Marche is quintessential Italy: sun and sea, snow-capped mountains, hillside fortresses and walled medieval towns. The sheer beauty is spread so thick over the region (3,615 square miles) that there are over 1,000 major monuments, thousands of ancient churches, 500 historic piazzas, 106 castles, 170 towers, not to mention gorgeous rolling hills, imposing mountains and crystal-clear waters. The timeless quality of the Marche landscape, the rustic simplicity, thriving culture, and immense artistic heritage are paralleled by a rich winemaking history. Viticulture goes back to the eighth century when the Etruscans introduced grape growing, using an ancient traditional method known as vite maritata in which each vine would be trained to grow up a tall tree. The region is best known for its whites, especially the native Verdicchio, known through its appellations – Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica. As for reds, the leading grape is Montepulciano, which lends itself to some of the noblest of wines on the Adriatic coast. When crops are kept low, Montepulciano combines great intensity, structure, longevity and elegance with round flavors and aromas of brushwood and fruit. Sangiovese is also well known in this area. There are 17,563 hectares (43,400 acres) under vine, producing over one million hectoliters of wine per year.