7 Perfect Summer Days in the Marche

Casa Pace e Gioia aerial view. 7 perfect summer days in the Marche.
Casa Pace e Gioia

At Casa Pace e Gioia we are lucky because there are so many things to do in our area, all year round. So we put together our version of an ideal summer week at Casa Pace e Gioia that introduces you to the Marche’s nearby hidden gems, and also gives you time to relax in the quiet countryside, without hurry. Because when returning home, no one wants to feel like they need to recover from their vacation. Presenting our 7 Perfect Summer Days in the Marche…

Day 1:

Arrive and relax with a glass of wine, wander the grounds and take in the views. 

If it’s lunchtime, try Osteria San Nicola, il Santo Bevitore, or Alimentari Fioretti in the historic center of Tolentino, a 15 minute drive. 

In the afternoon after the shops reopen, head to nearby Colmurano and pick up award-winning wines directly at the Saputi family’s cantina. They’ll treat you to a quick tasting if you’d like to try before you buy. Then head to the renowned bakery I Sette Artigiani, for breads and sweets. Up the main street through town you’ll find an excellent butcher, a small but well-stocked grocery store, and a large fruit and vegetable market with delicious olives. 

There should be enough time for a swim or to relax in the hanging chairs before your Private Chef is ready to serve your Welcome Dinner! You’ll dine under the loggia with views of the sun setting over the valley and depending on the month, fireflies. Your private chef will prepare traditional local foods, paired with wine, and explain the provenance. They’ll also clean up everything, so no mess for you to deal with. 

Marco Candi with Laura Dezi at a wine tasting

Day 2:

You’ll spend the day on a Wine and Food Tour with Marco’s Way

Marco will pick you up at 9 AM for an unforgettable introduction to our local foods and wines. You’ll visit 2-3 small family owned wineries that use native grapes to make a stunning variety of exceptional wines. He will also take you to a local olive oil producer for a tour and tasting. You’ll lunch very well at a winery or a local typical restaurant. Marco is a native Marchigiano who has a wealth of history and information about the area which will further enrich your tour.

Once home, if you have any room, find a casual dinner nearby, like Il Muretto, Pizzeria Best Of, or L’Approdo.

First Century Frescoes in the Temple at Urbs Salvia
First Century Frescoes in the Temple at Urbs Salvia

Day 3: 

Tour the nearby First-century Roman ruins of Urbs Salvia with a guide to put it all into context for you. Preserved by a landslide, the ruins are now excavated and scattered among the 40 hectare archeological park, where they continue to unearth more discoveries. The upper part in Urbisaglia includes the aqueduct reservoir, within the city walls, which shows how the Romans engineered a safe water supply. Descending the hill, you’ll see the theater, the amphitheater, and the temple with first-century frescoes. 

Also in Urbisaglia, La Rocca is a 12–15th century castle overlooking Piazza Garibaldi. It has amazing views of the countryside from its four towers. Enjoy a gelato, caffè, or an aperitivo at our favorite bar in the piazza that faces the church behind La Rocca. 

Lunch in Urbisaglia under the loggia at Le Logge, a favorite restaurant of many. The Tombolini family is welcoming and Chef Andrea offers creative interpretations of traditional local dishes. 

Enjoy the afternoon at home in the pool.

For dinner tonight you’re headed to Il Sigillo in the lovely medieval town of Camporotondo di Fiastrone. Il Sigillo is an intimate family owned restaurant with stone walls and a relaxing ambiance. Stefano, who runs the front of the house, has curated an excellent wine list and is an expert at pairing them with the delicious homemade dishes that his sister and mother make. Save room for Cinzia’s special desserts. 

A walking path at the Abbadia di Fiastra Natural Reserve
A walking path at the Abbadia di Fiastra Natural Reserve

Day 4:

Sleep in and get a good night’s rest after what might have been a late evening. Hang out in the pool, play bocce or ping pong. 

