The 10 Best Things to do in the Winter in the Marche

The Marche are full of treasures to be discovered, and in the winter those treasures are even easier to find. In winter you’ll find more private tours and guided hikes, personal wine tastings, opportunities to meet local artisans, and a great time to enjoy some of our best regional cuisine.

Marche winters are usually mild, driven by the Adriatic sea and the Sibillini Mountains. Temperatures range from overnight lows of 0° C (32°F) to highs of 18°C (65°). We eat lunch outside regularly in the winter! It may snow, but it does not last long at our elevation. Often morning fog rolls in the valley and clears to blue skies with fabulous views of the snow-covered mountains in the distance.

Winter Food Specialties!

Winter Food Festivals feature seasonal dishes in a fun atmosphere with roasted chestnuts, new harvest wine, polenta, wild boar, winter truffles, tortellini in brodo, and many more winter specialties. Dine in the warmth of large tents and communal tables for an unforgettable authentic and immersive meal.

Likewise, we have some area restaurants that we prefer to go to in the winter for their welcoming ambiance and hearty food. Something about a fireplace in the corner and a steaming plate of pasta or soup warms the soul. If you follow us on social media you know that to me, winter means Cappelletti in Brodo. Really, Cappelletti in Brodo is reason enough to come visit in the winter. As a special treat for our winter guests, Cappelletti in Brodo is on us at any of the restaurants that we recommend in our guest app.

Enjoy the Outdoors!

Admire the holiday decorations in every village. Festive lights adorn the piazze, as do nativity scenes—some of them with live characters! Buy handcrafted gifts or local specialties at the many Christmas markets. On Epiphany, (6 January) watch the witch Befana descend the clock tower to deliver stockings to good girls and boys.

Winter is still a great time to hike the area’s many natural parks. Fall colors still abound into December. And in the winter, you’re treated to waterfalls along your route. Local guides lead organized walks or you can set out on your own with our many suggestions in our guest app.

For winter sports, head to the nearby Sibillini mountains to snowshoe, downhill or cross-country ski, snowboard, or sled. Webcams display conditions and rentals are available at the ski centers. Sarnano and Macerata have outdoor rinks for ice skating.

Winter sales!

If you like to shop, the winter sales (saldi) start around the 5-6 of January every year. Our area in the Marche is full of outlet shops with high-quality goods made in the Marche. In fact, one-third of the shoes made in Italy are made in the Marche. The winter saldi are an incredible opportunity to save even further! We have a map of outlet shops in our guest app and I can recommend several trusted shops nearby.

Food and Wine Tastings!

Our Marche winemakers produce spectacular, under the radar wines. We have a collaboration with the best food and wine tour guide in the Marche, Marco of Marco’s Way, and winter is a fabulous opportunity to take a tour with him to meet small, family-run producers who make wines with soul. Marco will design a tour to your tastes and also introduce you to local food artisans.

Guided Tours!

Winter is a fantastic time to take a guided tour. They are usually €5-15 per person, and are more readily available in the winter. A hiking guide will explain why the tree you’re passing is special. On you own, you would likely walk past it without understanding the significance. The guide at the Abbadia di Fiastra tells you why there are two address placards on the Abbey door. The guide in Urbisaglia points out that the Romans washed blood from Gladiator fights out of an innocuous hole to drain towards the river. We have a list of recommended guides in our guest app.

Enjoy cultural events at the many museums, churches, theaters, and monuments that are open in the winter. It’s opera, exhibition, and concert season, and you’ll be amazed at the wide variety of performances available. From “Sister Act” to gospel choirs, to classical music to pop, there’s something for everyone.

Frasassi Caves
Frasassi Caves

The Frasassi Caves!

Winter is a great time to see the amazing Frasassi Caves, the largest cave system in Europe and the most-visited destination in the Marche. The temperature in the caves is constant at 14°C or 57°F, and without summer crowds, there’s no need for advanced reservations or to wait in long lines to buy tickets.

If you’d like to truly discover a hidden Italy, to feel like a local, then winter is the best time to come stay at Casa Pace e Gioia.

