Marche & Abruzzo - Discovery the hearth of Italy

Carsoli - Offida - Ascoli Piceno - Montefiore dell’Aso - Civitella del Tronto - Rocca Calascio - Santo Stefano di Sessanio

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We are in the heart of Italy and this area is full of unkwown and great gems that are worth a visit by those who really want to discover the secrets of our country! This is a 1 week tour that will put you in contact with local producers and operators that will let you fall in love with central Italy cuisine, far from the most famous mass tourist destinations.

Day 1: From Rome to Le Marche
Arrival at the airport of Rome and greeting with our driver and guide. We get on the van in order to reach The Boutique Hotel Magnolia. During our trail to reach Le Marche, we will stop by at “Rossella Restaurant” in Carsoli. This is already a great first culinary day since GrandMa Rossella is not used to hosting international clients as tourists but as big friends..and lunch is incredible. After lunch we get back on the minivan and go directly to the Boutique Hotel Magnolia where we will be hosted by Mrs Sandra in her amazing farmhouse! Here we will have a welcome drink and dinner! Overnight.

In the heart of the Marches, in the magnificent valleys surrounding Montefiore dell' Aso, you will find the Boutique Hotel Magnolia. Here you will enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside and the enchantment of suggestive landscapes. You can watch a spectacular sun rise from the sea or a full moon shining high above the walls of an ancient Roman village. Set in a renovated abandoned farmhouse, Hotel Magnolia is nestled in a beautiful hillside estate that houses the prestigious  Domodimonti Winery, an extra privilege for the connaisseur of wine culture or a novice. Once you arrive at Hotel Magnolia, let the staff take care of all your needs. Our ambition is to make your stay unforgettable.At 1,200 metres above sea level and only a stone’s throw away from the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga national park in the Apennine Mountains, Santo Stefano di Sessanio is a well-kept secret. All around is the incredible beauty of the Abruzzese landscape – reminiscent of New Zealand or maybe Patagonia, but with mountain peaks as high as the Alps.

Day 2 – Around incredible villages.
Today you will really start your tour to discover the secrets of this amazing area! The driver will pick you up at 9.30 am and bring you to the splendid ancient village of Offida, one of the top 10 most beautiful small villages in Italy. After the guided tour we will have a first wine tasting at a local famous winery of Offida, famous for its Rosso Piceno Superiore and Pecorino! At the end of the wine tasting we will get on the minivan to reach the beautiful city of Ascoli Piceno where we will have an incredible fish lunch at the historical Trattoria del Corso where Mr Antonio has been the unique chef (even he says his owner is always her wife!) for the last 50 years! After the end of lunch we have a great tour of the city it of Ascoli Piceno. After the tour we go back home and we have dinner tonight at the hotel. Overnight stay.

It is a town of lace makers. It has one of Italy’s finest churches, its interior awash in frescoes dating from the 13th century. Some of Italy’s best and lesser known white wines are grown just outside the city limits—and the Piazza al Popolo is full of great architecture, including one of those old, 19th century theaters, cute as a bugs ear, responsible for entertaining the population before the discovery of radio waves. There are museums of all kinds, including a lace museum, and they’re all inside the same building! Let’s start at Santa Maria della Rocca The Romanesque/Gothic church was built in 1330 over a pre-existing Benedictine church. What’s interesting is that the crypt is where you find yourself when you enter the front door; upstairs is the church. Along the Corso Serpente Aureo you’ll find a shop belonging to an association of lace makers where we made a short video of the process of making the local Merletto a Tombolo, called bobbin or pillow lace in English. You can also see evidence of the handicraft at the Lace Museum down the street, marked on the map. We were also able to talk to a person making lace in the doorway of her home. Lace making may be a dying craft, but it’s dying slowly in Offida. Just down the Corso Serpente Aureo from the association’s shop, there is a great restaurant called Osteria Ophis, serving local specialties. We had the tasting menu and were very pleased with it. You might have caught on by now, but the town is awash in names meaning “snake”, il serpente aureo (“golden snake”) recurs again and again in place names of the town and the name of the restaurant, ophis, is the Greek word for “snake”. It’s likely that

