January is the month I feel the need to hibernate. Christmas and New Year are over and the decorations are packed away for next year. Some people plan a detox, diet, cleanse and clean. Others choose to join a gym, take up a new sport and make promises difficult to keep. I would quite happily dive under the duvet and not resurface for a month. What a luxury, to allow mind and body a few weeks off.
Back to reality, and if I can’t hibernate I want to offer my body some healthy nourishment during the colder months.
The light dusting of snow last week is fading, exposing the countryside once again. The logs are stacked up outside and fireplaces are lit each evening. Seasonal vegetables include pumpkins, potatoes, onions, carrots and cavolo nero, a dark green type of cabbage. The hunting season continues, sadly for us vegetarians, providing pigeon, wild boar, pheasant and guinea fowl.
Zuppa di Ceci – Chickpea soup Serves 6-8
Here we share one of our favourite winter warming recipes….
500g (1lb 2oz) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water
2 ripe tomatoes, skinned and pureed or 150g (5.5oz) tin of peeled tomatoes, pureed.
6 thick slices white, country bread
Extra virgin olive oil to serve
Drain the soaked chickpeas and place in a large stockpot. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Cover with 3.5 litres (14 cups) of cold water (add the rest later if it doesn’t fit) and bring to the boil. Skim the surface to remove any scum. Lower the heat slightly and cook, uncovered, for about 1.15 hours, or until the chickpeas are tender. Season with salt and pepper in the last half hour of the cooking time. Puree two-thirds of the chickpeas with their cooking liquid, leaving the remainder whole. Return everything to the pot. Add a little hot water if too thick.
Chop one of the garlic cloves. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped garlic, rosemary sprigs and the chilli. When you begin to smell the garlic, add the silverbeet. Saute on a medium heat for a couple of minutes before adding the tomato. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the tomato has melted into a sauce and seems cooked. Remove the rosemary sprigs and discard. Add the tomato mix to the chickpea pot and simmer for another few minutes to blend the flavours. Check the seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Toast or grill the bread slices, rub one side with the whole garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil. Put the soup into individual bowls with a splash of olive oil and grinding of black pepper. Enjoy!
For more information on our fractional ownership opportunities or details on Appassionata’s Italian lifestyle brand go to www.appassionata.com
While in most other parts of the world, Christmas and New Year holidays have now come to an end, Italians are still celebrating. On January 6, the Epiphany, is a national holiday to commemorate the visit of the Three Kings, to the manager of Baby Jesus.
The Feast of the Epiphany is an important post-Christmas date on the calendar and is a national holiday in Italy. The tradition of La Befana, who arrives on the Epiphany, plays a big in the Italian Christmas holidays. Befana also marks the end of Christmas and New Year’s festivities in Italy. The children go back to school, adults go back to work, and the Christmas decorations come down.
The Feast of the Epiphany commemorates the twelfth day of Christmas, when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus.
La Befana, arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5th with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.
According to legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. A shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died.
She got lost and never found the manger.
Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the night before Epiphany, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5th, awaiting the visit of La Befana.
La Befana Festivals
The town of Urbania in Le Marche, holds a four-day festival for La Befana from January 2 to 6. Children can visit her at the La Casa della Befana. This is one of the biggest celebrations in Italy.
The Befane races, Regata delle Bafane, are held in Venice on January 6. Men dressed as La Befana race in boats on the Grand Canal.
If you enjoy new experiences and a wanderlust lifestyle come and visit us here in Le Marche……
For more information on Appassionata’s Italian lifestyle brand go to www.appassionata.com or email Dawn directly at email@example.com
Over the years, Christmas in England, and indeed many other countries has become over commercialised and rather daunting. Often the decorating begins in August and Christmas trees and lights are up and flashing while shopping for the last of the summer bargains in September! Roll on December and everyone is tired of the crowds, the Christmas parties and searching for the end of the scotch tape.
January is steeped in depression. Credit cards have been maxed out, everyone’s detoxing and excess kilos need to be shed.
