Listen to the interview with Katy from Untold Italy and discover what to see, do and eat in Le Marche, Lonely Planet’s Top Region to Visit in Italy for 2020.
UNTOLD ITALY PODCAST INTRODUCTION
Josie: Ciao and benvenuti to Untold Italy. I’m Josie.
Katy: And I’m Katy. And we’re here to help you plan your trip to Italy.
Between us, we have many years of travel experience and we want to help you uncover your own as yet untold stories and adventures in Italy.
Each episode, you’ll hear practical advice, tips and ideas, to help you plan your own trips to the magical land of history, stunning landscapes, and a whole lot of pasta.
We’ll have interviews from experts and focus on local destinations and frequently asked questions about travel in Italy.
Thanks for listening, and make sure to subscribe to our show. Now, let’s get started on your regular dose of Bella Italia.
Ciao, everyone. We hope you’re keeping safe and well. If you’re looking for a little escape to Bella Italia, you’ve come to the right place.
Le Marche, Italy Podcast – A Taste of Authentic Italy
Katy: In this week’s episode we take you to the region of Le Marche. Found to the northeast of Rome and southeast of Florence, this region is largely undiscovered by visitors to Italy, but it’s beloved by Italians. Known for hilltop towns, cultural institutions, rolling green hills, the Apennine Mountains, stunning white sand beaches, and of course amazing food and wine, Le Marche is the undiscovered region of Italy you’ve been dreaming of.
Our guest today is my friend Chantelle Kern, who, along with her husband, Giovanni, runs The Italian On Tour.
The Italian On Tour is a small group Italy tour company specializing in the Le Marche region. With a passion for and focus on food, wine, and local experiences, they want to help you discover the region they love and call home.
We were so much looking forward to meeting Chantelle and Giovanni in their hometown, Ascoli Piceno, in March this year, but sadly that wasn’t to be. However, luckily we can all go there now, thanks to Chantelle’s beautiful descriptions of the places, people, dishes and wine of Le Marche. So, on with the show.
Welcome to Untold Italy, Chantelle. We’re so glad to have you here. Before we get started, can you tell us a little bit about how you came to be in Italy and how you fell in love with Le Marche?
Chantelle: Well, it’s a bit of a love story. My first time in Le Marche was in 2006. I had actually never heard of Le Marche. I had went to Perugia to study at the Universita per Stranieri. And Giovanni at the time, who’s my now husband and my business partner, grew up in Ascoli Piceno. And so one weekend that I had off from my school in Perugia, I went to Ascoli Piceno. That was my first time in Ascoli Piceno.
It was a beautiful and fun weekend and I fell in love with Piazza del Popolo, which for me is one of the most beautiful piazzas in all of Italy. Ever since that first year in 2006 when I went to Le Marche, I just wanted to keep on going back.
It was a very different experience from my first trip to Italy when I was backpacking by myself, which I never really got to have that local experience and really get a feel for Italian life. I had traveled to all the major cities, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan. I’d been all over Italy before going to Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche, and I didn’t really have that connection with Italy till I got to experience with Giovanni, a local who grew up in the area.
It was such a different experience from anything I had had before. Before, I just felt like I was another tourist and I was just doing the touristy things, but I wasn’t experiencing genuine Italian life. And after traveling all over Europe I had my favorites, and it wasn’t actually Italy until I came with Giovanni and that’s when I absolutely fell in love with Italy.
Katy: Oh wow, that’s such an amazing story. So, what was it about Ascoli Piceno in particular? What were some of the things that made you really fall in love? Was it the food, was it the people?
Chantelle: It was a little bit of everything. When I went to the major sites, because everybody on their first trip they want to see Venice and Florence and Rome and that’s expected, and I was like that too, it was the fact that when you come to Ascoli it’s locals. It’s mainly locals and you actually get to see what it’s like, you get to feel a little slice of that la dolce vita.
I’m not walking in front of the Trevi Fountain and there’s just tourists. Instead, I’m walking into the piazza and there’s children riding their bikes and there’s people in the cafes. You feel like you become a part of that everyday life. Rather than being an outsider, you become part of the local town, part of the people. It’s not like you’re just sitting there on the sidelines and you’re just looking at the sites. You actually interact with the locals. I mean, for me I am a local here now so this is my life, but when you have a local and you travel with somebody who not only is a local but understands you because they’ve traveled abroad and they get what you want out of travel, it’s a very different experience.
