Italy Vacations – Make This Your Next Authentic Italian Vacation

Americans love Italy Vacations. Yet many times when we go, we get bogged down in the massive cities and we begin to feel that the vacation becomes “too touristy”. In Rome, the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain are so busy that they are almost avoidable areas to go to anymore because of the massive crowds. Sometimes the pasta is not as fresh as we had expected. The taxi fares are expensive and we have to learn how to figure out cheap transportation.

Italy Vacations: Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy and have some authentic Italian experiences.

If you have had any of these sensations on your Italy vacations, then have I got something for you – an authentic Italian Experience in Italy! Come along with me as I introduce you to Palazzo Donati in the Le Marche region and the whole gang over at Montestigliano in Tuscany where the Donati family has helped me find plenty of:

Things to do in Italy

and

Things to see in Italy

in a region of Italy that is not very well known:

Le Marche

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Leaving the rolling hills of Tuscany, we began our ascent into the mountainous region of Le Marche, Italy. This is where the hills are alive with fields of linen and poppy flowers.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

The winding road takes you higher and higher into the sky. Having just learned about a historic figure, Corso Donati from my host, Luisa Donati and her partner, Piero Asso. I am intrigued with her 14th-century genealogical history. She tells me about her relative who was a controversial figure in Florence, Italy history during the 1300’s. He was sent away (or was hiding) from powerful Florentine leaders in the early 1300’s. He ended up at the Castelo del la Pieve, a castle perched in a territory between Le Marche, Tuscany, and Umbria. It is located in the countryside about three kilometers from Mercatello Sul Metauro, which is where we are headed.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

In fact, she says, Corso Donate was so powerful that he even managed to arrange for the writer Dante’s exile from Florence while he was physically in Le Marche. At the time, Dante was writing about how corrupt the powerful wealthy Florentine leaders were, as well as the Florentine church leaders. Dante was exiling them to Hell in his book, The Divine Comedy. Dante managed to annoy the Florentine leaders so much so that Mr. Donati, who was now in the hills of LeMarche, got Dante exiled. Dante was never able to return to Florence ever again. She has quite a family history story! I wonder if the Strozzi family can top that story?

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Italy Vacations: Authentic Italian Experiences in the Le Marche Region

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

I had originally arrived in Florence where Luisa Donati had picked me up. However, I didn’t hear the story of Corso Donati from Luisa until we were on our way to LeMarche. So I never managed a visit to the Piazza San Pier Maggiore in Florence, where there are two buildings owned by and named after Corso: the torri Corso Donati or the towers of Corso Donati. Luisa says they are just behind the Duomo in Florence. I love hearing the history of my host’s family and would enjoy visiting this town square and the towers on my return to Florence.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Once we arrived in the small village in which Luisa’s family has this long history, Mercatello sul Metauro, the village begins to come alive. The Donati family’s Palazzo is in the center of the main square, where today Luisa hosts groups of people who get together for retreats in her family’s Palazzo. Events are held here, things like writer’s retreats, yoga retreats, choir retreats, family reunions, etc. Events, where groups of people can gather to learn and mingle are the best types of groups for this castle-like villa of at least 8-10 bedrooms.

Can you envision your family reunion here? I certainly can!

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Italy Vacations: Authentic Italian Experiences in the Le Marche Region

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

As I look around the square of Mercatello sul Metauro, I can just imagine how life would have been like back then and even today, it is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Florence. In fact, if you are looking for an authentic Italian experience, this is where you need to be for all of your Italy vacations.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Where everyone in the town comes out to greet you, they smile and speak to you in Italian even though they have no idea who you are. That could be because we are with Ms. Luisa and everyone in town knows who she is or because they don’t have a lot of tourists here, but either way, they are friendly and happy to see us. It is probably one of the warmest welcome I have ever had!

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

There are older men who sit in chairs around the square, especially at Café Ridaldi and discuss life and all things going on in their world. They even pose for photos if you ask them to.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Italy Vacations: Authentic Italian Experiences in the Le Marche Region

Staying in the Palazzo Donati, you will discover many authentic Italian experiences that will enlighten you and your senses. The old way of life is still present and you will soon see how a slow authentic Italian life functions. This place feels like it has a huge sense of community.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Italy Vacations – Authentic Italian Experiences

So get ready to have many authentic Italian experiences in the Le Marche Region with your family!

