Italian experiences

Vineyard visiting (photos coming soon)
The surrounding hills are home to many vineyards from which come fabulous regional wines.  We’ll take you to picturesque vineyards where the owners are only too pleased to let you sample their art and reveal a few secrets of good wine-making.

Hiking in the mountains (see photos)
Be stunned with the grandeur of the Sibilini National Park, steeped in history and legends, on an accompanied hike – guided half-day strolls or even a serious full day clamber up the heights.

For the energetic the magical Lago di Pilato at 6,000′ above sea-level is home to the world’s only lobster which swims upside-down. A further 1,000′ climb to Monte Vettore, the highest peak on the Sibilini range, and you can survey the magnificent scenery all the way from the Adriatic almost to Rome!

If you love legends, then visit Sibyl herself, a prophetess who haunts a hidden cave at the very summit of Monte Sibilla. You won’t be the first – countless knights from across Europe made the epic journey in the hope of gaining a few precious pearls of wisdom.

Or descend into the Gola dell’Infernaccio (Throat of Hell) – a magnificent forest gorge and source of the sparkling River Tenna, along which you can climb over the watershed all the way to Umbria. If you are lucky you might see a wolf!

Opera under the stars (see photo)
An unforgettable evening of opera under the stars.  The Macerata Sferisterio Arena was built as a sports arena 200 years ago.  As such it offers excellent viewing across its 14m stage (not to mention the 10m wings either side) for an audience of 3,000.  Its a spectacular building 88m long – 56 arches separated by columns carrying a double row of boxes.

In 1914 the first operatic performance of Bellini’s ‘Norma’ was an enormous success and paved the way to establishing the Arena as one of Europe’s premier venues for opera, attracting today’s greatest musicians.

Frassasi Caves (virtual tour)
We take a two hour drive to one of the most spectacular sequences of limestone caves anywhere. Incredible stalactite and stalagmite formations loom as you walk through this enchanted subtly lit fairyland. Discovered by accident just 40 years ago, the network burrows deep into the mountains for 25 kms and more – nobody yet knows how far – but only the first two kms have walkways open to the public. The spectacular ‘main hall’ would dwarf St Paul’s Cathedral which could comfortably fit inside!  To protect this fragile environment photography is not allowed so content yourself for now with the virtual tour.

Fly fishing 
With at least 52 indigenous species of fish, Italy’s rivers and lakes are some of the richest in Europe in terms of biodiversity.  We can arrange equipment hire and daily or weekly licenses to fish the sparkling waters of the River Tenna, originating high in the snow fields of the Sibilini Mountains.  Expect to land a typical trout around 1.5 kilos for your dinner.

Art expedition 
Could any visit in Italy be complete without visiting at least one art gallery? Heart-breakingly beautiful art can be found among the frescoes of many local churches, but the ultimate award must go to the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. We’ll guide you through a visual feast of priceless works dating back to 1400 – Tuscan masters such as Giacomo, Jacopo Torriti, Pietro Cavallini, as well as countless others including Girogetti, Martelli, Ottaviano Nelli.

Museum expeditions 
The region is not short of museums either. There are local ones concerned with the unique flora/fauna found in the Sibilini mountains, and a fossil museum in Montefalcone where you can learn how this mountain, 2,500′ high, was once under the sea.  Or for a day trip, we’ll take you to Fabriano, a town of museums and once the centre of paper manufacturing in the Western world. Take a fascinating tour and learn about hand-made papers and watermarks. To follow with something more quirky, how about a bicycle museum?  Lastly, not forgetting you are pianists, we might visit the Accademia dei Musici, a museum of historic pianos, complete with live demonstrations.

Close to the oh-so-pretty Lago di San Ruffino is a riding school with ponies for children as young as 4, and where advanced riders can learn to show-jump.  Alternatively just take a ride around the lake which, depending when you go, may or may not be there!  Known locally as the disappearing lake, every year it shrinks back to the river it originally was. At these times wading birds and other wildlife forage among the fresh green meadows along the river’s shore until slowly the lake refills and reclaims its territory.

Mountain biking
Ask us about bike hire and the incomparable ride around the Grande Anello Sibillini – 120 kms of mountain tracks taking in the entire length of the Sibillini range.  At every stage you will be enthralled by the ever-changing mountain views, across all of Marche, over to Umbria, and beyond to Abruzzo.  As if that were not enough there are countless cycling tracks throughout the hills and mountains nearby, ranging in difficulty from easy to severe.

River rafting
The region is blest with abundant mountain rivers and rafting, kayaking, canyoning, hydro-speeding, are all available for the adventurous.

If you haven’t tried it, THIS is the place to have a go. Castelluccio is an extraordinary place with breathtaking vistas over the Pian Grande, a valley famed for its springtime sea of wildflowers. A centre for both hang-gliding and paragliding, even novices can can experience the indescribable freedom of floating in air in tandem with expert instructors.  And the views!  Undoubtedly the experience of a lifetime.