So, with Giovanni he had spent many years abroad and so he understands what you want to experience out of Italian life, and that allowed me to travel deeper and really get a connection with the local lifestyle. For me, that’s the beauty of travel, is being able to understand different cultures rather than just seeing things. Seeing things is beautiful, but not really knowing the culture or the people behind it you just touch the surface. So, for me, when I was able to really experience Le Marche, Ascoli Piceno, and the area, and we also traveled to Abruzzo and a little bit of Umbria, we used to go to Castelluccio quite often, it’s a different experience and it’s a very rewarding experience.
I’ve always felt like when you go someplace and when you actually get to experience the place, you get insight into the local culture, you actually remember that place.
Some people probably think this is crazy, but I actually don’t really remember much of the Coliseum because I don’t have an experience to connect it with. Yes, I remember I went there and I saw it and I saw it with a tour guide, but for me the most rewarding travel has always been experiential travel where you actually interact with the local people. That’s part of the reason I really fell in love with the area.
Of course, we have really great food which is fabulous. And one thing about Le Marche that’s very unique is it really is all of Italy wrapped up into one region and that also translates to the cuisine. So, in Le Marche you can have amazing seafood that’s right on the coast. And Ascoli’s in a really perfect location because you’re a 30-minute drive from the sea, from the Adriatic Sea, and you’re about a 30-minute drive … Not even 30-minute drive. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the edge of truffle country.
So, you can really have it all in this vacation. You can go to the sea, you can have amazing seafood. If you’re in San Benedetto, which isn’t too far from Ascoli, it’s a beautiful place to visit. In the summer they have what they call a lungomare, or boardwalk, and they actually have a breakwater that goes all the way out. It’s a really nice place where you can go and experience an Italian summer. They have all the umbrellas and the traditional beach huts, you know, when you think of a seaside village that would be San Benedetto.
Then, you can basically drive 30 minutes and you can go to places we call … Our area in Ascoli is Piceno wine region and we have multiple DOC wines. Rosso Piceno. Pecorino wine. The original purveyor of Pecorino wine is in the province of Ascoli Piceno. So, we have a lot of tradition here in the wine areas, also with the seafood as well, and we also have truffle country.
The truffle country nearby Ascoli is home of nero pregiato, so it’s a black truffle. And the main season of the black truffle starts the very end of October and basically wraps up at the end of February, very beginning of March.
Katy: So, all this sounds like an amazing time to visit Le Marche then.
Chantelle: Absolutely. Fall is a stunning time to visit Le Marche. If you want to taste truffles it’s a great time to come. And it’s a great time to visit also because it’s beautiful. You can imagine when the vineyards change color it’s like a picture. And Le Marche is like a patchwork. You see the vineyards and then you have the olive groves. It’s a really beautiful landscape and it’s got these beautiful rolling hills.
Actually, most of Le Marche is hilly, and the small percentage that is flat is mostly located on the coastline, which you’ll see when you travel Le Marche. We’ll see lots of small hilltop villages around. And sometimes they’re not the best places to stay in, so I do recommend for when people are thinking about visiting Le Marche, Ascoli Piceno is really great because it’s a walkable city. So, whether you’re coming here with kids or whether you’re staying in the center, we have some really cute boutique hotels. Most of them are family-run, which is really nice. A lot of things are family-run in Le Marche. It’s like an old palace that’s been converted into a boutique hotel. We have a couple of those and they’re all centrally located so you can just walk out at night to the piazza, enjoy an aperitivo or grab a gelato, and it’s that slice of life, la dolce vita moment is available to anybody coming to Ascoli.
That’s something I really love about Ascoli compared to other cities that you could stay in, in Le Marche, because it really has everything in the center, the restaurants that you can visit by foot, and you don’t have to get in a car or go anywhere. Although in Le Marche, because most of Le Marche to be experienced is in the interior besides the coast, so renting a car or taking a small group tour is probably the best way. Because if you’re going with a big bus tour you won’t be able to see much of Le Marche, and in general very few big bus tours go through Le Marche and they only stop at very, very big cities like Urbino or big cities on the coast because those are the only areas large buses can go.