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Italy Vacations: Here are just a few of the experiences you can have at the near the Palazzo Donati:

Lost Art of Print Blocking: Antica Stamperia
One of the lost art professions known as print blocking, Emanuele Francioni has taken on the tradition of his Grandfather Francioni. He continues with his craft of handmade stencil printing on fabrics to make beautiful works of art on everything from kitchen towels, curtains, tablecloths, to table runners and shoes!

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Hand Painted Ceramics

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.You will be dazzled by the hand paintings of two young men, Gilberto Galavvotti and Giuliano Smacchia, who have followed another ancient technique of painting traditional ceramics. They create one-of-a-kind treasures. The have a tiny little shop in Urbina, and the work they do is absolutely stunning. Their studio is tucked away in a small corner and called Ceramiche d’Arte in Urbina, Italy. Urbina has been a center of hand made ceramics since the 15th century.

Italy Vacations: Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy and have some authentic Italian experiences.

Meet Charcoal Burners
Also a lost profession and maybe one you have never heard of called Charcoal burners. There are generations of men who continue to carry on this tradition of making charcoal by hand out of wood. They are the only community of men left in Europe doing this. This was an extremely fascinating and a unique experience in that there are only a handful of Charcoal burners left in the entire world. You will be guided by Author and Photographer Tonino Mosconi, who found them to be so interesting that he followed them around for months creating a book and taking photographs to document their existence.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.Health and Wellness Coach/Cooking
Ms. Jenny Sugar demonstrates and helps you cook a plant-based dinner in the Palazzo Donati. And even though her name is Ms. Sugar, the last thing she wants for you to eat is sugar! She has a presentation about health and wellness and then proceeds to celebrate plant-based nutrition by teaching you the basics and then preparing for you a delightful plant-based meal… perfectly paired with nature outside in the garden of the Palazzo.

Italy Vacations: Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy and have some authentic Italian experiences.

Cooking Demonstration for Homemade Pasta
And then there is Lina! The cook of the house, she does an amazing job by showing exactly how easy it is to make homemade tagliatelli (NOT) with strictly a bag of Gran Florena flour and 6 eggs! This woman is a powerhouse when it comes to making pasta. She is the epitome of an Italian woman who can whip up Italian pasta faster than honey draws in bees.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Truffle Hunting Demonstration
Truffle hunting can take hours and you could choose to do that, but otherwise, for me, I don’t want to walk 5 miles in the woods. Instead, you can walk the path along the Metauro River Valley, which are wooded and close enough to town where a local restaurateur Umberto Sacchi can take you with him and his dog Nina to discover truffles. This is a great way for you to learn about the popular sport of truffle hunting in this area (and its many secrets!). And Nina the dog will not let you down, as she is a truffle-finding expert! Also, Umberto’s restaurant, Restaurante da Uto located at Locanda Dei Sacchi in Mercatello sul Metauro is where I ate the best pasta I had on my entire trip: Passatelli pasta with black truffle alfredo sauce. It was Heaven!

Italy Vacations: Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy and have some authentic Italian experiences.

Dinner with Academia del Padlot
Once again, I had the honor to be invited by the Padlot men to sit at their table and enjoy their cooking, camaraderie, and wine. This is a group of nine local men who have formed a group around the enjoyment of cooking, eating, drinking, and camaraderie. They have gotten together every day for a drink, every month for a dinner, and once a year for a trip for the last 20 plus years. I wrote about this on my previous visit called Food, Friendship, and Wine in the LeMarche, Italy.

Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy to have authentic Italian Experiences.

Italy Vacations: Where to stay:

Italy Vacations: Come along with me to the mountainous Marche region to find some things to do in Italy and have some authentic Italian experiences.

Palazzo Donati

Palazzo Donati: a Holiday villa in Mercatello sul Metauro, which is a three-level palace with 8-10 bedrooms that has been lovingly restored. It is one the few places in Italy where you can still enjoy an authentic Italian experience.

