sub but

night CDF -9369
For many arriving in Marche their first thought is – “it’s even more beautiful than the pictures”. When guests say it about Casal dei Fichi then, of course, it’s a huge compliment but it made us realise that maybe our photos could be better. So when professional photographer Katy Donaldson offered her services we bit cheeky katyher hand off. Well we would have except that one handed photography is career restricting.

It’s hardly surprising that Katy and her family have a holiday home close to us, Marche is a photographer’s dream. The gorgeous countryside makes it hard to take a bad shot but to really portray its depth and beauty is the sign of a true pro.

Combining an interior shot with those views through the windows is incredibly difficult for mere mortals to achieve, especially when the sun is shining. So when Katy arrived with her friend and design guru Philippa, we were slightly disappointed that it was a beautiful sunny day though it did mean that Katy could get straight to work capturing the pool in the early morning light.


Never having done a photo shoot before we had simply no idea how much work is involved and by the evening we were physically exhausted from plumping cushions, picking flowers, moving sofas there, no there, no there. Katy’s meticulous eye, “take that notice board down, I don’t like that bowl, lose this clutter, find a bar of soap that doesn’t look like butter, call that straight???…” kept us busy for 10 hours. We did stop for lunch of course, this is Italy after all. As we moved on we left each perfectly cleaned apartment looking like a bombsite.


But Katy’s alpha precision and Philippa’s great sense of colour, co-ordination and style, as well as humour, have created beautiful images and made it all rewarding.


We are absolutely delighted with the results and now look forward to hearing our guest say “WOW! – it really is as beautiful as the photographs.”CDF-9314 comp

sub but

blog groupYou don’t want to rush things in Italy, a key lesson for assimilating and fitting in like a local. So after many years deliberating we have decided to confront our narcissism and launch a Blog.

Here goes: The Casal dei Fichi 10th anniversary Blog. That’s 10 years since we moved to this beautiful part of Italy, nearly 12 since we first saw the house, 11 and a bit since we bought it and slightly less since, over a wonderful lunch in Rome, the name Casal dei Fichi was coined and blessed not only by the waiters but crucially by our friend and still sometimes teacher Diego’s mother. No Italian ever makes a decision without phoning Mamma.

blog maria

To celebrate we invited some of the people who have helped to make our life here so successful and so much fun. We are proud to be about the only foreigners we know who are still friendly with their builders, so father and son team Rosario and Fabio had to be there along with Rosario’s wife Anna who fed us on many occasions, welcoming us into their family at Christmases and holidays. Add Maria and family who not only invite us for more superb meals and when we say, sorry my Mum is visiting replies “bring her along, and her 3 friends, we’re only 16 already”.

Internationally know artist Piero Principi’s culinary generosity to us has been more restaurant orientated, not to mention a magnificent piece of his art which he gave us on our civil partnership. So last Sunday lunchtime we all sat down to a long long lunch to mark the event.

We prepared a selection of dishes that I’d never made before from Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”; it seems that Ottolenghi is as well known in Francavilla d’Ete as he is in Islington. Plates were cleared and we learnt that in this part of Italy Jerusalem artichoke is known as Girasole selvatico.

After many hours our guests left following toasts of “to the next 10 years” oh yes – and more.