At lunchtime, drive to the nearby Abbadia di Fiastra Natural Reserve. Eat on the patio at Ristorante da Rosa, and pick from many traditional local dishes and seasonal specials. Their homemade ravioli is particularly outstanding, and their homemade desserts are fabulous. 

Walk off lunch along the walking trails throughout the park, including one designed without obstacles for the visually impaired and incorporates the senses of hearing, touch, and smell. Another trail traverses past a woodland area and is the last example of the historical forests that once covered Le Marche. 

Visit the park’s namesake Abbey Church, founded in 1142 and one of the best-preserved Cistercian abbeys in Italy. The cloisters are particularly beautiful. The Farm Museum, the Archaeological Collection, and the Wine Museum provide a fascinating history to this unique area. 

Dine in the historic city center in Tolentino at il Santo Bevitore, known for their creative seafood dishes and excellent wines to pair with them. If you haven’t already, stroll down the block to admire our notable clocktower and continue on to the nearby Basilica of San Nicola and its peaceful cloister. 

Lame Rosse, Sibillini National Park
Lame Rosse

Day 5:

Today you’re driving to the  Sibillini National Park to reach the trailhead of the hike to the Lame Rosse.  The famous“Red Blades” are unusual and amazing rock pinnacles and towers caused by erosion and held together by clay and silts. In the mornings they glow red, but they are spectacular any time of the day. The 7 kilometer hike takes about 3 hours round trip and begins with a walk over the Fiastra Lake and the dam that created it. 

When you’ve finished your hike, lunch at nearby Rifugio di Tribbio which has a peaceful position in the mountains and fantastic local dishes. 

After lunch, drive up the narrow road to the ruins of the Malagotti castle and the church of San Paolo. From the summit, admire the panoramic view of the Fiastra Lake and wander among the ruins, scattered with wildflowers and frequented by birds. 

Take a scenic route back and head towards Bolognola, Sassotetto, and Sarnano to experience more of the park. You may encounter sheep in the road and see cows grazing in the fields. Wild orchids, other wildflowers, and flowering trees often line the roadway. 

The medieval fortified town of Sarnano is named one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy. Park in the piazza and walk through the gate to wander the concentric circles of this attractive brick town. 

From Sarnano, it’s an easy drive on SP78 to return home.

After a long day hiking, for dinner, take it easy and have a pizza night. Il Muretto in Colmurano is only 5 minutes away and has excellent pizzas. They also have take out if you prefer to eat at home.  

Beach on the Conero Coast.
Beach on the Conero Coast. Photo courtesy of Turismo Marche

Day 6:

After hiking the mountains, relax at the beach

The closest beach is 30 minutes away at Civitanova Marche where both the North and South beaches have Blue Flag status for cleanliness and quality. Select one of our recommended beach chalets and rent chaise loungers and umbrellas for the day, several chalets also have beach sports and kids activities. 

Alternatively, the Mount Conero coast beaches south of Ancona are just an hour away.  Under tall cliffs dotted with villages, these suggestive beaches boast a beautiful panorama. Stand up paddling, canoe rentals, windsurfing, and kitesurfing are offered. You can also rent an inflatable boat and see the famous “Due Sorelle” rock formation and spend your day on a beach accessible only by boat. 

No matter what area you choose, have lunch on the beach barefoot or at a nearby waterfront restaurant where you’re certain to find fresh Adriatic seafood on the menu. 

If you make it back to the house in time for dinner, I suggest Terra Nostra, in nearby San Ginesio, where you can eat inspired local dishes outside with a view of the mountains and the setting sun. 

poolside ping pong
Poolside ping pong

Day 7: 

It’s your last day. So you’re enjoying it fully, at home in the pool, playing lawn games or ping pong. If you don’t have leftovers for lunch, head to Norcineria. It’s very close by, casual, they have outdoor dining, a playground for kids, and delicious antipasti, pastas, sandwiches, meat dishes and more. 

