A villa holiday in Le Marche, Italy

A villa holiday in Le Marche, Italy

This summer, we enjoyed a villa holiday in Le Marche, a region which stubbornly remains off the radar to most non-Italian holidaymakers in spite of it offering everything a family could wish for from a summer holiday (in my opinion anyway). When I worked in the travel industry I was forever singing the region’s praises to PR agencies and journalists but it appears this fell on deaf ears. Well, their loss was our gain in late July as we explored tranquil villages, ate like kings and soaked up the sun on the fabulous Adriatic coast.

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Typical scenery of Le Marche

We stayed at Casa Ulissi for our villa holiday in Le Marche, a converted watchtower perched on the side of a hill just below the tiny village of Montedinove which in turn is located midway between the Sibillini Mountains and the Adriatic Sea.

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The hilltop village of Montedinove with Casa Ulissi hiding on the hillside somewhere…

Casa Ulissi is perfect for large families or groups of friends. Of the five bedrooms, there are three doubles, one twin and a bedroom with bunk beds. One of the double bedrooms occupies two upper floors with its own living room and bathroom, ideal for those who like to keep a bit of space between themselves and their loved ones. WiFi is available too in case that’s a deal breaker among a certain age group.

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The countryside surrounding Casa Ulissi

The owner has restored the building with care and style. There is a great balance between original features such as beamed ceilings and tiny windows (perfect for keeping the heat out) and modern touches such as the well equipped kitchen and the contemporary bathrooms. Much of the furniture is antique or reclaimed but, like most rental properties (and homes in general), there are unmistakable Ikea “accents” here and there.

I didn’t take any internal images of the house for this post as I’m still in the early stages of my travel blogging career and rate taking an immediate dip in the pool a lot higher than meticulously photographing my living space before it is destroyed by small children. However, the agent’s website has a pretty comprehensive selection of images and I can attest to their accuracy in terms of style and comfort.

A villa holiday in Le Marche

A villa holiday in Le Marche: breakfast, lunch and dinner all happened here.

Outside is where we spent most of our time (in fact, we didn’t use the vast and beautiful indoor dining table once). A gravelled terrace surrounds the property on three sides and it’s here we enjoyed many great meals. I won’t try to list the superlatives which sum up the sunsets and (thanks to my three year old…) sunrises we saw from Casa Ulissi, hopefully the photographs do them justice.

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Late afternoon views from Casa Ulissi

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The sun sets over the hills near Casa Ulissi

Unfortunately, wasps were quite a feature at mealtimes. However, they were not aggressive, just appreciative of the spread we’d laid on so no one was stung. Building elaborate wasp traps became something of a pastime for the children.  They (the wasps, not the children) all disappeared around sunset.

Evenings were delightful at Casa Ulissi. At quite an elevation, there was always a gentle breeze, belying the fierce daytime temperatures at sea level.

A villa holiday in Le Marche

Villa holiday in Le Marche: our swimming pool for the week

To one side of Casa Ulissi is a good size swimming pool. My children have yet to gain that terrifying confidence of leaping into an unfamiliar body of water so the enclosed shallow area was perfect for them while the older children enjoyed practicing their diving in the deeper section.

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A villa holiday in Le Marche: swimming pool with a view at Casa Ulissi

It was a short, steep drive from the villa to Montedinove, a proud community where on one occasion locals emerged from the village museum and encouraged us to come in and learn about the history their tiny settlement.

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The Adriatic Sea is just visible on the horizon from Montedinove.

For such a small and remote place, Montedinove has quite a trendy bar offering very good aperitivi. The village was quiet enough for our little gang of children to wander off and explore while we sampled some of the wines and antipasti.

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Exploring Montedinove

Just two minutes’ drive (or 10 minutes’ walk if you’re feeling confident about the return hike in the heat) down the hill from Casa Ulissi is Le Vigne di Clementina Fabi, a particularly enjoyable vineyard in which to while away an afternoon. Not only did we sample some excellent wines but we were also given an amazing array of local hams, cheeses, jams and breads to indulge in. Loretta, the owner, believes food is an essential part of wine tasting and we all agreed.

