Unless you’re a huge track and field fan, most foreign tourists in the Marche region’s Ancona will never see its famous indoor track, the Palaindoor.

But for Italy’s track and field athletes, their coaches and their parents, this is the mecca during the months of January – March.

It’s the closest major indoor track for all of central and southern Italy, and I drove my son here recently for his first Ancona competition (this time for high jump, in which he did well, but, unfortunately, didn’t beat his personal best).

Traveloholic that I am, I was excited to use this competition as an excuse to explore the medieval hilltowns of the Marches I have yet to visit.

Sadly, shifting schedules, cheering on teammates, and driving rain all conspired to keep us primarily in the interior of this impressive indoor track.

It was all track and field all-the-time with competitions not only in high jump, but also 60 m, 200 m, 400m, 800 m, 1500 m, long jump, triple jump and pole vault. Except for pole vault, which he hasn’t learned yet, my son loves and is competitive in all these disciplines, so he was enviously watching the competitions and dreaming of coming back to take part next time.

The day’s competitions went from kids up to adults, and included a 60 m race for Italy’s most famous contemporary-sprinter, its first sub-10-second 100 m sprinter, Filippo Tortu.

So a weekend spent in this impressive indoor track was still fun, but next time I look forward to exploring those amazing medieval hill towns I saw dotting the landscape from the highway.

Looking back to returning and exploring the Marche beyond Ancona’s Palaindoor…