THE HOLY HOUSE – The town of Loreto developed around the famous Basilica that contains the “Santa Casa” (the Holy House of Nazareth) where, according to tradition, the Virgin Mary was born, lived and received the announcement of the miraculous birth of Jesus. According to the legend, when in 1291 the Muslims finally expelled the Christians from Jerusalem and then tried to regain Nazareth, a group of angels took care of the House and, after some wanderings in Croatia and other towns in Le Marche, they took it to Loreto. For this reason, the Madonna of Loreto is venerated as the patroness of aviators. Studies highlight that the origin of the House is Palestine in view of both the architectural style and the use of construction materials, unknown to the Marche territory and instead widely used in the Holy Land at the time. Historians assert, based on the discovery of documents written after 1294, that the transfer was accomplished by the Angeli Comneno princes, a branch of the imperial family of Constantinople, who carried the stones by ship. It is widely accepted that the House left Nazareth in 1291, passed through Dalmatia, remaining for about three years in Trsat (now a district of the town of Rijeka in Croatia), then briefly remained in Ancona and Porto Recanati, and finally arrived in Loreto on the night of 9th December 1294.
In 1469, on the initiative of the bishop of Recanati, Nicolò delle Aste and later with Pope Paul II, the first construction of the present basilica began, first with Gothic and later Renaissance forms. In 1586, Pope Sixtus V appointed Loreto to the diocese and the bronze statue designed by Antonio Calcagni and Tiburzio Vergelli, that is placed in all its majesty next to the entrance of the Basilica, was dedicated to him. The octagonal dome was the work of Giuliano da Sangallo and was built in the years 1499-1500. The statue of the Virgin Mary, made of embossed and gilded copper, is on the top of the dome’s lantern. Next to the white Istria stone facade, completed in 1587, stands the elegant bell tower (1750-55) by Luigi Vanvitelli. The shrine of the Holy House is positioned under the dome, faced with marble and with statues and reliefs, a masterpiece of 16th century sculpture. The highly evocative interior is a destination for pilgrims who come from all over the world to pray before the statue of the Black Madonna. The Chapel of the Annunciation was decorated with frescoes by Federico Zuccari, the sacristies of San Marco and San Giovanni by Melozzo da Forlì and Luca Signorelli, the ceiling and the roof of the Sala del Tesoro by Pomarancio. The Museum and Picture Gallery of the Holy House of Loreto, housed in the Apostolic Palace, preserves paintings, sculptures, tapestries and majolicas from the Sanctuary and donated to the Holy House in the course of the centuries. The later works by Lorenzo Lotto, who died in Loreto in around 1556, stand out in the collection of paintings. The Holy House Treasure includes valuable works of very refined jewellery. CONERO 14Km – If you want to experience the natural beauty of Le Marche, the Conero national park is only a few kilometres away. It is the only protrusion (572 meters) overlooking the sea from Trieste to Gargano. On its slopes flourish the important port of Ancona, overlooked by the stunning San Ciriaco Cathedral, as well as the the tourist seaside resorts Numana and Sirolo. Founded in 1987, the national park is an environmental oasis covering 5800 hectares. Several paths wind among Mediterranean brooms, live oaks and pine trees. The many plants are here protected and represent one-third of the whole floral heritage in the Region Le Marche. It is also a great spot for bird watching. Mount Conero creates the perfect scenery for the beautiful nearby beaches Spiaggiola, Urbani, San Michele, Sassi Neri, Mezzavalle and Portonovo.
CONERO (14Km) – If you want to experience the natural beauty of Le Marche, the Conero national park is only a few kilometres away. It is the only protrusion (572 meters) overlooking the sea from Trieste to Gargano. On its slopes flourish the important port of Ancona, overlooked by the stunning San Ciriaco Cathedral, as well as the the tourist seaside resorts Numana and Sirolo. Founded in 1987, the national park is an environmental oasis covering 5800 hectares. Several paths wind among Mediterranean brooms, live oaks and pine trees. The many plants are here protected and represent one-third of the whole floral heritage in the Region Le Marche. It is also a great spot for bird watching. Mount Conero creates the perfect scenery for the beautiful nearby beaches Spiaggiola, Urbani, San Michele, Sassi Neri, Mezzavalle and Portonovo.
RECANATI (7km) – Birthplace of poet and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi as well as opera singer Beniamino Gigli, the city maintains the original medieval urban structure. Must see places are Leopardi house and library, the “Sabato del Villaggio” square and Silvia’s house, the hill of “L’Infinito”, the Museum Gigli, the Diocesan Museum, and the Villa Colloredo Mels, home of the Civic Art Gallery, which boasts a prestigious collection of paintings by Lorenzo Lotto, including the famous “Annunciation”.
SIBILLINI MOUNTAINS (75Km) – Established in 1993, the National Park of Sibillini Mountains covers an area of over 70,000 hectares of protected land. The great limestone massif includes one of the highest peaks on the Italian mainland – Mount Vettore at 2,476 metres – as well as Mount Bove, Mount San Vicino, Mount Rotondo, lake Fiastra, Macereto abbey and the wonderful plains of Castelluccio. The towns included in the park are: Visso, Ussita, Bolognola, Fiastra, Montefortino, Montegallo, Montemonaco, and San Ginesio. Various paths start from these towns. We work in partnership with professional guides who organise daily excursions: hiking, trekking, nordic walking, cyclotourism, mountain bike, snow hiking, skying, rivering, outdoor yoga, as well as sunset walks on Mount Conero and Recanati’s hills.
GENGA: FRASASSI CAVES (75Km): In the heart of the Marche region, about 40 minutes drive from Ancona, in the Regional Natural of Gola della Rossa and Frasassi, are the spectacular Frasassi caves, the largest karst complex in Europe which began to form about 1.400.000 millions of years ago. Some 13 km of limestone caverns have so far been explored and it is reckoned that they may run for up to 35 km. Only one and a half km of this crystalline wonderland is open to the general public. Equipped with walkways and theatrical lighting, it includes inlaid stalactites, gigantic stalagmites and the awesome Grotta Grande del Vento, Europe’s largest single cavern, so vast that Milan Cathedral would fit comfortably inside. The guided tour lasts for around an hour; the temperature inside is a constantly low 14 degrees C. The caves were discovered in 1971 by the Cai Speleological Group of Ancona and open to the public in 1974.
URBINO (119km) – Urbino remains one of the most important towns in Italy for tourists in search of great Italian art and architecture. The patriarch of the Montefeltro family, Duca Federico da Montefeltro, created the trendiest art scene of the 15th century here, gathering the great artists, architects and scholars of his days to create a sort of think tank. Must see places are the Palazzo Ducale, a splendid late XV century residence that gives Urbino its unmistakable fairy-tale skyline, but also the Cathedral, several important Museums and the House of Raphael, one of the greatest master painters of the Italian Renaissance.
PORTO RECANATI (4Km) – Traditional fishing-village, Porto Recanati turned to tourism with its long beaches with a pedestrian seafront completely closed to traffic. The town centre is dominated by the Castle built by Frederick II of Swabia and it also contains the remains of the Roman town of Potentia. Porto Recanati is the closest seaside town and can be easily reached from Loreto.