Christmas in Italy feels more gentle, elegant and authentic. The priorities are different. December 8th is known as the L’lmmacolata, the celebration of the immaculate conception. It is also the day most Italian’s decorate their trees and set out their nativity scenes. Many towns and cities celebrate with Christmas markets, selling traditional gifts and decorations.
Family gatherings over the Christmas period are really important. Food is simple and delicious, locally grown and home cooked. A glass of wine or two is normal, but rarely to excess. Mass is attended by all generations, babes in arms, grandparents and everyone in between. The children usually receive one or two gifts on Christmas Eve, carefully chosen and lovingly wrapped.
Enjoy the festive season where ever you are, but try and remember the true meaning of Christmas.
For more information on Le Marche and fractional ownership opportunities with Appassionata’s Italian lifestyle brand go to www.appassionata.com , or contact Dawn directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
I must confess before I came to Italy I had never tasted a fresh truffle. One November evening, years ago, our foody friend, Giampaolo, suggested a trip to the mountains for dinner. It was truffle season, and he had a friend who had a restaurant who had a cousin who had a friend who had just been truffle hunting the day before. Ever eager for a new experience we jumped at the chance and into the car. When I enquired about the drive time, Giampaolo had shrugged, smiled and estimated about twenty minutes. An hour and a half later we pulled up outside what I thought was someone’s house. It was really, but they had opened their hearts and dining room to lovers of homegrown, home cooked food. A family affair, the norm in these parts, Nonna busy cooking in the kitchen, daughter waiting tables and her husband looking serious about wine.
The delicate scent of truffles enveloped the room. The candles flickered and the fire roared, the atmosphere was warm and cosy. I could feel my cheeks glowing and my eyelids drooping……and the rich Amarone wine was going down a treat.
It was a truffle lovers paradise. Course after course arrived, each one subtly flavoured with fine shavings of fresh truffle. I think there were six courses, but I confess to being in a dream-like state and can’t quite remember. The soup and pasta dishes were wonderful but my favourite…. poached egg with truffle slices scattered on top, so simple, so delicious.
Truffles are weight for weight, one of the most expensive foods on the planet. Luckily, however, a little goes a long way and in Le Marche you can indulge in them without pawning the family silver.
The white truffle is the finest – and the most expensive, tartufi bianchi, and can cost well over €3000 a kilo depending on quality and seasonal abundance. The black truffle comes at a more modest price. If you want to buy them fresh you have to be here between October and the end of December for the bianchi and between December and March for the neri pregiati.
A Few Facts
November is prime truffle time and truffles represent the greatest culinary treasure of the gastronomic area here in Le Marche. For those who like a little adventure, it is possible to take part in a special truffle huntwith a professional truffle hunter, who finds these underground fungi with the help of his trained dogs.
You will get your shoes dirty following the dog and his master through the woods early in the morning and, if you are lucky enough, you will see the dog furiously digging and the truffle hunter extract the truffle carefully with a special tool. He then covers over the hole in order not to damage the natural spores, and scrapes off the earth from the truffle.
After that you are invited into the kitchen and with the help of a trained chef you can cook or simply taste the traditional truffle dishes of Le Marche.
Ten Truffle Facts
1) Most truffles rarely grow in the same spot twice and are embedded under the soil, close to roots of holm oaks, chestnut trees, poplars, pines and hazelnut trees.
2) Truffles can be stored for several days in a paper bag in the refrigerator, but the strength of their flavour decreases rapidly with time.
3) Since Roman times truffles have been used in Europe as delicacies, medicines, and even aphrodisiacs.
4) Traditionally, pigs were used to hunt truffles but in Italy their use has been prohibited because of damage caused to the soil. Dogs have now replaced them as they are easier to train. The lagotto romagnolo is the official dog breed for truffle hunting in Italy.
5) Most of truffle hunters are serious about keeping their truffle finds and locations secret.
6) Truffles must be collected at the proper time otherwise they will have little taste. You can buy fresh white truffles in Le Marche between October and the end of December.
7) Truffle hunting can be arranged seasonally for white truffles from September to December.
8) During the last weekends of October Sant’Angelo in Vado in Le Marche hosts the Mostra Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco Pregiato, an excellent chance to taste white truffles and see the town at its best.
