Stef on how living and…”surviving” the Italian Good Life!

I realized that many of my followers are interested in learning about the experience of other expats who decided to move to Italy. Due to popular demand and the possibility to get in touch with other bloggers, I’m glad to interview and share with my readers this kind of experiences.

So, today I would love to introduce Stef, a Dutch expat who moved to Italy in 2008, accompanied by his husband and dog, to start their own Bed&Breakfast: the “Villa I Due Padroni” in the Oltrepo Pavese wine region, just 30 miles south of Milan. In 2014 Stef published his first book (in Dutch) about their life in Italy. The English translation is available from November 2016 as “Living in Italy: the Real Deal – How to survive the Good Life” and has had raving reviews from editorial websites and readers alike.

So let’s get started and hear about Stef’s experience as an expat in Italy…

Where are you originally from and when/where did you move to Italy? Did you move with family?      

  • I am a Dutchman and moved with my husband to Italy in 2008.

    Stef and Nico

 What inspired you to move to Italy and particularly to set up your own B&B?

  • My husband Nico was a few years from retiring and wanted to make a last career change, while I was busy with a masters study that required a stage in a foreign country, for which I chose Italy.

    Stef and Nico’s B&B, the “Villa i Due Padroni”

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?

  • It was difficult at first to find a rental appartment in Pavia, where we stayed the first 6 months but getting used to the Italian way of life was rather easy.

How does the Italian culture differ from home? Which aspect of Italian life was most difficult to get used to?

  • The most difficult part is getting used to sloppiness, agreements, time frames etc. You keep expecting people to live up to them but more often than not they don’t.

What are the locals like? Do you mix mainly with other expats?

  • There aren’t many expats in our region, which is the countryside south of Pavia. We do mix up with the locals though who are almost all of them agreeagble pleasant people.

Was it easy meeting people, making friends and integrate into the community?

  • Nico started singing in a choir and made some friends that way. Then we got acquainted with some of our Italian colleagues that wanted to cooperate and with restaurant owners, wine makers etc.

Is there anything you miss about living in Netherlands?

  • The one thing I miss is the possibility to cycle to shops etc. Here the hills are steep and the streets bad, so almost everything needs to be done by car.

What do you enjoy most about living in Italy and the Italian lifestyle?

  • Eating out! The climate, the beautiful landscape. The people as well, it is fun (mostly) to try and understand the cultural differences.

    Stef and his lovely “expat”-dog:-)

What’s your favorite Italian food?

  • What not? I like almost everything. The taste is always much better than in the restaurants in the Netherlands. Very fond of (vegetarian) lasagne, but risotto as well.

With your B&B you guest people from different areas and countries interested in discovering Italy. What are their feelings about our country?

  • Most of them are very surprised to find such a beautiful area close to Milan and can’t understand that nobody has ever heard of it. The like the fact that is non-touristy, quiet.

In our blog we try to incentivize people from all around the world to find out more about Italy and particoularly about Le Marche and their local tradition. Have you ever visited Le Marche and if so what did you love the most about Le Marche? 

  • I visited Le Marche yes. There are quite a few Dutch expats running B&B’s over there. I have discovered the coastal area mainly from Ancona to the south. There are some beautiful villages to visit. I will definitely return to visit the mountains as well!

How difficult was getting a work visa/permit?

  • We did not need permits, as EU-citizens.

Did you experience many difficulties in setting up your business?

  • Not on the administrative side as we are lucky to live in a very small ‘comune’ (aka: municipality). Buying and renovating the house however turned out to be a rollercoaster ride which I decribe in detail in my book!

How does the Italian work culture differ from your country?

  • Difficult to say, our work here is completely different from what we did at home.

    Some friends helping in picking grapes for the harvest

How does cost of living compare to home?

  • The cost of living is not much different, although eating out is much cheaper here.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Italy?

  • The distance to native friends and family of course, but apart from that I wouldn’t know!

What are your top tips to any future expats or people considering moving to Italy from abroad?

  • Language, language, language! You’ll find everything to go much easier and you’ll have much more fun if you know the language BEFORE you move. 

In retrospective is there anything you would change?

  • I would not go and live in the house that is being renovated again, better to rent a temporary apartment to have some possibility to escape if things get hot.

Why should people visit Italy? 

  • The climate, the culture, the people, the food, the landscape. Visit the countryside, not only the cities! Rent a car and admire the beautiful panorama’s, discover small nontouristy restaurants.

You are also writing your own blog.  Can you tell us a bit about it and when/why did you start your blog?  

