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Now that most people are about to have, or maybe have already had their summer holiday it may be time to line something up to see you through the autumn. Something to make those Monday mornings bearable.

Coming at the end of October when the weather is usually still very pleasant our Gourmet Breaks are a great way to get away for a few days of delicious indulgence. From the minute we meet you at the airport you can switch off and leave everything to us, we’ll take care of all the driving, menu selecting and ordering. Though if you have particular dietary requirements or preferences, we’ll make sure they are provided, vegetarian and vegans gladly catered for, or if you’d just like some more of that delicious pudding or wine – it’s no problem.

On the last morning as you head home you will wonder how you managed to do so much in 4 days yet still feel as if you’ve had a relaxing break. From the magnificent Sibillini mountains to the dramatic Conero coastline, wine tasting in the beautiful golden vineyards to seeing the olive harvest being processed in the brand new press, you will enjoy a fascinating insight into Marche and its delicious and varied cuisine.

We still have availability from 27 to 30 October when the weekend starts at Perugia airport. Passing Assisi we take you straight to the heart of the mountains for a gentle walk with the cutest truffle dog and you can watch her expertly and gently unearth the precious tubers. Lunch at a quirky local restaurant features fresh mountain produce with those very truffles.

For a sample itinerary please see

Maybe it’s because of the amazing weather we’ve been having but other people are planning even further ahead. Many of our regular guests have asked us to book them in for next year. If you think you might be planning a visit to Casal dei Fichi in 2018 then please bear in mind that we are pretty heavily booked for June and July and August is starting to fill up too. We hate to disappoint people, particularly our loyal guests, and just wanted to make sure we’d let you know.

Finally, for those who aren’t able to plan ahead, we do have some space in late September and October this year, so if you are looking for some late summer sun our pool will still be open and is solar heated.

Enjoy the rest of the summer.


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Not a complaint you hear often and not one we make seriously. It’s just that the winter is when we have all those jobs which we are meant to do during those endless months and now, our first guests are here and we keep on thinking how much easier it would have been had we had a few more weeks or days, or even hours to get everything ship-shape.

But we made it, well just about. Being on hand at Casal dei Fichi means, of course, that travel is practically impossible when guests are here. So our closed months are when we catch up with friends and family and spend some time in London to get our exhibition and theatre fix.


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Spuma, eager to hunt

Once again November saw the end of the season here at Casal dei Fichi with our gourmet weekend breaks. Loosely themed around the olive harvest we always try to vary them slightly from year to year, to introduce new places and experiences that we have discovered and provide a bit of variety to our regular visitors. As Perugia airport is now so easily accessible we began the first weekend by meeting our guests there. With an hour to fill before lunch we stopped on the Marche / Umbria border for a walk in the beautiful countryside through the Sibillini mountains where, in a glade of oaks, Cristine and Danielle from La Cerqua explained the basics of truffle hunting, ably assisted by their delightful Lagotto Romangnolo pedigree “truffle hound” Spuma. Soon she started scratching around the trees and found some tiny tubers – the training and instinct clearly paying off. Later from the denser undergrowth she proudly emerged with one, and then another, black truffle.

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The historic city of Assisi

Although across the border from Marche you have to admit that Umbria has its fair share of lovely towns: Spoletto, Gubbio, Orvietto and Todi, to name but a few. And whilst there is certainly no denying its beauty, Umbria is the only region on the Italian peninsular which is totally landlocked.
Now however eastern Umbria finds itself an hour closer to the coast. It is true that the Adriatic is slowly edging inland, in the time that we have been here we have seen houses succumb to its advances. That might have shortened the journey time by a few seconds.

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macerata norma

The chorus against the medieval walls in Norma.

macerata sferisterio boxes

A box gives a good view of the stage, handy for people watching too.

One of the highlights of our summer is the Macerata Opera Festival. Every July and August three productions, generally of Grand Opera are staged in the magnificent Sferisterio Opera House. Built originally for the game bracciale, where a ball was played against a long stretch of the ancient city walls using menacing spiked gauntlets, the building is now used for more urbane purposes.

We like to book a box with 4 friends and enjoy the spectacle with a civilising drop of prosecco which you are welcome to bring into the building. This year we attended Norma, above, and Il Trovatore whose gloomy plot is made cheerful by Verdi’s lively music.



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obi 1

Aren’t I cute?

Hello, or as Bob and Ian say to me Hell-Obi, or Hell-Obi dobey doo. I think they are being friendly. Though life is so confusing for a little dog. Although Bob and Ian had hoped to revisit the dog rescue centre to help out, it is quite a way from Casal dei Fichi and they have been very busy. So their return visit was driven by the sad loss of my predecessor, Hattie.  When first we met I was just 6 weeks old and caged up with my abandoned siblings and Mum, they seemed a good bet so I nuzzled my way to the front and impressed myself on the puppy selection entourage. I was marked down as reserved and 3 weeks ago, when I was 12 weeks old, I moved to my new home at Casal dei Fichi.




dogs jamie

Me and Jakes with our new best mate.

WOW. Life at the kennel was kind, we were well fed, cleaned, exercised and loved. But nobody ever told us about the great big world outside. Within hours of arriving I found myself at my first pizza party, so many people wanting to cuddle me and give me just a few scraps. Since then I have been on walks, swam in the sea, travelled in an open top sports car and met more people than I ever imagined existed, all of whom have been kind and gentle to me, as well as a few more pizza parties, I don’t tell anyone about the scraps.