For your last dinner, if you have not yet been, definitely try Ristorante Pizzeria L’Antico Approdo. It’s one of our favorites. It’s also nearby, casual, family-friendly, with indoor and outdoor seating, and a broad menu that give you a chance to try your favorite Marchigiano dish one last time. 

hanging chairs
Hanging Chairs

Day 8:

Checkout isn’t until 11 o’clock and we sometimes have complimentary late check outs available, just ask! Have some breakfast and pack calmly. There’s time for a morning coffee (and/or Prosecco) from the hanging chairs and one last swim before you leave. 

Reserve your perfect week here.

Contact me and I’ll create a custom itinerary for you.

A 14 day itinerary is coming soon!

Local dishes to try in the Marche

Cinghiale with Polenta
What to eat in the Marche
Cinghiale with Polenta

In the Marche we are lucky because we have the largest variety of traditional local foods in all of Italy. You could stay two weeks and try a different dish every day. 

We have our beautiful geography to thank. The Sibillini mountains to our west provide truffles, sheep, cheeses, cattle, chestnuts, and boar. Countryside foothills abound with wheat, vegetables, olives, and fresh produce. Area farms raise pigs, chickens, ducks, and rabbits. And the Adriatic to our east supplies not only our area, but all Italy with an abundant variety of fresh fish and seafood. 

Our location also reflects our food heritage. Being just over the mountains from Rome, and connected by the ancient Via Salaria, we have Roman influences. Greeks and North Africans landed on the coastline and settled, imparting some of their culinary customs. So there really is something for everyone, no matter what your food preference is. 

15 of our favorite “Must-Try” Traditional Marchigiani foods

Vincisgrassi at Il Sigillio
Local dishes in the Marche
Vincisgrassi at Il Sigillo, Camporotondo

Vincisgrassi is a multi-layered lasagna that originated in Macerata. Everyone makes it a little differently, and some use vino cotto in the pasta dough. The meat and cheeses used can vary but often include veal, prosciutto, chicken livers and giblets. Historically it was made at special occasions but it’s often a menu item, and surprisingly light considering the many layers.

Ciauscolo, or ciabuscolo is a pork sausage made with highly ground meat and often white wine or vino cotto. It is lightly smoked and dried in a cool place for a couple of months. Eaten raw as an antipasto, it is often spread on bread. It’s also delicious as an ingredient in filled pasta or polenta. 

Brodetto is a fish stew famous along the coast. It is thought to have been invented in Athens and spread throughout the Mediterranean by the Greeks. Each town makes their own version and asserts it as the best. I have 5 different recipes for it in one Marche cookbook. Every preparation calls for an assortment of fish, often as many as 13 types. Scorfano, or scorpion fish, is almost always included in a traditional Marchigiano Brodetto

Olive Ascolane, fried olives
Typical food in the Marche
What to eat in Marche
Olive all’Ascolana at L’Antico Approdo

Olive all’Ascolana, or fried stuffed olives are ubiquitous at restaurants and as street food, and originated in the Ascoli Piceno province just south of Casa Pace e Gioia. Perfect as an appetizer, local Ascolane olives are pitted, stuffed with a meat mixture, breaded and fried. The filling can vary but typically includes a meat mixture with nutmeg. Vegetarian options exist and the Montelupone artichoke stuffed and fried olives are fabulous! 

Cinghiale con le Pappardelle or wild boar with pappardelle, can be found in other Italian regions but what distinguishes a Marchigiano dish is wild fennel, which grows abundantly in our area and complements the flavor of the boar. The boar is marinated at least overnight, if not for days, prior to making the sauce. 

Bistecca di Scottona Marchigiana, a grilled steak of a young, prized Marchigiana cow which has IGP status, a symbol of high quality. The Marchigiana is a powerful white cow with muscles that have an excellent proportion of fat to create a succulent marbled meat. Until the 1950s they were also used as working animals. 

Coniglio in Porchetta, what to eat in the Marche
Coniglio in Porchetta at Il Santo Bevitore, Tolentino

Coniglio in Porchetta, or Rabbit with Wild Fennel is a local traditional dish for both the rabbit and the wild fennel, two Marchigiani trademarks. Preparations vary, and sometimes the rabbit is stuffed, but the ingredients always include pork, wild fennel, and garlic. 