  • Since 2008 we kept a blog for family and friends to learn about our adventures. In 2013 I decided that is was worthwhile to turn our stories into a book, which was published in 2014, in Dutch. It met with quite a success and favorable reader reviews and has now become available in English as “Living in Italy: the Real Deal”: 60+ stories about our hilarious and horrendous adventures in Italy. Again the readers’ reviews are (very) positive. It is available as ebook and paperback at Amazon and other retailers.
  • See
  • A Sneak Preview and pictures, reviews etc is available at
  • Facebook page:

I also had a lot of fun in reading Stef’s book and stories! I highly recommend his book and be ready to have fun! 


Bigger than love…an interview to lovely Issa and her ‘Le Marche Magic’

One of the things I love best of having started my blog is the chance to get in touch with many people and other bloggers.
I love to discuss and exchage points of view with people with different experiences, cultures and nationalities. This makes you feel close to so many friends, even at distance. Each of them with different interests and passions, but all linked from following a blog or from writing their own where they talk about what they particoularly care about. Sometimes it also happens to find bloggers with very similar passion to yours…that’s what happened with Issa, an American lady who moved in Le Marche seven years ago and I got in touch with thanks to her own blog: Le Marche Magic. Please keep reading this wonderful interview, which is also the outcome of a beautiful interaction between bloggers 🙂

Where are you originally from and when/where did you move to Italy? Did you move with family?  

  • I did not move with a family but on my own at 39 yrs of age. I moved here from where I was living at the time, the smallest state in the United States called Rhode Island. I moved here to be with my grandmother who lived in Florence. I say lived cause she passed away over a year ago. [We’re very sorry to hear that]screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-8-42-45-am

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country? 

  • I found the transition extremely easy, since I am a woman who loves the challenges life presents me. I love people and traveling. I feel mother earth is our home and would love to meet as many different types of people with also different beliefs than my own, I feel this will complete me on my own life’s journey.

How does the Italian culture differ from home? Which aspect of Italian life was most difficult to get used to?

  • To be specific, Le Marche how it differs from home is that the lifestyle here is wholesome something I have not to pay a whole paycheck to have but here it is a way of life that I love. For me there was nothing difficult to get used to, it all came naturally to me because I feel this is a way of life we are supposed to live.

    A beautiful view of Le Marche by Issa

    A beautiful view of Le Marche by Issa

What are the locals like? Do you mix mainly with other expats?

  • I love the ‘marchigiani’! They have a way about them of watching you for about a year to sum up who you are before letting you in…This is good, because we all should pick the people in our lives the way we pick our fruit…I mix with expats who have integrated in to the lifestyle here only.

Was it easy meeting people, making friends and integrate into the community?

  • Yes, I have been very fortunate to have made many many wonderful life friends and also have been the witness/ maid of honor for a dear friend, as well. I do have a habit of making lifetime friends wherever I go. 

Is there anything you miss about living in Usa?

  • No.

What do you enjoy most about living in Le Marche and the Italian lifestyle?

  • The way I am able to live my life, healthy.

    Issa visiting the beautiful Torre di Palme

    Issa visiting the beautiful Torre di Palme

What’s your favorite Italian food?

  • Very hard question to answer because every region has a specialty, but I am partial to seafood. No I love seafood and vegetables … and here it is all fresh and that is wonderful!!!

In our blog we try to incentivize people from all around the world to find out more about Italy and particoularly about Le Marche and their local tradition. Have you ever visited Le Marche before and if so what did you love the most about Le Marche?

  • Before 2009 I had never heard of Le Marche…and I love EVERYTHING this is why I also have started a blog to bring the world here…secretly because it should remain a treasure always and the tourist that come to visit should be people who want to keep the traditions and help keep the goodies of Le Marche. I would hate anyone who came and disrespected this beautiful region of Italy. I would never want it to become like Venice or Florence or Rome for that matter.13612398_10153479861451330_6875354225667551878_n

How difficult was getting a work visa/permit?

  • I was lucky to have found my soulmate here…but I did try and get a 1yr visa and it is not an easy thing to get if your an American. First they want to know if you have at least $100,000.00 dollars in your bank account (I kid you not) they want proof…and you also need to have a monthly check from , social security or retirement. Just to make sure ur not coming here to steal work. I personally had over $45,000.00 and a letter from the Secretary of State of Rhode Island and a letter from someone here in Le Marche (who is very influential) to say they would house me free of charge to just write my book….yes, at the time I wanted to write a book as well. But when I met my husband to be, not a lawyer would touch me, but to be honest with the internet and my wits I managed to get all the paperwork needed through New York and a firm I hired there.14045740_10153564019726330_1275270544717984653_n

How does the Italian work culture differ from your country?

  • Here they believe in family and…vacations.

How does cost of living compare to home?

  • It is so much cheaper here to live.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Italy?

  • None!!!

What are your top tips to any future expats or people considering moving to Italy from abroad?

  • Do it!!! Live everywhere you find your place on this earth and be limitless with your life.14925661_10153762396866330_631706273925303767_n

In retrospective is there anything you would change?