That’s kind of nice about Le Marche, is that a lot of the experiences here, if you really want to see the countryside of Le Marche, require going with a smaller group. That’s a more sustainable way to travel and I think, or I know also, that it’s why the Lonely Planet chose Le Marche as one of the top places to visit Italy this year, because they’re all about supporting sustainable travel experiences. And Le Marche offers a lot of that, especially because most of the wineries that you go to, they’re these small, little family-run wineries where we take guests. You couldn’t go there with a bus. You barely make it there with a van.
So, you go to these little places where you can actually meet the winemakers, the families that run them. And that’s a really special experience, when you get to meet the people and you actually get to go where the wine production is. Because if you go on a bigger bus tour, and yes there are a few that stop here in Ascoli and Urbino, and the wineries they take you to, they’re not necessarily the production site. They’re like a tasting room or a cantina. So, you don’t actually get to experience the production site. And when you go to bigger wineries that can take these big groups, you don’t actually get to meet the winemakers.
I think it’s so unique, whether you love wine or not, to get to meet the families because they’re very passionate about what they do and they have a lot of history about how they discovered the wine or how they make the wine. And you learn about their connection, not only with the land, but you also get to do wine tasting with the local cuisine.
For example, one of the wineries we go to, they make wine in amphora. They’re a family who started making wine in amphora, like the Romans did, because they had found an amphora on their property where they built their winery and where they started producing wine. They’re actually a young winery.
Sorry, Chantelle, just to stop you there. For people that don’t know, can you explain what an amphora is?
It’s like one of those terracotta … How would I explain iy? It’s narrow at the top and then it comes out. You know when you think of an Egyptian vase? Because they also have Egyptian ones and then they have the Roman ones. They look like a big vase basically.
Chantelle: They look like a big vase.
Katy: They’re huge, aren’t they? I know in the Testaccio district of Rome there’s a huge hill made out of old amphora.
Katy: But yeah, go back to this story, it’s really fascinating. I’m really interested to hear about this family that decided to make this a feature of their wine making.
Chantelle: Yeah. That’s what they decided because they had found amphora on their property, so that’s what they decided to do. I just remember the first time we went there, and even the things that they used to build the building, they had stones from the riverbed that was nearby. People really are attached to their territory and their land and every little aspect of it, so that comes thru in the wine.
Chantelle: And what’s really unique also about this winery is they’re one of the few wineries in Italy that have braille, and you can do … They have a family friend who’s blind and they decided to do all their labels with braille, which is really cool because it allows people who are blind to also have wine, and wine is such a sensory experience. That’s part of something that’s very unique about that winery.
Chantelle: We also do have other wineries in Le Marche that have labels in braille. So, if you do have any listeners that are listening, that’s pretty cool because they can actually read the labels.
Katy: Chantelle, this is really fascinating. Is there a particular type of wine Le Marche is known for, so is it the red varieties or the white varieties? I know you mentioned Pecorino, which you introduced to me actually, which I really enjoyed, but what are the main varieties that people would experience in Le Marche?
Chantelle: Just like all of Italy, the food is very, very regional. And I would even say more than regional, it’s provincial. Near Ascoli we have Rosso Piceno, we have Passerina, we have Pecorino. Passerina, it’s more of something you’d have with an aperitivo or with olive ascolane.
It’s very typically served when you have appetizers, so antipasti we call that in Italian. So, they will serve it with the fritto misto and the olive ascolana, which are a typical food of Ascoli. It’s actually a protected product of Ascoli and every year we do have a few festivals where they celebrate fritto misto, which is the mixed fried and the stuffed olives. These are the olives that are called oliva tenera. They’re a softer olive and they stuff it with mixed mince meat, they lightly batter them and lightly fry them. They shouldn’t be heavily fried. They should be very, very lightly … Just to offer a little bit of that crispy crunch. Not like onion rings but very lightly fried.