Porchetta Roasted pork, not to be confused with Coniglio in Porchetta, above. Is roasted pork usually served as street-food style sandwiches, is popular throughout Italy, but is distinguished in the Marche again by the presence of wild fennel. Historically, the Marchigiani prepared a porchetta for the festival celebrating the wheat threshing. 

Cicoria, or chicory is on almost every menu in our region. Indeed, it grows wild in between our grapevines. These slightly bitter leafy greens are usually boiled, then tossed in a pan with olive oil, chili pepper, garlic, and salt. It’s a must-try, at least once. 

Cappelletti in Brodo di Cappone, 
What to eat in the marche
Cappelletti in Brodo di Cappone at L’Antico Approdo

Cappelletti in Brodo di Cappone is a homemade pasta stuffed with a mixture of cooked veal, chicken, pork, mortadella, and parmesan cheese, then folded to resemble a hat (cappelletti). They are served in a delicious capon broth. In the past, this was served only at Christmas but nowadays is available in the fall-spring seasons. 

Agnello allo Scottadito is seasoned lamb roasted over a hot grill and served so hot it will “burn your fingers” (scottadito). It’s often included in a “mixed grill” dish. This is Matt’s all-time favorite. 

Pecorino dei Monti Sibillini is one of our many fantastic local cheeses. This one in particular is in the Slow Food Presidium and is slightly aged. Cheeses are often featured on antipasti platters or as a dessert. You can also find it at weekly markets and the grocery store in Colmurano. 

Chickpea soup, zuppa di ceci, what to eat in Marche
Chickpea Soup

Chickpea soup (zuppa di ceci) was often consumed by local farm families because chickpeas were cultivated locally and they could be stored for a year. It’s often featured on menus and is really delicious. Sometimes prosciutto is added but usually it’s a vegetarian dish. 

Gnocchi with Duck Ragu is typically slow cooked in a sauce of red wine, tomatoes, and herbs until the duck meat falls from the bones. Fresh potato gnocchi are folded into the sauce. It’s especially popular around our nearby area, especially the Abbadia di Fiastra. 

Carbonara al Tartufo, Carbonara with Truffles, what to eat in marche
Carbonara al Tartufo

Truffles with anything. The Marche is internationally underrated for our truffles but we have both white and black varieties, which makes our truffle season longer. If fresh truffles are available you will see them on menus (tartufo). My favorite is truffles shaved on top of carbonara. 

Buon appetito! 

The Best Outdoor Activities in the Marche

View of Colmurano from Casa Pace e Gioia
View of Colmurano from Casa Pace e Gioia. Photo by Heather von Bargen

Our holiday home, Casa Pace e Gioia, is the perfect place to nurse your Covid hangover. Nestled on a hilltop in the Italian Marche countryside, our private sanctuary is the ideal place to enjoy fresh air, plentiful sunshine, and amazing views. 

Our area also boasts an abundance of outdoor activities that make the most of our mountains, sea, and midland hills. And you can partake in them safely while social distancing. Here are some ideas to consider.

Cycling in the Marche
Photo courtesy of Turismo Marche

Land

Le Marche’s reputation as a cycling destination is well deserved. But you don’t need to be an expert to pedal up our hills. E-bike rentals make the ascent easier. Mountain and racing bike rentals are also readily available, and we have a lot of information on local routes if you want to set out on your own. Or meet the locals with a guide who can steer you to insider places. Organized cycle tours are conducted in accordance with Covid protocols. 

If you prefer walking, the nearby Abbadia di Fiastra has several well-maintained paths that traverse a variety of environments and are kid friendly. Just up the road from our house, Colmurano has a walking and biking path along the main road and is a popular place for an evening stroll. 

