The relatively unspoilt Marche is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to Tuscany and Umbria for American and British expats and is eager to show the wider world ''the extraordinary beauty and quality of life in our region,'' said regional governor Gian Mario Spacca. Marche (the 'Marches') lies between Romagna to the north and Abruzzo to the south and boasts cultural splendours such as the Renaissance town of Urbino, birthplace of Raphael, hilltown Recanati, birthplace of poet Leopardi, and little-known Ascoli itself, whose central square is among the most beautiful in Italy.
Other attractions include pretty seaside towns like Pesaro, where tenor Luciano Pavarotti had a holiday villa, the lovely Mt Conero promontory and natural wonders such as the snow-capped Sibillini mountains and the spectacular limestone caves of Frasassi. The region is also known for its hearty cuisine and the world-famous Verdicchio wine. As well as Raphael and Leopardi, famous 'marchigiani' include opera greats Gioachino Rossini and Beniamino Gigli, composer Giovanni Pergolesi, education reformer Maria Montessori and motorcycling ace Valentino Rossi. Hoffman's promo pieces will run on ''Italian and international networks,'' the tourist board said.
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