In Ascoli, a lot of people do go to Migliore, and Migliore is … If you’re here and you’re coming through yes, you can try their olive ascolana. But if you want real olive ascolana, the artisan-made ones, I really recommend going to an agriturismo or trying one of the local trattorias, because those are the ones that are handmade. We actually go to a restaurant and his mom still, she’s almost 90, this little lady, and she can make 750 olives an hour. It’s crazy but it’s really-
Chantelle: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. When you think of a typical little nonna, and she just loves doing what she does and it’s a family-run restaurant and I think that’s her passion. She loves cooking so she’s going to be there for the rest of her life and she loves it. Giovanni says they’re some of the best olives around.
Katy: Is it stuffed with pork?
Chantelle: It’s a mix of pork, turkey … I believe it’s pork and turkey. I’d have to double check with Giovanni. But it’s a mix of a couple of different meats and everybody of course has their secret, how much they put in, their ratios, right? Because everybody’s nonna does it slightly differently.
Katy: Of course, of course. You have to have your secret recipe.
Chantelle: Yeah, of course.
Katy: Looking forward to trying those one day, for sure. So, that’s the appetizer. What about the main dishes?
Chantelle: Well, it depends where you are in Ascoli, because as I mentioned … or in Le Marche in general. Because as I mentioned before, Le Marche is very diverse. Actually, we have some of the greatest diversity. Abruzzo ecologically is the most diverse, but in terms of landscape and food we are probably one of the most diverse regions in all of Italy.
So, if you’re on the coast, brodetto is a typical seafood stew, and every single town on the coast has a different one. And there, you will find a lot of sagre, festivals, around the brodetto. So, in San Benedetto you have Brodetto Sambenedettese. I might have not pronounced that perfectly right. There will be one also for Fano and for Porto Recanati there’s a different one, and they’re all slightly different.
The one from San Benedetto is a little Agrodolce, and if you go to any of the slow-food restaurants that are in San Benedetto generally you will find that on the menu because it is a traditional dish.
Katy: So, sagre, just for our listeners, traditional food festivals in Italy, and let me tell you, if you want an amazing experience you definitely have to find one when you’re there. Because we stumbled upon one in Lake Como just by accident, and it’s one of the top experiences that I’ve had in Italy so far. What do you think some of the best things about sagre are, Chantelle?
Chantelle: It’s one of those what I call the slice of life, la dolce vita moments. You go there and it’s all Italians and everybody’s having a good time. There’s normally music and there’s food of course. It’s all about the food. Especially if you come in fall, if you love, well, porcini mushrooms. I have to say, I love porcini. You go there and they’ll have tagliatelle with porcini.
And there’s lots of festivals around the seasonal food, right? Seafood, you’ll find a lot of the sagre in the summer. The fall dishes like the truffles, the porcini mushrooms. Also here you’ll find castagne, which are chestnuts, and that’s another one where you’ll find lots of different dishes made with chestnuts, things you wouldn’t really think of. It’s a great way to just try traditional dishes, how people would make them in that town that you’re visiting.
So, you get to not only mingle with the locals and have a local experience, but you also get to try a traditional dish the way the locals would make it. The whole sagra is basically about celebrating this food. It’s really a great experience for people because it checks all the boxes. You get to see Italians’ everyday life, you get to experience what it’s like to basically go to one of these food festivals. It’s like a party around food. And you get to taste local cuisine.
So, I do think that’s the unique thing about sagre. And they vary in every little town. Even if you just go outside of Ascoli, because we do have porcini mushrooms around here, you’ll have the sagre for the porcini or the sagre for the chestnuts. If you go half an hour the other way you’ll have sagre around the seafood. And if you up to coast of Conero, they have … I’m not sure the translation in English but there are these slow food little, tiny clams, that they also do it with pasta. They’re a typical slow food dish from the area of the coast of Conero. Every area has something a little different.
Katy: That truly sounds amazing. Honestly, if anyone is thinking they want to go to Italy to eat, you really should try a sagra. It’s really one of the top experiences that you’ll have in Italy. Now, Chantelle, I think we’ve done a lot of eating and drinking. There’s ways to maybe build up an appetite in Le Marche that we haven’t talked about. You did mention the coastal areas.
