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Review of Casal dei Fichi, Le Marche, Italy

Reviews
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Posted by Yvonne Gordon at 02:14 on Wednesday 29 June 2011

>> For contact details and to check availability, see our full listing of: Casal dei Fichi

Yvonne Gordon visits a beautiful apartment away from the bustle of the city in Le Marche, Italy.

Relax at Casal dei Fichi and admire the lush countryside and pretty flowers. Photo: Yvonne GordonRelax at Casal dei Fichi and admire the lush countryside and pretty flowers. Photo: Yvonne Gordon

The accommodation
Casal dei Fichi is a traditional brick farmhouse in the beautiful Le Marche region of Italy, which is between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennines. The house was restored by the owners, Bob and Ian, who left their London jobs behind six years ago to follow their dream to set up eco-friendly, luxury apartments, which they have created in a peaceful countryside setting. The fields of sunflowers are in full bloom when I arrive and I cannot take my eyes off the views of rolling hills, topped with medieval towns like Monte San Petrangeli, in the distance. It is so perfect it almost looks like a painting – and there is even an artist painting the view.

There are six spacious one- and two-bedroom apartments, each named after famous people from Le Marche. I stayed in Orsini which is luxuriously furnished and has original timber beams. Apartments have TVs, DVDs and stereos and some have fireplaces. Outside, there’s a 15m pool, landscaped gardens, and each apartment has a private garden or terrazzo. The only sounds are birdsong or the hum of insects, with the odd rooster call or echo of church bells across the valley. It’s a great place to escape the buzz of the city or daily life. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll enjoy meeting Hattie and Balzo too, who most guests want to adopt.

Enjoy the glorious sun in the pool with terrific views of the countryside. Photo: Yvonne GordonEnjoy the glorious sun in the pool with terrific views of the countryside. Photo: Yvonne GordonThe activities
The best ‘activity’ is to relax under the vine-covered pergola at the pool and just enjoy the views. The region does have plenty to offer though. I went to the morning market in Mogliano for a glimpse into life in a walled hilltop town. Other guests go to the beach for the day (the Adriatic is a half hour drive) and two guests I met loved a day trip to a lake in the Sibillini Mountains. The hosts can organise cookery classes, wine tastings, truffle hunts and there are always village festivals in summer. There are plenty of local walks, plus a badminton net, free WiFi and a DVD library on site.

The food 
Kitchens are fully equipped, even with a cookbook of Italian recipes. Guests can pick herbs, vegetables and fruit from the garden and the local village, Francavilla d’Ete (2km), has a bakery, flour mill, butcher and grocer. Local produce includes meats, cheeses, olive oil, lentils and truffles. Each apartment has an outdoor dining space and there’s a barbecue area. Monday is Pizza night, where Bob and Ian invite all the guests to make pizzas in the original wood-fired outdoor oven. It’s a nice way to meet people in the other apartments. The area also has plenty of restaurants.

A young guest waiting for his delicious pizza on Pizza Night. Photo: Yvonne GordonA young guest waiting for his delicious pizza on Pizza Night. Photo: Yvonne GordonWhat makes it green
Casal dei Fichi was designed as environmentally-friendly accommodation so it has lots of green credentials. The owners don’t preach to guests but they can offer advice. Apartments don’t have air conditioning but bedrooms are on the cooler side of the building, fly screens allow windows to be open at night and shutters provide ventilation. A fan is also supplied.

To reduce food miles, as well as growing vegetables and fruit, olive oil is from the trees and eggs are from the chickens. Waste is either composted or recycled. Reusable shopping bags and glass wine/water bottles are supplied. Water from a well feeds the garden and septic tanks provide nutrients for the soil. Tap water is drinkable and both hot water and the pool are heated by solar panels. Appliances and light bulbs are energy-efficient and most of the laundry is line-dried. The owners have committed to the 10:10 initiative, to cut carbon emissions each year, and have planted 120 trees including 60 olive trees.

How to get there by public transport 
Train from London to Bologna or train to Milan, then from either station to Civitanova Marche and another to Corridonia, 15km from the house. There is little public transport in the area. Bikes are available but the area is quite hilly. Ancona is an hour away and Pescara and Rimini are around 90 minutes away. The owners ask guests who are hiring cars to choose economical models.

Top tip
Don’t buy too much fruit and veggies – check with the owners what’s in season in the garden first. Each apartment comes with olive oil, a litre of local wine and fresh eggs. For more wine, borrow a demi-john (five-litre jar) from Bob and Ian and fill it at the local La Murola vineyard. It is reasonably priced and you are not buying glass bottles which have to be recycled. Tap water is also drinkable.

The verdict 
This is a relaxed, easy-going place and a great escape from the buzz of the city. The apartments are well equipped and there’s plenty to see in the area, but make time to enjoy the stunning countryside setting too. It’s no surprise that many guests return for the relaxed atmosphere and unspoilt traditional Italian countryside – two couples staying during my visit had been before, one of them six times.

Wake up to this impressive view of endless countryside. Photo: Yvonne GordonWake up to this impressive view of endless countryside. Photo: Yvonne Gordon

>> For contact details and to check availability, see our full listing of: Casal dei Fichi

>> See all our Green places to stay in Italy

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