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We were delighted to see that the famous British chef Rick Stein chose Bologna for one of his weekend breaks as it is one of our favourite Italian cities. Of course Marche has its share of beautiful small cities like Ascoli Piceno, Fermo, Macerata and Urbino, each with historic architecture, magnificent squares, fascinating galleries, world class opera etc., but none of them have that big city cosmopolitan buzz.

bologna maggiore

Boasting Europe’s oldest university Bologna is a beautiful historic city and the still thriving student population ensures that it has a vibrant feel. At weekends the city centre is closed to traffic accommodating  street food, street entertainment  and street art. The shops and markets prove that this is a city that loves its food, the freshest and finest ingredients are all beautifully displayed in the maze of narrow streets which make up the historic centre. Its nickname (one of many) may be Bologna the Fat but you cannot say that about the majority of the population, clearly in moderation top quality and fresh food make for stylish healthy living.


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spider hattie

Always ready to jump in for an adventure

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Hattie was the dog you expected to live for ever. As long as she was breathing her trademark curved plume of a tail would wag and her face seemed fixed in a happy smile. So we couldn’t believe it when just a week ago on her regular daily walk she fell victim to barbaric poison put down to kill foxes.



We know nothing of Hattie’s pedigree, the black and white markings and those soft pert ears which flopped over so endearingly, as well as her gentle disposition, suggested Border Collie. Though her size, feisty temperament and determination – particularly for digging in the wrong places – made us think she had some terrier in her, maybe Jack Russell.

tiny hattie

Showing off her trademark tail

As a 5 month cat and dogsold pup she soon got the measure of young Balzo making him pursue her in loops up and down walls until he lay exhausted. A huge fan of nuts she would take the fallen walnuts up to our apartment and cracking open the shell, leaving all of the detritus on Balzo’s bed. Though in later years when the big farm dogs would turn on blind Balzo she wouldn’t hesitate to defend him, chasing off the attackers and snapping at their legs. Now she lies alongside her old friend.

Less instinctively gregarious than Balzo, Hattie was a more loyal dog, and whilst happy to chat to the guests would return to us. After lunch it was almost impossible to sit on the sofa before she had jumped onto one of our laps for her afternoon cuddle. Though she did soon learn that guests mean scraps and she was often sat near the garden tables not actually scrounging but making it plain that if anything came her way it wouldn’t be wasted. Barbeques became a favourite of hers and if more than one was grilling she would run back and forth checking when the coals would be ready and a surplus sausage might go her way.

Wary at first of Jakes they soon bonded and Hattie enjoyed company on those longer walks which had been too much for Balzo in later years. Right up to the end she ran around with the agility of a goat and the speed of a greyhound, exhausting the young dog.


It wasn’t possible to look at Hattie and not smile, her cheeky face always looked so happy, now we have to rely on memories to make us smile. Luckily, like so many of our guests, we have plenty of those.


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mymarca blog comp

It’s the end of the season at Casal dei Fichi and, as usual, we have finished it off by running our gourmet breaks. This time of year we run our long weekends where we meet people from the airport and escort them to a selection of our favourite venues in Marche. This year we were delighted to run 3 weekends all for people who have been before or their friends who they brought with them. To demonstrate that they didn’t just get lucky on their previous visit we have been busy researching new restaurants, vineyards, cultural venues and cookery classes.

A popular evening is when Emanuelle from MyMarca comes to Casal dei Fichi to talk about some of the typical Marche produce which he brings with local wines to accompany it. And there’s good news for those who haven’t been able to visit Marche to try these delicacies for themselves, as well as those who have been and would like to taste a bit of Italian sunshine over the winter months. Just visit MyMarca’s online “emporium” where you will find a great range of local Marche food and wines as well as designer items which will they will ship for surprisingly reasonable prices.

As well as some of the delicious Peccorino cheeses and regional salamis like Ciauoscolo or a Porchetta of rolled pork they stock some great wines including our old favourite Umani-Ronchi and newer discoveries like Fattoria le Terrazze or Sant Isodoro.

So if you want some genuine Marche products at Christmas,  a slightly different gift or wines at a fraction of high street prices check them out.


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CRASH!! jake 2

As I sit down to write this a bowl comes tumbling off the coffee table. A small price to pay for having a new puppy at Casal dei Fichi.

Although we went to the pound with the intention of re-homing a sad abandoned dog that would struggle to find a new owner we realised that the restrictions imposed by our business make taking on a dog with an unknown, and potentially troubled history meant that it wasn’t really possible.

Not that there wasn’t plenty of competition, like Mao the lame young retriever who had a paw caught in a hunter’s trap. In a country where dogs are often badly treated it was heartening to see that the nearby pound in Tolentino is clean and the dogs are well cared for with decent runs and caring staff and volunteers.

Since we couldn’t take all 200 home we settled on one. A 4 month old, predominantly border collie, with maybe a bit of spaniel. It is amazing how quickly he has settled in, sleeping all night in the spare bathroom, adapting almost immediately to the outdoor toilet routine, friendly with guests and curious, but gentle with the cats. Hattie is coming to terms with him but she makes it clear who is in charge. It looks as if he is going to fit in very well at Casal dei Fichi, another dog who has landed on his paws.

And as for the other 199 that we left behind, inspired by our friends Di and Ron, we hope to get involved with the pound and help out there so we can check on their progress. There was another black and white pup who we very nearly took as well, hopefully when we return she will have found a good home, if not she may be coming to rejoin her old mate Jake.

Now – where are my shoes???

jake 1

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