The town of Ascoli Piceno is a place you can see in only one day, but remember for a lifetime. Along with its breathtaking main square, it has other outstanding sights that manage to leave their mark on even the most blase' of tourists. Start at the Piazza del Popolo, a traffic-free, travertine-paved main square that is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. To one side of the square stands the Palazzo del Popolo, a splendid 13th-century building guarded over by a monumental statue of Pope Paul III. Look inside to see the arcaded Renaissance courtyard. Closing off one end of the piazza is the great Gothic church of San Francesco, a sober but pleasing building both inside and out. And next to the Piazza, make an unforgettable stop at the Caffe' Meletti to taste the celebrated anisetta liquor. The other main square, Piazza Arringo, is flanked by the Duomo, and the town hall, or Palazzo Comunale. Inside here you will find the Pinacoteca Civica, Ascoli's art gallery. On the northern side of town, one of two Franciscan cloisters becomes the town's busy, colorful market in the mornings. The street in front of San Francesco is the center of activity in Ascoli, the Via del Trivio. Follow it north to Ascoli's oldest and prettiest neighborhoods, on the cliffs above the Tronto valley. It's also here on the northern side that you'll find most of the city's surviving towers. On the western entrance to town, on Corso Mazzini, you will see a small Roman gate, the Porta Gemina, dating back to the first century AD. On the fringes of the city, other Roman remains are everywhere. Just south of the Porta Gemina, on Via Angelini, there are traces of the Roman Theater. From here, Via Ricci leads up to the Parco della Rimembranza, with two medieval churches of the Annunziata and Sant'Angelo Magno. Finally, there's San Gregorio Magno, built over a Roman temple of Vesta, just behind Ascoli's town hall in Piazza Arringo.

Day 3 – Wine and relax
The Boutique Hotel Magnolia is also a winery and this is why this morning, after we wake up we will go directly to the winery for a great wine tour of the “Domodimonti Winery! After the end of the tour we go to visit the restaurant of GrandMa Silvana. She does not have a website and no tourists know her..but she’s probably the best cook in the world!!! Her delicacies are simply unforgettable for everyone that go to visit her place! After lunch you will only want to have some rest at the hotel before we go to visit a city close to beach for a walking tour along the seaside. We will here meet Sigismondo, owner of “La Degusteria del Gigante”, who will show us how the fish market works here in the Marche Region. We will then go for a show cooking and a great dinner with him. Back to the hotel and overnight.

This is a boutique winery located in the picturesque countryside of Montefiore dell’Aso in the Region of Le Marche, Italy. In 2003, while Francesco and his wife, Marisa, were in Italy, an opportunity came their way to purchase an abandoned “antique cantina” with over thirty hectares of vineyards along with six hectares of olive groves. The idea of producing their own "Natural Wine" in the region where they were born was to realize a dream. Not satisfied with the "antique cantina", their new state-of-the-art winery, was inaugurated in 2010. Producing Natural Wines for us means the Love and the Respect we have for our Land and for the people who share our journey, who become emotional and passionate about our wines. It is for this reason that we dedicate our time and efforts to bring to the wine glass what nature gives us. In our “style” we want to give you a sensory experience without limits.

Day 4 – Let’s visit Abruzzo
This morning we change region and, after leaving Le Marche, we go straight towards the Abruzzo region. We will visit the splendid Civitella del Tronto Castle, famous all over the world for its importance in the italian history and we will then go for our third winery tasting experience before going to have a lunch on own in Pescara. After that we will go to the other 4 star hotel where we’re staying for the next couple of days..the stunning Castello Di Chiola. After check-in in and relax we have a welcome dinner in this amazing Castle! Back to the hotel and overnight.

The magic and splendor of over a thousand year of history welcome you in the extraordinary setting of Castello Chiola: a prestigious residence located on one of the most beautiful and picturesque villages of Abruzzo, Loreto Aprutino, a medieval manor restructured that stands there proud and impressive on the top of the hill and it houses works of art of the Abruzzo masters in unique and sumptuous surroundings Inside, suites and precious rooms, banquet halls and banquet rooms, a court the real soul of the Castle, ideal setting for meetings, art installations, exclusive presentations and parties, and Antico Torchio, restaurant à la carte, where delicious gourmet dishes are served. The outdoor swimming pool overlooks a natural setting that leaves you breathless. Stay at the Castello Chiola means to live a multisensory experience, enjoy the sight thanks to the natural and artistic beauties that are the heritage of the area where it stands.