9) From the end of October to the first two weekends in November Acqualagna in Le Marche is transformed into Italy’s “truffle capital” as it hosts the annual Truffle Fair.
10) White truffles are perfect to enrich main courses and can be inserted into meats, under the skins of roasted fowl, or stuffings. They are generally served raw, shaved into flakes, adding flavour and fragrance to omelettes rice and fresh homemade pasta.
If you enjoy new experiences and a wanderlust lifestyle come and visit us here in Le Marche……
As the cooler months arrive in Le Marche, our ingredients change with the weather pattern and we adapt our recipes to the local produce around us.
Years ago, I once asked a neighbour what he did when he wanted to eat strawberries in November and he looked genuinely confused. Why would I want to eat strawberries in November, they grow in summer! Nature takes care of us during the different seasons and the earth gives us what we need. I eat oranges in winter because we need their vitamin C.
After this short, but very interesting conversation I started to change my focus on food. It isn’t always about what we want to eat, but what we should be eating, produce that grows naturally during the seasons each year. As the months and ingredients change, so does the family table in Italy.
November is prime truffle time here and truffles represent the greatest culinary treasure of the gastronomic area of Le Marche.
Try out one of our favourite truffle recipes, it’s quick and easy to prepare and truly delicious.
RECIPE – Truffle Pasta
Cooking Time: 20 Mins
Serves: 4 people
fresh black truffle
Grate cheese. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large sauté pan.
Reserve some of the pasta water before straining.
Add cooked pasta to sauté pan and toss to coat with butter.
Add grated cheese and some pasta water to loosen mixture to desired consistency and mix to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Thinly shave black truffle over each bowl at the table. Enjoy!
If you want to experience delicious, locally grown food and fine wine visit Le Marche.
For more information on Le Marche and factional ownership opportunities with Appassionata’s Italian lifestyle brand go to www.appassionata.com , or contact Dawn directly email@example.com
Years ago, growing up in England, olive oil was something we used a few times a year when we had guests over to impress. Unless you were prepared to pay a King’s Ransom the olive oil on sale was pretty basic and tasteless. Fast forward a few years and I treat olive oil the same as wine, with respect and enjoyment. Here in Le Marche, we are blessed to be surrounded by olive groves. The olive tree is a dominant and enduring feature of the Italian landscape, and the months of October and November are spent picking and pressing the olives and trimming the trees.
The olive tree ranges in size from a small shrub to an immense, gnarled tree, spreading it’s branches far and wide. It yields both fruit for eating, as well as a rich prize of precious olio di oliva, the basis of the so-called Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, and especially olio extra vergine di oliva (extra virgin olive oil) is certainly one of the greatest gifts Italy gives to the world. Olive oil is widely considered a superfood, being both very healthy and utterly delicious. No surprise, then, that it fits in so well with today’s modern lifestyles and diets.
A Few Facts
The traditional production of this trendy modern superfood has changed little since time immemorial and essentially remains a very simple process. The olives are harvested and ideally taken to the frantoio – the olive oil mill – as quickly as possible. The first phase is known as la frangitura whereby the whole olives are ground to a paste.
In the old style traditional frantoio, this was done utilising slowly revolving granite and stone millstones. Then the ground olive paste was layered into straw or fibre mats placed on top of each other in a press. Extra virgin oil would come from la prima spremitura fredda, the first cold pressing, whereby under gentle pressure, the liquid was extracted from the olive paste. This liquid consisted of both oil and water contained within the olives. The liquids had to be separated and this was normally achieved either by using a centrifuge or simply by decanting.
In modern state of the art frantoi, technology is now used to make sure we get the best possible product. Producers have full control of the whole process, modern machines are used, leaving no room for a second pressing. In modern systems the label “first press” is often more of a marketing tool than a real reflection of the production methods.
In both cases, the old style frantoi and the modern ones, the olive oil produced after these important phases is unfiltered olio extra vergine d’oliva, extremely low in oleic acid (by law less than 1%) and traditionally stored in large earthenware urns known as orci or in modern stainless steel containers. Such oil, when made from carefully harvested olives and straight from the frantoio, is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most special food products on earth.