Just a half-hour away, in Sarnano, the 6 kilometer Path of the Lost Waterfalls connects 3 waterfalls (two of which were just uncovered in 2020) not far from the historic center and is suitable for children. Also 30 minutes away, the Valle dei Grilli in San Severino Marche, is a mostly flat walking path immersed in nature to the Caves of Sant Eustachio, which houses an abandoned church carved into the rock. 

Trekking Monte Sibilla. Things to do outside in the Marche
Photo courtesy of Turismo Marche

Themed guided walks throughout the region are offered with social distancing. These inexpensive excursions are a great way to let locals introduce you to our area’s treasures and breathtaking views. Think: a full moon night hike in the Sibillini; photo walks with other photography enthusiasts; a hike to the top of Monte Conero with a celebratory aperitivi; sunset hikes to the balcony of the Sibillini where you enjoy local wines and food; organized star gazing and meteor watching with an astronomer; wine tasting treks; and even “rivering,” which is trekking in a river in diving suits. 

Hikers have a lifetime of nearby options. The Sibillini Mountains are only a half-hour away from Casa Pace e Gioia and have a stunning amount of marked hiking trails that crisscross diverse environments. You are sure to find one that’s the perfect length and difficulty level. One popular scenic trail starts at Lake Fiastra and then goes to the Red Blades, Le Marche’s version of the Grand Canyon. Another hike leads to a hidden hermitage in the mountains. At least 72 other trails reveal the beautiful treasures of the Sibillini. We have a book of Sibillini hikes with maps at the house. 

If you’d like to explore our area on horseback, several nearby riding clubs offer guided trail rides for all ages. Maneggio Alma is the closest at the Abbadia di Fiastra, but there are several near the water in Civitanova Marche, and some towards the mountains. 

 Golfers can play Conero Golf Club’s 18-hole, par 71 championship course, or their 5-hole, par 17 executive course. Club rentals are available, so you don’t have to pack yours. The highly rated course is conveniently located just off the freeway towards Ancona and has wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. 

Water

Conero beach. Outdoor activities in the Marche
Photo courtesy of Turismo Marche

Hit the beach while social distanced! Typically in the summer, and especially on weekends, Italian beaches are crowded, but this year you’ll get more room with social-distancing measures in place. The Adriatic Beaches are set to open May 1 for an extended season that stretches until Oct. 3. And don’t worry, restaurants will still serve local fresh seafood and chilled white wines outdoors. 

Take to the water and rent a boat! Small inflatables don’t require a nautical license and give you the chance to explore coastal areas that can’t be reached by land. 

Let someone else be the captain and take an excursion on a sail or motorboat. You can charter a private tour or join an already-organized socially distanced outing. Food, drinks, and music will make your day along the Conero coast unforgettable. 

Portonovo – Scoglio della Vela

Prefer something slower paced? Rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards along the coast and at Lake Fiastra and Lake Caccamo. 

Air

Admire our area’s breathtaking views from the sky. Try hang gliding or paragliding! You don’t need to have experience; an instructor can join you. We see paragliders fly near Casa Pace e Gioia frequently. Get a bird’s eye view. 

Go high in the sky in a memorable hot air balloon ride. The pilot will be masked, and the views will be incredible. As always, I’m happy to make suggestions and arrangements for our guests.

Things to do in Le Marche with kids

Le Marche is a fantastic holiday destination for families. With our beaches, mountains, parks, museums, castles, and sights, there is something for everyone of all ages to enjoy. Here are some of our recommendations of things to do with kids.

Parco Archeologico Urbs Salvia and La Rocca 

In nearby Urbisaglia this 40-hectare archeological park is the largest in the area and dates to AD 23. Roman ruins from the first century are spread out over a large area of what used to be a bustling and important Roman city. The amphitheater is remarkably well preserved and very suggestive, surrounded by oaks. The criptoportico’s walls are decorated with vivid first-century frescoes. A walk up the hill takes you past the theater, and reaching the top of the hill, and the city walls of Urbisaglia, you can enter the tunnel of the aqueduct that supplied the city with fresh water. The park often hosts special events for children and the large lawn encourages play. 

