Passions & Places


The people of Le Marche
Discover how the generosity of this land and the talents and ingenuity of its people have given the world products famous for their quality

Forget any images you may have of hand-waving, extravagantly emotional Italians - the people of the Marche certainly don't fit the national stereotype. Hard-working, scrupulously honest, reticent and dry-humoured, they often even drive slowly.

From peasant farming….
Although the marchigiani are at the forefront of the Italian economic miracle, their feet are still firmly planted in the earth. Thrift, making the best of what is to hand and a deep sense of craftsmanship in work are all values that have been cultivated through centuries of subsistence farming on often poor land. And even if agriculture now plays second fiddle to manufacturing, the values of the contadino, or tenant farmer, are still deeply ingrained.

…to designer
Perhaps the two aspects of contadino culture that have left the strongest mark on the modern Marche economy are fertile creativity and a strong sense of the family. It is not by chance that many of the region's most famous success stories involve companies that produce some of Italy's best-known designer products yet remain firmly in the hands of the families that founded them. Examples range from the celebrated furniture of Poltrona Frau to the domestic appliances of Merloni, makers of Ariston and other brands.

Small is marchigiano
Another unusual aspect of the Marche economic scene is that much of the region's wealth is still based on the small business rather than the corporate giant; while around a quarter of Italy's shoe production comes from here, most of it is still produced in tiny, craft-based workshops with just a handful of employees. So successful has the Marche "economic model" been that it is often cited as an exemplar of a human-scale, sustainable and profitable industrial system. As well as shoes, clothing, furniture and musical instruments are amongst the most successful businesses. The region also boasts numerous specialist hand craftsmen, including one of the world's finest hand-made pipe makers.

Quality from the land
The general movement away from the land has meant that agriculture now plays a lesser role. But here, too, the marchigiano eye for quality and originality has paid dividends. From being just another mass-market wine, for example, the region's white Verdicchio has been transformed over the past twenty or so years into a classy product with an international following. The Marche can also boast great success with imaginative, high-quality processing of agricultural produce into much sought-after foodstuffs, including some of Italy's best pasta and a range of products based on truffles.

Intelligent tourism
Another central element in the Marche economy that looks set for healthy growth is tourism. Here, too, the marchigiani are aiming for quality rather than quantity and present-day tourism development is being targeted at the discerning, independent traveller rather than the package tourist.


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