Seven years ago, with precious little planning or preparation, I bought a derelict farmhouse in the beautiful eastern region of Italy, known as Le Marche.
The roof was falling in; cows slept in stalls downstairs; birds and mice scurried about upstairs; and everyone in my life thought I had totally taken leave of my senses. But I could see my family living here and I just knew that I had found the right place for us. And so, after many years of wrestling with Italian bureaucracy and lots of angst along the way, the house is finally ready for occupation.
Now, of course, the family love Casa Castagna too and have kindly conceded that perhaps, after all, I was right. Le Marche is a beautiful region of Italy – just like Tuscany but half the price and a quarter of the tourists. We have stunning sandy beaches and a breathtaking mountain range (where you can ski or just walk the wonderful trails); medieval hill top towns and villages; fabulous restaurants and the freshest fish from the sea, whenever you want it. There are great vineyards close to the house, a fresh pasta shop and a fantastic butcher just up the hill.
The house is close enough to the nearest village but also set apart and we love the peace and tranquillity, the views and the fact that it is less than an hour to Ancona airport – so it is very accessible for a weekend. The wine is so cheap and so divine and we happen to have the best quality drinking water in the whole region, in our particular valley. And, if you are very lucky, one of our lovely neighbours may just leave a basket of freshly picked nectarines or peaches on the doorstep when you stay.
We have paid close attention to detail at Casa Castagna from the best duvets, pillows and mattresses that money can buy through to large squishy sofas and even hooks in all the power showers so you can hang a robe or towel. The doors, floors and tiles are old but the technology is bang up to date; both the house and the pool have broadband WIFI connection. We have a well equipped kitchen (including pasta machine), fabulous loggia with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, a shaded olive grove, fruit trees and a wonderful salt water swimming pool, with a swim up bar.
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