The history of Le Marche is of course, part and parcel of the history of Italy. And Italy has had what might loosely be called a turbulant history. We’ve been invaded by Gauls, Huns, Greeks and Goths. Then the Germans and the French followed by the Spanish and the French again. It’s a wonder we still have a language we can call our own. Before the Roman Empire spread into Le Marche it was known as Picenum and inhabited by the tribe of Piceni who lived on the Adriatic coast, and the Umbri who lived in the mountains, later spreading into the neighbouring region now known as Umbria.
And then of course, there were the Etruscans, although they lived predominantly on the west side of Italy. They were a people of ancient Italy prior to the Romans with their own language and culture, a civilization that survived from prehistoric time until its complete absorbtion into the Roman Republic. The city of Rome was in Etruscan territory and there is considerable evidence that early Rome was dominated by Etruscans. But gradually the new Republic of Rome began to make its presence felt and when they took the city of Veio in 396 BC, it was the beginning of the end for the Etruscans.
The construction of great highways like the Via Flaminia and the Via Salaria consolidated Roman dominance of Italy. Under Emperor Augustus, Le Marche was divided in two. The northern stretches formed part of Roman Umbria, while the south remained as Picenum. For almost a thousand years, the Roman Empire ruled great swathes of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and Le Marche was a land of relative peace and plenty.
Then the Goths decided to come calling.
After the fall of Rome, the Le Marche too was invaded by the Goths and, after the Gothic War, became part of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna with Ancona, Fano, Pesaro, Rimini and Senigallia forming the so-called Pentapolis. After that, it was briefly in the possession of the Lombards, but was then conquered by Charlemagne in the late eighth century. In the ninth to eleventh centuries the marches of Camerino, Fermo and Ancona were created which is where we got our name. The Marches were nominally part of the Papal States, but most of the territory was ruled by local lords while the major cities ruled themselves as free communes.