KEEP AWAY FROM THE LIGHT – Extra virgin olive oil should be stored at cool temperatures, away from light and without exposure to oxygen. The oil is happier stored in dark glass bottles or tin containers and always close the bottle as soon as you finish using it. Keep it in a cupboard and it will prolong the taste.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL DOES NOT AGE WELL –Check the date on the bottle and make sure you are getting oil produced during the last harvest. Buy only the quantity you might need for the year to make sure you are not stuck with old olive oil when the new oil is out on the shelves.
GREEN COLOUR DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MEAN TOP QUALITY – The most emphasized characteristics of extra virgin olive oil is often the colour. It should range between green and yellow. However, a deep green colour does not automatically indicate a better quality oil. The professional olive oil tasters use blue or green coloured tasting glasses so not to influence their final judgment. Focus on taste, smell and acidity levels rather than colour when buying extra virgin olive oil.
FIRST PRESS AND COLD PRESS – Remember that quite often the label “first press” is only a marketing tool and does not really mean that there were two different pressing phases. Extra virgin olive oil must be produced entirely without the use of any solvents, and under temperatures that will not degrade the oil (less than 86°F, 30°C). If it was not produced “cold press” it cannot be extra virgin olive oil.
10 Reasons To Love ‘Liquid Gold’
Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats.
Contains large amounts of antioxidants.
Strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Olive may help to prevent strokes.
Protects against heart disease.
May reduce the risk Type 2 diabetes.
The antioxidants in olive oil have anti-cancer properties.
Can help treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Has antibacterial properties.
May help fight Alzheimer’s disease.
A Little Beauty Hack – Olive Oil Hair Mask
One of my favourites…
½ cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of honey
1 egg yolk
Just mix together all the ingredients to a smooth paste. Apply to your hair and leave on for twenty minutes. Wash off with warm water and then apply your favourite conditioner, rinse again, dry and admire.
For more information on Le Marche and fractional ownership opportunities with Appassionata’s Italian lifestyle brand go to www.appassionata.com , or contact Dawn directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ascoli Piceno – a city older than Rome and built around the stunning Piazza del Popolo. This famous piazza is known as the ‘Living Room’ of Italy and what a room it is, surrounded by Renaissance and Gothic Palaces.
The elegant marble floors and walls glisten in the sunshine with shades of milk and honey, transporting you to a bygone era.
Getting around this beautiful city is easy, just put one foot in front of the other, although I am still in awe of the architecture and constantly bump into people and objects while gazing upwards! As I wander around the town I feel the history seeping into my soul and try and imagine who has trodden this path so many years before me. In every corner of this city, you will stumble across Roman ruins and noble towers, churches and travertine columns, a cultural heaven.
For those of you who like a little more structure to your day, you can choose to partake in an organised walking tour with a local guide. These vary in time, you’re in Italy after all, but usually last between two and three hours and take in all Ascoli’s architectural gems.
Cafe Meletti & Dustin Hoffman in Ascoli for the filming of Alfredo Alfredo
Tucked away in a corner of the Piazza is the famous Cafe Meletti Bar, named after its founder, Silvio Meletti who first opened its doors to the public in the early 1900’s.
It quickly became the place to be seen, both Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Satre frequented it often.
It has also been featured in many films over the past few years, including ‘Les Dauphins’ and ‘Alfredo, Alfredo’ starring Dustin Hoffman.
I walk into the bar and gaze upwards, admiring the fresco ceiling and Murano chandelier. A circular marble-topped table beckons me, I reach into my bag and switch off my phone. This is an experience that needs no interruptions, I pull up a chair, place my order and gaze across the Piazza, soaking up the atmosphere of this very special place.
For lovers of antiques (that’s definitely me )there is a splendid antique market held in Ascoli Piceno on the third weekend of every month. The market is set up in the town’s splendid medieval centre, including Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Arringa. Selling everything from quality art and chandeliers to rusty old nails and door hinges. It is the perfect opportunity to go browsing for weird and wonderful things with a backdrop of some of the most beautiful architecture and buildings in Italy. This is one of my favourite places to find hidden treasures for our Appassionata homes.
Ascoli Piceno is only a 45-minute drive away from our properties and makes the perfect place for a days outing.
