A league table of the most important museums and art galleries in the Marche, giving three stars to the most important places, two for those worth a visit, and one to those places worth seeing if you happen to be nearby.
In general all but the biggest are open only in the morning until 1 or 2pm. Monday is the usual day when they are closed (except Urbino’s Palazzo Ducale which is open 7 days a week). Note that the local museums in smaller towns are apt to have erratic opening times – sometimes you may even have to hunt out the key.
- Urbino – The Palazzo Ducale – the Voyager favourite. World class Italian renaissance art, including two of Piero della Francesca’s finest pictures and a gorgeous portrait by Raphael, in the spectacular setting of the Ducal Palace. The palace also houses a fascinating archeological collection mostly of Roman tablets. Best of all it now boasts extended opening times – 9am to 7pm Tues-Sun, and 9am to 2pm Mondays.
- Raphael’s House, also in Urbino, has been preserved much as it was when he was born here in 1483. But you will only find one work, with a dodgy attribution, that might have been by the young artist – a fresco of the Madonna.
- Jesi – The Pinacoteca Comunale in Palazzo Pianetti. A quirky choice this gallery is housed in a florid rococo palazzo. The outstanding treasures are a handful of pictures by Lorenzo Lotto, the Venetian painter who spent much of his working life in the Marche.
- Fabriano – Museo della Carta. Fabriano is famous for its paper and this specialized modern museum is surprisingly fascinating. You can even see demonstrations of hand-made papermaking.
- Ancona – You will find the best collection of the Marche’s archeological heritage at the Museo Nazionale Archeologico.
- Ancona – Alongside paintings by Crivelli, Titian, Andrea del Sarto and Il Pomarancio, are works by outstanding Marche painters such as Barocci and Guerrieri.
- Ascoli Piceno – A rich collection mainly by painters who lived and worked in this part of the Marche (including Crivelli) but also works of Titian, Tintoretto, Guido Reni and Guercino.
- Recanati – Villa Colloredo-Mels, on the edge of town, houses a handful of Lorenzo Lotto’s finest pictures including a haunting Annunciation.
- Pesaro – the Museo Civico has two delights: a beautiful altarpiece by Bellini and a remarkable collection of painted Renaissance ceramics.
- Also in Pesaro is the house where Rossini was born with a growing collection of memorabilia.
- Loreto – The Museum of the Holy House, as well as plenty on the traditions of Loreto, also has some pictures by Lorenzo Lotto – the artist spent his last years here.
- San Severino – In the Pinacoteca Civica are some sparkling pictures by the Salimbeni brothers, the Marche’s under-appreciated early Renaissance painters.
- Macerata – The Museo del Risorgimento is the best in the region dedicated to the Unification of Italy.
- Fano – The Malatesta Museum and Gallery has some nice surprises for such a small local collection. Great building, as well.
- Fabriano – The town was one of the great centres for the International Gothic style of 14thC painting and the Pinacoteca Comunale has some good examples. None however by the town’s greatest master, Gentile da Fabriano.
- Urbania – A pleasing collection in the museum in the fine old Palazzo Ducale including great examples of the 15thC maiolica ware for which the town was famous.
- Castelfidardo – The Museo Internazionale della Fisarmonica is dedicated to the accordion.
- Mondavio – the waxwork museum in the fortress gives a waxen idea of daily life in medieval times; great for the kids.