After an incredible week exploring the Le Marche region of Italy I finally returned home to Cortona. It was bittersweet – happy see my little dog, Henri, but my apartment felt overwhelming empty without Maddy and Sam. I find myself going to check to see if Sam is STILL sleeping and automatically picking up items for them at the grocery. I know many of you these past weeks have felt this same emptiness with your own children heading off to college. It is a difficult adjustment, but knowing how much they are enjoying their respective schools makes it a bit more bearable.
Fortunately, I have wonderful friends here to catch up with over coffee or vino in the piazza, a last-minute trip to Capalbio, and a visit to Florence to tour a potential hotel for clients. And, most importantly, I have stayed quite busy with new clients. One in particular became a bit tricky navigating the new rules and restrictions for traveling to Italy. Luckily, it all went our way and they have been happily exploring Rome, Tuscany and Venice this week.
As a reminder, I plan travels for more than just Europe. If you are planning an island escape, a ski trip, or holiday travels send me a note. I can assist with every component of your trip including keeping you update-to-date on current travel rules.
Located on the eastern coast of Italy and bordering Tuscany is the region of Le Marche. Even though it is less than a two hour drive from my home this was my first time exploring the area. I completely fell in love – the people, the rolling hills, the quaint hilltop villages, and the beautiful shoreline. There is a peaceful quiet that emanates here, a quieter version of Tuscany one could say. As you drive the small roads amongst the hillsides covered in golden fields and rows of vines full of fruit, you see in each direction another well-preserved village just waiting to be explored.
In addition to exploring the villages and beaches, we visited two wineries sampling local varietals including Pecorino. Have you ever heard of the Pecorino grape? Me neither! A prominent varietal in the area it makes for a lovely and very enjoyable white wine. And no, it has absolutely nothing to do with the cheese. They believe the name derives from the Italian word “pecora” meaning sheep. As the grapes grow in the mountains the sheep grazing here often ate them.
From a far distance this particular town dominates the landscape with its formidable walls and massive church dome. We discovered through a quick google search that its claim to fame is the Sanctuary of Loreto where the Santa Casa della Vergine Maria (Shrine of the Holy House of Mary) is preserved. According to tradition this is the house that the Virgin Mary was born, raised, and where she received the Annunciation. The three stone walls that enclosed a rock cavern creating her home, were brought to Italy during the crusades in 1294.
Located just 93 miles south of Florence the coast of Capalbio stretches for 7 miles along the Tuscan Mediterranean. This rugged area features long stretches of beaches with white and black sand, coves protected by small dunes, and dark blue water. The La Dogana di Capalbio Beach Club offers a quiet oasis with chair and umbrella rentals on the uncrowded beach and a full restaurant featuring seasonal delights throughout the day. The comfy bar area is the perfect place to enjoy a morning cappuccino or an aperitivo at sunset. For those who wish to extend their stay there are stylish glamping tents tucked away next to the beach club.
The great cities of Rome, Florence and Venice offer treasures untold, but there is so much more to be discovered in this beautiful country. Let this guide inspire you to travel off the beaten path to discover the soul of Italy.