I love wine, in each and every colour. It has been mentioned I always reach for the fullest glass, regardless if it’s mine or not, but I’m just a ‘the glass is always half full’ sort of person!
In our local bars and restaurants, we have an abundance of sommeliers. Each one advising and encouraging us to try a new wine, theatrically arriving at the table, twirling and swirling, sniffing and snorting. I love the extra drama this adds to an evening out.
We are blessed to live in a region of Le Marche surrounded by rolling hills dotted with vineyards, family owned for generations. Their love and dedication to the art of winemaking is inspiring.
This is a wine region to be taken seriously and really does produce some stellar wines.
Thanks to the mild climate throughout the year and the constant exposure to the south, this land has been used for viticulture since the Middle Ages.
With around 24,000 hectares of vines, the cultivation of the grapes is now one of the most important agricultural activities in the Le Marche region. Thankfully most of the region’s best wines never leave and are enjoyed by local Italians and tourists……. and me!
Let me introduce you to one of our favourite local wine producers, Terra Fageto in Pedaso. Their hard work and passion is refreshing, creating a range of prestigious, genuine wines, each with its own personality.
This small winery is owned by the di Ruscio family and has been for four generations. I will leave Dante to tell you their story.
“This fragrant land, where ladybugs still settle. This land guarded with love, by the hard work of four generations. This land whose grapes look towards the shores of the Adriatic and are the result of careful organic farming. This land gives a harmonious and genuine wine. “
An article written and published in Italy Magazine by Georgette Jupe| September 21, 2018
Have you ever dreamt about owning a vacation property but couldn’t quite justify the cost, or the day-to-day upkeep? Luckily there are solutions that are alternative to renting that can allow you to have a second home in one of Italy’s most unsung regions without all of the red-tape hiccups that can come with investing in a second home abroad.
Appassionata is a luxury and boutique Fractional Ownership business run by Brit Italofiles Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs and husband Michael in the heart of the beautiful and relaxing Le Marche region of Italy, in a place where life sings to a different tune. Where strolling charming cobblestoned streets and spending hours sipping coffee in a piazza are par for the course. Their well-designed properties are also all within close proximity to Le Marche’s mountains and coastline, and to two local airport to make travel to and fro as seamless as possible making la dolce vita much easier to reach.
But it’s one thing for me to tell you that but what about those who chose to change their lives and actually take the plunge in one of these beautiful luxury homes?
Diane and Mark are in their mid-fifties from South Africa, now based in London for the last thirty years. Both of them are successful businesspeople with two older children who are now embarking on their own vibrant careers.
Like many in similar positions, they always expressed an interest for a second, vacation property but had a hard time finding properties that truly fit their needs. Italy was always foremost in their mind, having spent time in Rome, Florence, Venice and Sicily so they decided to embark on a discovery visit with Appassionata without having ever visited Le Marche previously. The idea of fractional ownership was intriguing but naturally before making any large financial decisions, it was best to see the place in person.
Diane and Mark had a few requirements, namely a high standard of property (needed no renovations) with a garden and swimming pool — and in the case of the house they visited, the tennis court, vineyard and views were an added bonus. An important aspect was to find a place that wasn’t overrun with tourism and filled with predominantly locals.
Location-wise it needed to be sufficiently rural to allow for outdoor activities, but within a close distance to local shops for basic necessities. Lastly, it needed to be large enough to accommodate a group of friends and their children and partners. With this in mind it was time to visit the property.
They flew to Rome and drove to Le Marche, a beautiful drive that offered the first taste of what was to come. They settled in the accommodation that Appassionata owner’s Michael and Dawn Hobbs had arranged for them and instantly integrated into local life, visiting local restaurants and cafes before visiting Casa Leopoldi to inspect the property available. In their words “we found the rooms to be impressively decorated and by the end of dinner on the first night we decided to buy the final share of the property.”
Regarding the concept of fractional ownership this proved to be just the ideal situation for Diane and Mark. It enabled them to have all of the benefits of ownership, including a say in how the property was run, without having to deal with the daily management of the property itself. Each owner has a 1/10th ownership in the property which they have total control over and are allotted five exclusive weeks a year to use. As stated in The Sunday Times “The expense of buying a holiday home outright, along with the annual running costs seemed crazy, when you may only use the house for an average of 40 nights a year. – That is why Appassionata was born!”