Katy: And I guess people typically in Italy, they know maybe Sicily, Sardinia, and the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre as the coastal areas. But what can you tell us about the coastal areas in Le Marche?
Chantelle: Le Marche is home to many blue flag beaches, and these are beaches that have to meet a certain environmental quality. One thing that’s great about Le Marche is basically anywhere along the coast, you’re going to have beautiful, clean coastline. But what is really unique about Le Marche is if you go up the Adriatic Coast you will find the Monte Conero, so Mount Conero. It’s a national park, it’s the only mountain that basically comes out of the sea on the Adriatic side of Italy.
It’s this beautiful white mountain and it’s amazing because you have the beach, you have wine country right there, and people who like to go hiking, you can go hiking along the coast there. It’s called Passo del Lupo and they do guided hikes, although mostly in Italian because most of the tourism we do have here is a lot of Italians. But you can take these hikes along the coast there on the coast of Conero, so if you’re an active person it’s a great place to visit in the summer. They do windsurfing and everything.
If you’re less active and you just want to relax, there’s also boats that take you out in the summer along the coast, so you can go up and actually go to the beaches that are not accessible by road but you have to take by boat. There’s some really nice, secluded spots, that allow you to have all that gorgeous coastline all to yourself, all those beautiful white sandy beaches without the crowds, which is really hard to find in Italy in the summer because not just do you have Italians vacationing but we have everybody else coming around the world to vacation and enjoy a beach vacation.
So, the coast of Conero is really one of those hidden gems and it offers some amazing, amazing views. Sirolo is a really nice little seaside town to stay in. But it’s also important to note that at most of the stays along the coast, there’s a lot of bed and breakfasts. There’s some hotels, but there’s a lot of bed and breakfasts right inside the village there in Sirolo and Numana, and those are two great places to stay.
They’re very happening in the summer. Like with any major beach side towns, they are definitely more lively in the summer, there’s lots of stuff going on, they have things in the piazza. The piazza’s always the life of the city or the town you’re visiting. It’s a really beautiful little place to visit. If you have a car, or even by bus because there’s a bus there as well, you can go and visit wine country literally five minutes from the beach. And I’m not kidding you, a five-minute drive from the beach you have the wine country of Rosso Conero. So, for wine lovers, you don’t just have to be a beach vacation. You can do wine, you can go to the beach, you can go hiking and of course great food.
So, it’s a really nice place for people who are really into the beach but they also want those other little aspects of Italy. Because let’s be honest, food, as we’ve talked about, is integral in any Italian experience. So, Conero really gives you all that. It’s also one of the favorite beaches … Some people might not know her but a big Italian fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni, it’s one of her favorite beaches. It’s called the Due Sorelle, the two sisters, and that’s one of the beaches that you have to take a boat to get to.
Katy: That sounds amazing. What’s the season there? Well, knowing coastlines, you’re probably looking at a May to October season. Is that the same in Le Marche?
Chantelle: I would say it’s more of a June to September season.
Chantelle: And generally June to September would be the big part of the season. They have lots of events and things going on, so it’s a lot of fun for people. There’s lots of things to do, there’s lots of organized events there throughout that time.
Then they have a shuttle that takes you down … Because it is Monte Conero, so it’s a mountain, it is a hill to get down, but they do have a shuttle that will take you down to the water, to the coastline. All that kind of stuff runs generally June to September. And the weather here is really lovely in September. I’d say, personally, in all of Italy, it’s very, very busy if you come in August anywhere, on the beach. Although August is very busy here, in the perspective of other areas it’s not going to be quite as busy.
So, that’s the nice thing about Le Marche, because we haven’t experienced a lot of mass tourism, it’s basically been mostly Italians that travel. It’s a nice place that you can go and not expect to have to deal with lots of tourists, so that’s something really great about Le Marche. You can have all those beautiful white sandy beaches and gorgeous shots of the coastline with the mountains.
Katy: I haven’t been there and circumstances this year are making it so that I won’t be there, at least in this first half of the year, but it really does sound a lot like Tuscany in some ways. Would you say that? If you were to pick a region that maybe people know more about, would you say that it’s a bit more like Tuscany?