The restored medieval castle, La Rocca overlooks Urbisaglia’s piazza and gives children of all ages an amazing view from the walkways and towers. 

The Butterfly Garden of Cessapalombo
Photo courtesy of the Butterfly Garden of Cessapalombo

Il Giardino delle Farfalle di Cessapalombo – The Butterfly Garden of Cessapalombo

Less than 30 minutes from Casa Pace e Gioia this nature park and museum in the Sibillini mountains was created with kids in mind and has more than just butterflies! This large green space has pathways, guided tours, donkeys, a play area, and flowers that attract the butterflies. With advanced reservation you can order a lunch to enjoy at the shaded picnic tables immersed in relaxing nature. 

Lake Fiastra

The Lago di Fiastra is a gem in the Sibillini Mountains, just off the main road. The lake’s clear water reflects the gorgeous scenery. At Verdi Fiastra, you can lounge under umbrellas by the beach or rent canoes, kayaks, and bicycles. The onsite restaurant serves local food with lakefront views. 

Photo courtesy of the Adventure Park Lago di Fiastra

Close by Fiastra Lake is the Adventure Park Lago di Fiastra, a  suspended ropes course and zip-line path through the trees and over the water in the Sibillini Mountain National Park. Suitable for children over 140 cm (4.59 feet), additional activities like archery and orienteering are also available.

Lame Rosse
700800Photo grazie a @berr_ver on Instagram

Also near Lago di Fiastra is the hiking trail to the Lame Rosse, a stunning red canyon that appears in the midst of an oak forest. The “Red Blades” are pinnacles of gravel, clay, and silt, formed by the wind and rain that blows through the area. The 7-kilometer round trip path starts at the parking lot near the dam and is rated easy. 

The Frasassi Caves

The Grotte of Frisassi
Photo by Federico Stella, courtesy of Regione Marche

The Grotte di Frasassi is the largest cave system in Europe and among the largest in the world. Its stunning raw beauty matches its size; the first room, the Ancona Abyss, could contain the Duomo of Milan. A guided tour takes you on an easy 1500-meter-long walkway that wends through a variety of caverns with lakes, stalactites, stalagmites, and crystal formations. 

Photo courtesy of Regione Marche

Very near the the Grotte di Frasassi is the Sanctuary of Madonna di Frasassi, which dates to 1029, and the Temple of Valadier, an octagonal church commissioned by the pope in 1828. The shimmering temple is made of white local travertine and inside a cave! It is a 750 meter walk uphill from the parking lot where you can fill your water bottle for the climb. 

The Abbadia di Fiastra

The Natural Reserve of the Abbadia di Fiastra is very close to Casa Pace e Gioia and is a large, well-maintained park with good parking, restrooms, and shaded walking trails in a variety of natural environments with plenty of benches. The Sensory Trail is designed for those with limited mobility or limited vision and is optimized for sound, touch, and smell. The abbey church, monastery, and cloisters are worth a visit and host the Farm, Wine, and Archeological museums. Large lawns invite running and picnics. Several onsite restaurants, (one has a playground and farm animals) ensure that you can easily spend a fun day at the park! 

La Cascata del Mulino
La Cascata del Mulino. Photo by Heather von Bargen

Hidden Waterfalls

In Sarnano, a borghì più belli d’Italia (one of the most beautiful villages in Italy) the access trail to reach the charming waterfalls of the old mill just reopened. In Italian, il Percorso Cascata del Mulino. Park by the municipal pool and sports park on Via del Colle and follow the posted signs that bring you to a small but suggestive area with shallow water and a lovely waterfall. 

The Adriatic Beaches

The beaches of Civitanova Marche are only 30 minutes away! The Lungomare Nord has shallower water and sandier beaches than the Sud and rocky outcroppings give bigger children something to jump from. If the kids tire of swimming, many beach establishments have playgrounds. All of the balneari have food available and umbrellas and beach chairs for rent.