They knew that any second property would be standing empty most of the year and renting it out to strangers would allow tenants who did not necessarily feel an attachment to the property as they did. The fact that there were only a small number of owners meant that there was a “family” feeling among the other buyers who all shared a common interest in maintaining the quality of the property.
Also attractive was the fact that the weeks set every year are not set in stone. allowing them to visit the area in a range of seasons. Due to the way the system works, if other owners aren’t using their weeks, that opens that time up to anyone who wants to use it.
Mark also sits on the board of the company as one of the owner representatives who meet for board meetings to stay involved with the management company during the year regarding matters of running the property.
I asked him how he typically spends a day in Le Marche to give us an idea of someone’s normal routine. He said “We normally start the day by going on a walk to the village to buy bread from the bakery or down the street to a local farmer for vegetables. If we are feeling particular energetic they swim in the pool or run by the beach before breakfast.” Something they often do is head to Cupra Marittima to rent bikes at Carlito’s bike shop to cycle at the seafront before heading to one of the many seaside restaurants for lunch. “In the late afternoon, we play tennis before heading to the village for an aperitivo before dinner at home for an evening barbecue.”
I also spoke to America-based Deborah of Italian descent who despite living in the states kept the beloved traditions of her Italian relatives alive. Her and her husband are working professionals who love travel and come often to Italy. Deborah explained to me over email “I felt a deep connection to Italy most of my life. As a young girl, I was fascinated watching Italian movies with actress Sophia Loren and my biggest dream was to one day own a home in Italy.”
Their intrigue for Le Marche was ignited after reading an article about Appassionata that made them ponder, could this be the solution for us?
As you may have predicted, as soon as they arrived in this often-overlooked region, the landscape was the first catalyst that took their breath away.
Deborah explained “Where else can you travel from the mountains through the rolling hills to the Adriatic Sea in less than an hour, the authenticity of this beautiful place is really what created such a hold on me”
This region indeed is one of Italy’s best kept secrets where one can swim in the blue sea, hike the rugged mountains and stumble upon so many charming medieval hilltop villages and hidden places carved into ancient stone.
Deborah was also won over by the seamless solution to own a luxury property for a fraction of the price. One of her initial concerns was an eye for interior aesthetics, something that she well appreciates in her home in Le Marche that Appassionata-owner Dawn has lovingly decorated. Her eye for detail is one of the reasons that the shares in these properties typically sell rather quickly. Dawn spent ages working hard with local artisans to make sure every single room was unique, with no small detail overlooked.
Mod-cons like a washer and dryer and other high-end appliances were an attractive bonus along with three attractive terraces with sweeping vistas of the countryside. As Deborah says “If you look closely on a nice day, you can even spot the Adriatic Sea in the distance.”
Additionally, one of the biggest hurdles they had before while house searching was the idea of owning a home but not being able to regularly maintain the day to day works, this making Appassionata’s full daily management of the property especially attractive for their needs.
“Appassionata meticulously maintains the property through the year so that when we arrive we can immediately embrace “vacation mode” with no worries. Everything is in full working order when we arrive and we can even have a stocked refrigerator if we arrange in advance” Deborah says.
I asked what else Deborah appreciated about local life in Le Marche as for me. She replied “It is a wonderful experience to just throw open the windows and watch the local residents going about their day, chatting over morning coffee and freshly-baked pastries or just taking in the delicious smells wafting from our neighbor’s cooking on Sunday afternoons. Not to mention the sound of church bells chiming in on the hour.”
They felt the warmth of the village and welcomed by other residents, helping them to fit into the fabric of local life. Deborah continues with “Needless to say, we have a fun, active social life in Le Marche.”
I asked her to explain how she spends a day in her village to which she replies “our days can be whatever we want them to be. Luxuriating at home, doing nothing or enjoying a glass of wine overlooking a beautiful vineyard. We may visit one of the many medieval villages and towns and choose between the sea and the mountains. The food and wine here is absolutely sublime. One can choose to dine under the stars at a gourmet restaurant or at a more casual seaside chalet.”