Day 5 – Olive and beer tour
This morning we have a great meeting with Mario, a local olive producer which will explain us all the secrets of his products! We will have a tour and a quick lunch, before going to visit a local brewery and back to the hotel for dinner on own and relax. Overnight.

Day 6 – Nature and History
This morning we will go for a simple walk experience that will bring us to visit the stunning and famous “Rocca Calascio”, where the movie “Lady Hawke” was shot. After the tour we have a lunch in the splendid Santo Stefano in Sessanio ancient village! After the tour we go to Sulmona, a splendid beautiful Roman town where we will stay for the last night and for the farewell dinner!

Rocca Calascio is a small town in the Province of L'Aquila City, between the villages of Santo Stefano di Sessanio and Castel del Monte. Behind it, you can admire the beautiful landscape of the Campo Imperatore's Upland and in front of it, you can admire the wonders of the Majella and Sirente Mountains. On the top of the mountain, at an altitude of 1.460 meters above the sea, Rocca Calascio is the highest town of Central Italy. Rocca Calascio was founded during the Roman Age, when the Romans built a sighting turret on the top of the mountain (where the Castle is today), to control their land possessions. In this way, the Romans could guarantee security and tranquility to population. During the Medieval Age, the people built their houses closeby, near the top of the mountain, as a large defensive wall, and the Castle was erected on the top. The first attestation of Rocca Calascio is in a document from 1380. With this document, Charles III from Durazzo assigned the towns of Baronage of Carapelle (Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Castelvecchio, Rocca Calascio villages) to Peter from Celano. In 1418, the Baronage of Carapelle was a Iacovella property. She was Count Nicola's daughter and Leonello Accolmazora's wife. When Leonello died, his son Ruggero imprisoned his mother Lacovella and seized Rocca Calascio. Rocca Calascio and the Baronage of Carapelle were liberated by the Pope Pio II's (Enea Piccolomini) army and were assigned to Antonio Piccolomini, Pope Pio II's nephew. Antonio built defensive walls around the small town of Rocca Calascio and built four circular turrets around its Castle. In this way, the Castle became as impressive and spectacular as you can admire it today.

In the quiet Abruzzo region of central Italy is an old and characterful sixteenth-century village with the name Santo Stefano di Sessanio. Here the massive, ancient stones speak volumes, and narrow passageways and porticos-with-stairs open onto sun drenched piazzettas or a labyrinth of alleyways. Some of the houses are barely still standing. At 1,200 metres above sea level and only a stone’s throw away from the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga national park in the Apennine Mountains, Santo Stefano di Sessanio is a well-kept secret. All around is the incredible beauty of the Abruzzese landscape – reminiscent of New Zealand or maybe Patagonia, but with mountain peaks as high as the Alps The quintessential villages of Abruzzo are all too often abandoned to the hands of fate. Young people move away so only an older generation remains; and slowly but surely the villages become dominated by uninhabited houses, deserted squares and empty benches. This was the case in Santo Stefano di Sessanio – until 1999 that is, when Swedish-Italian maverick and millionaire Daniele Kihlgren rode into town. He was on a solo motorbike tour and, as an idealist, felt compelled to do something about this sad situation. Kihlgren started out buying one house in Santo Stefano; he quickly followed that with another ten, acquiring plots of no less than 4,000 square metres from various owners who had let their houses go to rack and ruin. He made a deal with local government officials to preserve Santo Stefano and restore it to its original state: no new houses and a ban on the use of concrete. And, in exchange, Kihlgren would invest the considerable sum of around 4.5 million euros (a combination of personal and borrowed funds) to give the village a new lease on life. In 2004, five years after Kihlgren first wandered the streets of Santo Stefano, the village was ready to begin its new life. Kihlgren enlisted the help of big names including architect David Chipperfield, who also supports the concept of conservative restoration. The project was a new concept in the hotel business: Albergo Diffuso now consists of hotel rooms spread over 32 restored houses in the existing village.

Day 7 – End and back to Rome
This morning we will go for a simple walk thru Sulmona before going back to Rome where we will arrive tonight! Dinner at the hotel and overnight.

Day 8 – End of the services