As mentioned before: Palazzo Donati is available to rent for small groups and you can create their own experiences with Luis’s help.  You can also call or email Luisa to see what is on the agenda for a particular month at the Palazzo and just join in. Contact her for pricing and availability. Italy vacations: Luisa Donati Palazzo Donati – Via Bencivenni, 29 – Mercatello Sul Metauro (PU) – Tel. +39 0577 342189 – info@palazzodonati.com

Recommended Reading:

Authentic Italian Recipes for the Soul

LeMarche Region, Italy:

Food, Friendship, and Wine in Le Marche Region, Italy

The Lost Art of Print Blocking in Carpegna, Italy Regenerated

Tuscany Region, Italy:

Luxury Italy: A Journey for the Soul

Italy and It’s Liquid Gold

One of the Best Place to go in Italy

Hotel Adler Spa in Tuscany, Italy

Veneto Region, Italy:

Venice – Behind the Mask

Carnival of Venice

More Things to do in Venice, Italy

I dream of Venice, Italy

Best Things To Do In Venice, Italy

Lazio Region, Italy:

Top Secrets of Rome Revealed

5 Reasons to Rent an Apartment in Rome

Get the Scoop on the Best Gelato in Rome

Tiber Island: A Tiny Island in the Middle of Rome

From Rome to Positano, Italy

Campagna Region, Italy:

The Abbey of Montecasino and Herculaneum

Positano, Italy: Bellisimo Part 1

Positano, Italy Bites Deep: Part 2

Furore, Italy: The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy

La Bottega del Legno: The Woodshop in Forli, Italy

First Words: La Biblioteca Malaestina in Cesena, Italy

A weekend trip to Cesenatico, Italy

Altavita Winery: The High Life of Cesena

The Magnificient Masselina Estate and the Women of Faenza, Italy

Puglia Region, Italy:

The Power of Travel Seen Through the Eyes of a Travel Company

Liguria Region, Italy:

Portofino, Italy: At least Once in a Lifetime

Italian Street Laundry

Genoa, Italy and the BW City Hotel

Le Rune, Genoa, Italy

Treat Yourself to the Suite Life: Hotel Splendido, Portofino, Italy

Hotel Splendido: Absolutely Splendid

Shoo Fly! Shoo Fly!

The Poetry of an Old Fisherman’s Village: Bocadasse, Italy

Italy Revealed: Camogli, Italy

Calabria Region, Italy:

Unique Italian Gelato Culture

Disclosure:  The writer believes in full disclosure and wanted to let you know that this trip was provided by Palazzo Donati.  As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. 

2017-07-10T15:59:58+00:00

18 Comments

  1. Annette White July 3, 2017 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    So nice to see a different side of Italy. Definitely an authentic experience!

  2. Tina July 4, 2017 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness all of your photo are breathtaking. I would love to visit Italy and stay at the Palazzo Donati. How neat with all the cooking demonstrations I would definitely sit in on all of those.

    • Cacinda Maloney July 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      Ahh, thanks, yes it is an awesome place for anyone’s Italy Vacations!

  3. Katie Kinsley July 4, 2017 at 10:32 am - Reply

    I have only ever been to Rome and Venice, so those are two very touristy places to visit. I want to go back, but I want to explore the beauty of Tuscany. I am trying to get my husband prepared for a trip soon.

  4. Marilyn Jones July 4, 2017 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    Le Marche is such an undiscovered area of Italy and Donati family members are the perfect hosts to introduce visitors to this Italian paradise!!

  5. lisa July 4, 2017 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    WOW, your pictures are BEAUTIFUL!! I have never been to Italy, but I do have it listed on my bucket list of places to visit. I would love to see the Hand Painted Ceramics, I bet they are beautiful in person. What an awesome experience, I really need to go ahead and plan my trip!

  6. Margie Miklas July 5, 2017 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    What an amazing experience this was. So glad we got to experience it as a small group!

  7. Swathi July 7, 2017 at 1:25 am - Reply

    The amazing beauty of this place is clearly evident in the pictures. I wish I could visit Italy soon. It has always been one of my favorite places. Thanks for the lovely article. The pictures are truly a treat to the eyes 🙂

  8. Natalie July 7, 2017 at 6:17 am - Reply

    OMG YES PLEASE!!!! I’ve always wanted to go to Italy for sure. One day, maybe when all my kids are grown and I may have more money. Or maybe, when I get my life together and I can save for it. None the less, these pictures are beautiful. I love the style of the buildings, just art all around, i love the different textures and colors.

  9. Marilyn Jones July 16, 2017 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Excellent recollections of your amazing authentic Italian experience! I enjoyed reading it!!

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