She finished with “For my family, the entire Appassionata experience has been the best decision we’ve ever made, rejoicing in “La Dolce Vita” year after year.
This is a question I have been asked many times over the past few years. While I don’t like to generalise, the common theme is people who want to experience real Italy, immerse themselves in the culture and history, value the importance of family and of course the great cuisine!
For our family, for our business, Le Marche is the perfect place. Trying to find some authenticity in this crazy, busy world is getting more and more difficult. Sometimes we just need to escape the chaos and experience something real and true.
Le Marche prides itself on being quintessentially Italian and that’s what people fall in love with, and it still remains one of Italy’s best kept secrets.
A Leader or Follower?
There are some people who are leaders, they are adventurous and like to make their own discoveries, each day is exciting and they have a thirst for knowledge. Some people are followers, they go where others have been and see what others have seen. They like to travel the well trodden path.
Most visitors to Italy travel to the main tourist cities like Rome and Florence and bask on the beaches along the Amalfi Coast. These places are amazing and definitely worth a visit, but does this give you a true insight into the real Italy?
For those of us who really like to get under the skin of a country and integrate with the locals rather than be surrounded by thousands of tourists, Le Marche is the place. I prefer to hear the beautiful tones of the Italian language being spoken while drinking my early morning coffee, rather than my mother tongue.
Picture a place where mountains roll gently down to a stunning coastline of blue flag beaches, dotted with restaurants serving the catch of the day.
A patchwork vista really does exist here, a blend of olive groves and vineyards and fields of sunflowers shimmering in the sun ….. sometimes I feel like I’m driving through a film set. Generation after generation have farmed the land for hundreds of years, growing produce for their family or selling it onto the local shops and restaurants.
This is a region brimming with ancient churches, abbeys and monasteries. Tiny village theatres, with fresco ceilings and gold leaf mouldings are found tucked away along the cobbled streets of virtually every medieval village. I have had the great privilege of watching many productions over the past years and I often have to pinch myself that I’m not in Covent Garden. I’m sitting in a tiny, exquisite, eighty seat theatre, built hundreds of years ago in a hill top town in Le Marche, but the standard, the professionalism and the dedication is the same
How Do You Spend Your Time?
I like to stay busy, which is good as I have four children, two grandchildren, four rescue horses, two rescue dogs, and six cats, and I work…..
Whatever your interests and passions there are so many possibilities here.
It’s All About the Experience
Here is a brief snap shot of our down time in Le Marche.
Monday evening was magical, sitting under the stars in the piazza of the museum, Polo Museale di San Francesco, in the town of Montefiore dell ‘Aso, watching an old Italian movie L’Albero Degli Zoccoli. This museum dates back to 1264 and the painting Polyptch by the famous artist Carlo Crivelli is the centre piece.
Sergio, the owner of Osteria della Cornacchie, one of our local restaurants, kindly invited our family over for dinner on Tuesday as a thank you for being one of his best customers. He is famous for his sense of humour, and polenta served on a wooden board. Italians travel for miles to taste this speciality and enjoy the great atmosphere.
Early to bed on Wednesday evening, as we had a 4.30am alarm call on Thursday morning. A sunrise concert performed by the violinist Valentino Alessandrini, down on the beach in the seaside town of Pedaso. The music, the setting, everything was totally breath taking. The waves crashing against the rocks added to the emotion of this very special occasion. It was certainly worth the early start and I will definitely be returning again next year.
Friday is the day I love to cycle along the promenade, which runs for miles alongside the beach. I pull over for a cappuccino, chat to the locals and browse the local market in San Benedetto. I can never resist stopping off for lunch in Grottamare at one of the best seafood restaurants in the world, Il Grecale.
Saturday evening…… this was something I have always wanted to experience, La Cena in Vigna, dinner in the vines. One of our local cantina’s, Dea Flora, organised a wonderful evening of food, wine and live music. A magical setting, with shooting stars lighting up the night sky.
Our philosophy is to celebrate and share the very best Italy has to offer, without compromise.
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