Chantelle: A lot of people want to compare Le Marche to Tuscany or Umbria and say it’s Italy’s next Tuscany. Le Marche has obviously drawn similarities to these regions as these regions border Le Marche, but Le Marche is truly unique and in my personal opinion deserves its own personal identity.
But the wine country, certain areas are very similar. If you go to the province of Macerata, you’ll find hills very similar-looking to Tuscany when I think around Siena, and a little more open hills and some bigger estates and that sort of thing. You can find that around there. There’s some very big wine estates around there, and that’s I think what you see mostly around Siena. So, it’s very similar in that sense. If you go up near Urbino, it borders Umbria and Tuscany, so you’ll find wild boar on the menu and it’s very green and similar when you think of Umbria, how it has the green rolling hills and that sort of thing.
In terms of cuisine, of course, there are similarities, but I find that it just depends where you are. Like I was saying, closer to Tuscany you will find those traditional wild boar dishes because all the areas are very similar around there. But then again you won’t find a lot of big buses, whether you’re going through the countryside there, and you also won’t find that train travel is going to get you around the whole countryside. So, if you are traveling and you want to experience the countryside that’s beautiful, you actually should consider renting a car, taking a bus, or doing a small group Italy tour, because the train will only get you along the coast.
Katy: How would we get to Le Marche from say Rome or Florence, what would be the best way, Chantelle?
Chantelle: If you’re coming in from Rome, because Le Marche has the Apennine Mountains that run through it there is no train. You want to take the bus. There’s a bus that leaves multiple times per day from Fiumicino and also from Rome’s main station. And that bus takes you about three hours from Rome. So, it’s very similar to driving.
So, you won’t want to take the train. I’ve had plenty of our guests ask us, when they want to go back to Rome after their tour with us, “How do I get back to Rome? It says it’s eight hours by train.” So, if you were to take the train it would take you significantly more time because it has to go around the Apennines to get back to Rome. So, you want to take the bus in this case. If you’re coming from Florence you would take the train. And if you’re coming from Venice you can take the Frecciarossa down and then you’d switch in Ancona, and then from Ancona …
Well, Ancona’s part of Le Marche, so depending where you are going in Le Marche you would either take a train down the coast to one of the other coastal towns or you could take a bus. So, I think a lot of people might be thinking about Urbino this year, because Urbino is on the New York Times 52 Places To Go and it’s also the hometown to Raffaello, so Raphael, and this year is the 500 year anniversary of Raphael’s death. So, for people looking to have a very cultural experience, who love history, going to Urbino this year is a really great choice because there’ll be lots of events celebrating Raphael. From there, if you’re looking to reach Urbino, you would take a bus from Ancona.
After you take the train down to Ancona, you can take a bus inland or you can rent a car. But the thing to consider when renting a car of course is that all these historical towns, they have a limited zone that is basically only for the locals if you have a permit. So, you have to consider that with your parking and navigating everything. So, if you do go to Urbino you’ll have to realize that you have to walk in a bit, you can’t park directly in the center.
Katy: Yeah, my-
Katy: … cohost, Josie, she’s had a few run-ins with the historic zones unfortunately so she’s learned the hard way.
Katy: But apart from driving yourself, which does sound like a good option, especially if you like to be a bit of an independent traveler, but you do also offer tours in the region and can you tell us a little bit about those?
Chantelle: Yeah. What we do is our tours are based out of Ascoli Piceno. Ascoli is a really lovely place to stay in Le Marche because we also are able to reach Abruzzo from here and our tours also go into Abruzzo. What we do is we really give you a backstage pass to experiencing Italy like a local. My husband Giovanni and I, we host all our tours and we basically offer itineraries that take you on day trips around the region. We go up to the coast of Conero of course, and we go to my favorite restaurant which I would say is the best view of the coastline all the way up the Adriatic Sea of Italy. It’s a stunning view of Monte Conero. It’s one of my favorite seaside sightseeing days.