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Part of our spread at Le Vigne di Clementina Fabi

On Loretta’s recommendation, we spent a large part of our final day having lunch at Ristorante la Madonnina, hidden away somewhere near the village of Rotella on a neighbouring hilltop. There was no menu, just a seemingly unending number of dishes; fried quails’ eggs served with crispy pancetta and wild boar ragu were some of my favourite delicacies from the meal which was washed down with jugs of local wine.

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I do like to be beside the seaside in Grottammare.

When we weren’t eating, which was rare, we spent much of our time at Grottammare, the nearest beach resort to our villa. It was a pleasant 30 minute drive past plum orchards, vineyards and sunflower fields with enough farm machines in action to keep our two sons entertained.

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Coffee on the beach in a proper cup

Backed by a promenade and lined with pizzerias, ice cream parlours and bars, Grottammare is everything I could want from a beach resort at this stage of my family’s life. Akin to bathwater in both depth and temperature, the sea here is delightful for reluctant toddlers; parents meanwhile can relax on sun loungers while sipping a morning cappuccino.

Never visited Le Marche? Find out why it’s a great destination for children.

Booking
We booked Casa Ulissi through Felix Villas, a small UK-based villa company with a great selection of properties on their site. I would definitely use them again.

Travel
There are two airports within 90 minutes’ drive of the villa, Ancona and Pescara, but if you’re travelling from the UK you are limited to Ryanair and Stansted with both of them. After checking lots of different routes, we opted to fly into Rome Ciampino as it was significantly cheaper. It’s a 3 hour drive from Rome to the villa but we saved around £100pp on the flights. The drive across the country is pretty straight forward if you’re not in a hurry. We took two different routes through the mountainous Gran Sasso National Park, both stunning and peaceful with good roads.

Have you had a villa holiday in Le Marche? Let me know in the comments below.

A family villa holiday in Le Marche, Italy

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32 Comments

  1. 19th September 2017 / 8:11 am

    What an incredible spot you have found! That terrace, the pool, that view! Take me there now! #famliytraveltips

    • 19th September 2017 / 11:39 am

      Yes, I would love to be there now!

  2. 19th September 2017 / 11:08 am

    Oh we love Italy so very much. SO much that I’m writing this from here in Punta Sabbioni, a quick stop before spending the next five weeks in Puglia. Marche is stunning indeed and that villa looks perfect for our sized family. Looks like you had an amazing stay. #FamilyTravelTips

    • 19th September 2017 / 11:40 am

      Wow, 5 weeks in Puglia, lucky you! I’ll have to have a read of what you’re up to!

  3. bavariansojourn
    19th September 2017 / 1:06 pm

    I would much rather visit somewhere like this than the most popular places. In Munich we could be in Italy in just over 2 hours, so I haven’t visited for a while (since we moved back to England). I am definitely getting withdrawal symptoms though, so will be adding this place to the list. Your villa looks gorgeous too! 🙂 #familytraveltips

  4. 19th September 2017 / 6:33 pm

    It looks gorgeous. We went to Tuscany and explored the lesser known south as well as the more popular north. Le Marche. #familytraveltips

  5. pigeonpairandme
    19th September 2017 / 7:28 pm

    Isn’t it incredible that places like this are still relatively unknown? I’ve bookmarked it for the future. It sounds as though even the drive there was memorable, let alone the stay itself. Familytraveltips

    • 19th September 2017 / 9:57 pm

      Yes, I’d happily do the drive again!

  6. 20th September 2017 / 1:23 am

    Italy, no matter where you are, is amazing for families. We took our kids two summers in a row to Tuscany. I like the sound of exploring the lesser known places though – and yes, their loss is your gain! The scenery is beautiful! #familytraveltips

  7. 20th September 2017 / 9:36 am

    I’ve heard you LOUD and CLEAR! haha Beautiful region going straight on my Italy bucket list!! #WanderfulWednesday

  8. 20th September 2017 / 11:34 am

    This is so so beautiful! 🙂 The views are spectacular, not to mention that sunset – wow! Lovely colours.