How to Shop Like a Local in Colmurano 

Alessandro, Ivana, and Eleonora
Eleonora, Ivana, and Alessandro

We found the butcher in Colmurano by accident, having parked in front of his shop to use the ATM across the street. Viale de Amicis is the only road that bisects our village, so naturally it is where most of our shops are services are. But there was no “Macelleria” sign on the building. Indeed, there was no sign on the storefront at all. I just happened to see a small placard with opening hours, and peeking through the window, meat in a display case.

Ever since, we visit Alessandro, his mother Ivana, and his wife Eleonora for more than just meat. It’s amazing what they fit into their small store. One of our early favorite discoveries is a “rotolo,” a chicken breast with meatball stuffing, wrapped in guanciale, rolled up and tied. Their mortadella, porchetta, and turkey alla porchetta has fed us sandwich lunches countless times, and they sell delicious local breads too! We also have fun learning what things are in Italian. They make a wonderful “cannoli,” but rather than a sweet dessert from Sicily, this is a roll of prosciutto cotto with mozzarella stuffed with olives. 

When we order meat, Alessandro always asks what we’re using it for, to make sure we get the right cut. Matt has been making a fantastic pork or chicken stir-fry and we told him it was like Chinese food, not knowing the Italian word for stir-fry. Their steaks for grilling are beyond delicious. I was never a big steak eater, but the meat here tastes better. I really appreciate their pre-formed meatballs and their pre-breaded cutlets. It makes kitchen preparation so much faster, especially for my Prosciutto and Fontina cutlets recipe

Most of all, their homemade sausages have become a staple. Matt uses them to make American breakfast, and crumbled on pizza. I use them in an easy and delicious sausage and cream sauce with pasta, in risotto with sausage, in lentil soup, or on skewers with vegetables. We will have many more recipes for you that feature their local meats. 

Macelleria storefront
Macelleria storefront

There still isn’t a “Macelleria” sign. Look for a cream building on the corner across from the bank. The door has beads in it and when you walk through those beads, Alessandro, Ivana, or Eleonora (or all three) will greet you with a smile, a “Ciao” and then “dimmi,” which means, tell me (what you would like). In addition to their extensive selection of meats, they also sell a wide variety of pantry goods, fresh and dried pastas, sauces, beer and wines, excellent local cheeses, and much more. 

Frutta e Verdure
Fruit and Vegetable Store

Francesco and his mother Lorena run the fruit and vegetable store, and they also ask what we’re making with our produce. A tomato for a salad is different than one for a sauce. Of the 3 different types of Radicchio they had, one is better with grilled mortadella and balsamic. Their shop is just down the block on the other side of the street. A “Mercatino della Frutta” sign makes it easy to find. Everything is fresh, almost everything is local, and it’s always reasonably priced. In addition to fruits and vegetables they also sell home-made marinated olives with garlic and orange peel, and farm-fresh eggs. Often they have stuffed and/or breaded vegetables ready to cook. 

Isa's Alimentari
Isa’s Alimentari

Heading back up the street a half-block, Isabella’s Alimentari is on the same side of the street in a green building with a small sign and beads in the doorway. With an impressive selection of items packed in a small space, she’s also a good source for pantry staples, cheeses, and eggs. Matt gets his breakfast cookies here. She is super friendly and often has pre-made meals of lasagna, porchetta, or fish ready to re-heat. 

Down the street below the city walls, I Sette Artigiani is our local bakery, famous throughout the region. They make the best baked goods and also sell pantry staples and local specialties. Their tarts and cookies are amazing. Really, everything is! They are also super friendly and welcoming and can suggest the perfect type of bread for whatever we’re looking for. 

Saputi wines on display

Further down the road is our favorite local winery, Saputi. For everyday drinking, we buy their 5 liter “Bag in Box.” Our favorite is the Rosso Piceno for red and Passerina for white, although they have a variety of wines available in the box. An organic winery, their award-winning bottled wines are impressive. They are famous for their Ribona, a white wine made from a local native grape that is very typical of this area. It’s the wine we selected to gift to our summer guests. It’s local, unique, delicious, and chilled in the refrigerator upon arrival. So when you run out, now you’ll know where to get more! 

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!