a constant destination for pilgrimages from all over the world -, and is located on a panoramic hill in one of the most fertile areas of the Marche region. Partly surrounded by 16th century walls and bastions, what characterizes this urban center is the Sanctuary, which constitutes one of the most important religious monuments in Italy. Begun in 1468 in Gothic forms, the Sanctuary was continued with Renaissance forms by a group of talented architects, including Martini and Bramante, until the mid-18th century. The late Renaissance façade, built in Istrian stone has three splendid portals; in particular, the middle one is surmounted by a niche with the bronze statue of the Madonna and Child by Girolamo Lombardo. By walking along the median nave inside the Sanctuary you’ll reach the dome, under which is located the Holy House which has an incredible marble-covering designed by Bramante that depicts the glories of the earthly life of the Madonna, announced by the Sibyls and the Prophets. To defend the treasures of the Sanctuary of the Holy House from the incursions of Saracen pirates, in 1485 were built the patrol sheltered walkways. These open an interesting glimpse of the physiognomy of the basilica thanks to its fascinating architectural structure, but also allow us, once we climb the 80 access steps, to enjoy a very wide panorama that goes from Mount Conero to Gran Sasso, ranging over the Adriatic coast to the east, and over the mountains to the west.

Going backwards inland, in an elongated position above a hill on the ridge between the Musone and the Potenza valleys, stands Recanati. It’s a city located overlooking one of the most charming areas of the Marche region, and it’s mainly known for the places linked to the Leopardi tradition. First among everything is the famous Colle dell’Infinito, formerly Monte Tabor, a pleasant park open to the public from where you can admire the vast and enchanting panorama that inspired a very young Leopardi to write the homonymous poem. On that hill there’s a convent where once lived the nuns of the Sacred Heart, but that has now become the headquarters of the "G. Leopardi World Center of Poetry and Culture". Walking along the path that returns to the historic center, you reach the Piazzuola del Sabato del Villaggio, which Casa Leopardi overlooks. Home of the poet and his family, the structure is not particularly majestic, but its simple and elegant lines are realized by the architectural modifications carried out in the first half of the 18th century by the architect Carlo Orazio Leopardi, the poet's great-uncle. The entire first floor, above the old cellars, is occupied by the famous Library, the only part of the building open to the public, since the rest of the building is still the home of the Leopardi family: to access the library, you have to go up a large 18th century staircase, also realized by the architect Carlo Orazio Leopardi. Monaldo set some archaeological finds into the walls, and also placed a marble architrave with an auspicious writing between two columns, the only evidence of the ancient structure of the palace. Another stop of the itinerary is the Torre del Passero Solitario, or the bell tower of the Gothic church of S. Agostino, built together with the convent of the Hermits of S. Agostino around 1270 and rebuilt a century later. Finally, among Leopardi's most fascinating places, there are the famous Piazza Giacomo Leopardi and Torre del Borgo. Located in the center of the town, the layout of the square dates back to the last decades of the 19th century. Facing the large Palazzo Comunale, it’s possible to admire the monument to Giacomo Leopardi, realized by Ugolino Panichi. Both the Palazzo and the monument were inaugurated in 1898 on the occasion of the celebrations of the centenary of the poet's birth. Torre del Borgo stands alone on the left. 36 meters high, this square tower crowned with Ghibelline battlements was built in the second half of the 12th century and belonged to the 15th century Palazzo Comunale, demolished in 1872.

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