We go up there. You’ll visit many of Italy’s most beautiful medieval villages. You’ll also visit the Piceno wine country. As I was speaking, Piceno wine country is the home to Pecorino. It’s also an area where we visit Offida, and Offida is home to what they call the tombola, they make the lace. You can actually see the ladies who make the lace. You’ll visit some beautiful theaters as well throughout our time. And a really cool fact about Le Marche is that it has the highest concentration of theaters in the world. So, it’s a very cultural region so it’s really important that people get to see a little bit of that here.
We also take you into Abruzzo where you’ll visit the largest medieval fortress in all of Italy. And we also do, on our seven and nine-day tours, we take people to visit a family farm where they have been producing olive oil since 1824. It’s a really, really authentic experience. You’re welcome into this family’s home, you eat the food that they make, they cook for you. It’s everybody from the great-grandmother, which is bisnonna in Italian, to the little children, and it’s really that authentic Southern hospitality feel, which Abruzzo already we would consider that going to the South.
That’s a really cool experience. I think it’s something that you just can’t do on your own unless you have an introduction to that, so that’s something that we really love taking people. Our guests, some of them, it’s their favorite day. It’s something that they always say, “We’re going to remember this for the rest of our lives.” It’s really cool that we’re able to give people that experience.
Katy: Chantelle, it just sounds to me that when you created these experiences, just going back to when we first started this conversation, that feeling that you got when you first got to Ascoli Piceno and you felt like that you found the real Italy, is that what you’re trying to recreate with the experiences that you offer?
Chantelle: Absolutely. For us, it’s that kind of experience where you come, you are welcomed by your new Italian friends, and we’re here to show you the highlights of our region. And for you to meet the people, experience, and have amazing food in a way that also supports the local community. Because for us, that’s also important. We are locals here, living here, and we want people to have an experience that not just is about … On tour with us you don’t stay in big hotels outside the city. You’ll stay in family-run hotels, boutique hotels. You’ll go to places that you wouldn’t find online. The wineries we go to, many of them don’t even list online.
These are places that we take you to because we fell in love with them. We’ve found a lot of them because Giovanni has done the Sommelier course here in Italy so they go and you find out … We’ve discovered these places that are unique. So, it’s really so much very personal for us and it’s a way that we have personal relationships with all these people. So, when you come there, you’re getting introduced by a friend. It’s that kind of thing that you can’t recreate on your own and you can’t recreate with these big tours, they don’t live here.
We live here as locals so it’s really a local experience that connects you with the people and I think that’s why it’s very close to our hearts in many hearts. What we do is our passion and we love sharing Le Marche and the areas of Abruzzo. These are the places we traveled before, where we would go every summer. We have many friends in Abruzzo, in the province of Teramo, and these are places that we used to go every year when we would come to Italy for our summer vacation.
These are places that we’ve been going for years, not just since we started offering tours. These places are places that we’re very connected with and everything from the restaurant owners to the chef that you’ll prepare a meal with on tour with us, these people are not just people we work with but they’re also friends of ours.
Katy: Oh, Chantelle, it sounds just so special and I’m really, really, really hoping that I can be there with you later this year and experience some of it for myself. So, Chantelle, grazie mille. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your passion for beautiful Marche. Before we sign off, do you want to let our listeners know where they can find you online and just a little bit more about the tours, so if they’re interested they can get in touch?
Chantelle: Absolutely. You can find us online at www.theitalianontour.com. You can also get our Italy insider guide and I’ll give Katy the link for that if she wants to put it in the show notes. That offers some tips for those of you who want to travel Italy like a local.
Katy: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Chantelle. We’ll definitely have all the tips and tricks and links in the show notes. Once again, thank you so much for joining us. It’s always such a pleasure to talk about this part of Italy with you and I can’t wait to get there soon.
Chantelle: Thank you so much for having me and I can’t wait to show you Le Marche when you come and visit.
Katy: We hope you enjoyed our episode featuring Le Marche and Chantelle from The Italian On Tour. This is a small Italian-based tour company who, like many others, are going through an incredibly tough time right now, as we all are. If you have dreams of visiting the untold Italy and off the beaten path adventures, do consider joining one of their Italy tours as you plan your future trips to Italy. You’ll get a true backstage pass to authentic Italy and have memories to treasure forever.
Ciao for now.