  9. 20th September 2017 / 2:36 pm

    Now this looks like a proper holiday! I bet it was so fun to rent a villa with friends (or family) – this seems like a really typical European way of vacationing! I normally just travel with only my husband but there’s something to be said of group trips! I’m hoping to do something like this next summer in France but on a smaller scale – like perhaps a cottage rather than a villa.

    • 20th September 2017 / 3:02 pm

      Well, there’s a huge variety of self catering places in France, gites are a good value option.

  10. Ruth
    21st September 2017 / 4:56 am

    I am all about discovering regions like this. I like that it gives you a country feeling but it is close to the beach. Sounds like the perfect combination! #wanderfulwednesday

  11. 22nd September 2017 / 8:33 pm

    What a hidden gem. I had never heard of this area but I can see why you recommend it! The villa has everything ( even friendly wasps) and that view is to die for! ‪#familytraveltips‬

  12. 22nd September 2017 / 9:37 pm

    This looks absolutely lovely and then there is the beach and vineyard not too far away. I just don’t understand why more people don’t know about it. Well it is definitely their loss. I hope to make it there before everyone else catches on. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  13. 23rd September 2017 / 9:28 am

    Looks like a lovely spot! I would definitely enjoy the lack of other tourists so let’s hope that the region remains “overlooked” just a little bit longer. Italy has so many tourist areas anyway 😉

  14. mymeenalife
    23rd September 2017 / 3:19 pm

    Oh this looks like an absolute dream! The pictures are definitely inspiring me. My husband will be traveling to Italy often for his new job, maybe we can add this on to one of his business trips! 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

  15. 24th September 2017 / 7:29 am

    Happy to read this again for #TheWeeklyPostcard! Definitely a new fav! Thanks for linking up!

  16. melindacrow
    24th September 2017 / 6:06 pm

    I am CONVINCED! What a beautiful and relaxing way to enjoy the peacefulness of the Italian countryside!

  17. 26th September 2017 / 2:48 pm

    This looks like such a hidden gem of a place – and that sunset is to die for! I’m a sucker for things like that. Thanks for sharing!

  18. 26th September 2017 / 6:38 pm

    What a fabulous part of Italy and one I admit to knowing little about . The pretty countryside, the proximity to the beach and of course the delicious food are very appealing #FarawayFiles

  19. 27th September 2017 / 1:28 pm

    Oh – it looks like perfection! What a lovely place to be adults, but let littles be little. Love the look of the villa and with villages and beaches nearby – I’m sold! Perfetto! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  20. 2nd October 2017 / 9:32 am

    Ooh this sounds absolutely beautiful! I love the fact that not many people know about the region, there’s really nothing better than a stunning area that’s not too touristy! Good for you for enjoying the place rather than taking photos indoors too, having a great holiday is much more important. Thanks for linking up to #familytraveltips
    Nat.x

  21. 8th November 2018 / 2:41 pm

    Looks so beautiful. I taught English in Modena, Italy in my twenties and travelled a lot while I was there. Not been back yet with the children but REALLY want to. Just wondering whether it’s not too stressful to get us all there by train and bicycle!!!

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 7:46 pm

      Have you looked at the website Seat 61? He’ll convince you it’s doable!

  22. Mama Travels Earth
    14th November 2018 / 9:42 pm

    Wow this spot looks absolutely stunning, I can just about remember what it feels like to have the sun on my face thanks to these pics. And how fantastic to find a not-so-touristy part of Italy! Everything about it sounds like the perfect mix for a family holiday with young kids #familyfriendlystays

    • smudgedpostcard
      Author
      14th November 2018 / 9:50 pm

      Ah yes, sun on the face, I’d better read my own post again. I’ve totally forgotten what that feels like. Haven’t even left the house for 3 days due to poorly child. Roll on summer 2019!

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