  • Not a thing.

Why should people visit Italy? 

  • Well from everything I have written above, it is obvious that I believe that every human being should travel. “Mother Earth is our home, just like you know all that is in your house. One should visit and try and understand as many humans beings living on our planet. Maybe we don’t incorporate always their lifestyles into our own, but what makes us RICH is at least understanding where they are coming from.” [Quote by Issa:-)]

You are also writing your own blog.  Can you tell us a bit about it and when/why did you start your blog?  

  • Yes my blog is called Le Marche Magic, I love where I live here in Le Marche and have found MY OWN special place on our mother earth. I would like to share it, I feel the untouched nature of Le Marche can really help and touch many people. Even if they come for a visit or to live. Le Marche is a way of life.14890512_10153766806646330_5066149853472691443_o

I hope you all enjoyed this enthusiastic and pleasant interview from Issa.

Please don’t forget to visit her blog about Le Marche:

I closed my original interview with a


and I’d like to share her lovely reply…

“You are very welcome! I hope I answered all your questions to your satisfaction. It was extremely easy for me to write all my answers since my fingers just flowed with love of writing about the place I love. A place called Le Marche.

With pleasure”, Issa 2/21/2017 Grottazzolinafullsizeoutput_28b0



Neo: from South Korea to Le Marche, looking for coffee and finding…paradise!

As everybody knows the Asian market is experiencing a sudden economic growth. The steady progress of the middle class is reflected in an increase in the domestic demand. And if you think about Asia as the most densely populated area in the world, you’ll understand why many Italian entrepreneurs, as well as Europeans, are focusing their energies in an effort to improve affair with the Asian countries.

Last month, during one of my travel in Italy, I had the opportunity to meet Neo Kook, a citizen of South Korea and the owner of an import business of Italian products. We spent together a long afternoon sipping wine, tasting extra virgin olive oil and chatting.

Neo Kong, visiting the local pasta supplier "Antica Pasta" in Campofilone

Neo Kong, visiting the local pasta supplier “Antica Pasta” in Campofilone

Neo explained to me that our country is arousing attention in their country. Recently, some Korean airlines have added the Italian stopover of the Fiumicino Airport in Rome, among other European destinations. The opening of direct routes to our country, also means an increase in commercial and touristic interest.

I’ve been living in New York for several years now and I know the appeal Italy has on my American friends. It has been really interesting to learn about the perception that Eastern countries have of Italy, as well.

I’ll tell you what I’ve found out…

  • What do you do for a living today?

I am running my own company. About 8 years ago, I’ve started dealing with import of Italian products in Korea. My company is headquartered in the capital Seoul.

  • When did you first become interested in Italy?

I think five years ago when I started to import coffee from Italy. In my country cooking classes are becoming very popular and there’s a great interest in Italian cuisine.

Visiting 'Fabrica del Gusto' cooking school in Fabriano. Neo and our dear friend Silvia

Visiting ‘Fabrica del Gusto’, the cooking school in Fabriano. Neo and our dear friend Silvia, one of the founder.

Italy enjoys a favourable image due it’s strong soft-power and cultural identity, in general. Everyone knows about the food, coffee and cultural heritage.

Neo during the tour at "Antica Pasta" in Campofilone to find out more about our local pasta tradition

Neo during the tour at “Antica Pasta” in Campofilone to find out more about our local handmade pasta tradition

However, the way of thinking about coffee in South Korea is similar to the ‘American’ one, where they are used to long coffee. So, I’ve thought about an alternative way to make my customers enjoy a real short cup of Italian espresso. Here’s my trick: every time I offer a cup of coffee to them, I always refer to Italian movies. Italian actors always ended their “tazzina di caffe” (Espresso cup) in just one sip. And this fascinates my customers a lot. Promote espresso coffee this way always works!

The one and only real Italian coffee: "An Espresso, please!"

The one and only real Italian coffee: “One Espresso, please!”

  • Why did you visit Le Marche?

It was for business and also because I was looking for something different, not so popular yet. Hence something special to offer to my customers. In Korea when talking about Italy most people think mainly about Rome and Venice. I was looking for something less obvious.

  • When was your first visit?

In 2008 I visited Italy for the very first time. I actually was in Rome, Lake of Como and Florence…I finally found out about Le Marche only in 2012. Now, every year I’m back in your beautiful region for at least one week. I come over here not only for work, but also for pleasure and vacation.

A visit at the food street event "Fritto Misto" in Ascoli Piceno with our friend Monia

A visit at the food street fair “Fritto Misto” in Ascoli Piceno with our friend Monia

  • What do you think about Le Marche?

Le Marche is kind of  ‘paradise’, a green oasis. Whenever I talk about Le Marche to my friends, I love to compare it to a region in my country called Gangwondo, also known as the ‘lung of Korea’. The location of Gangwondo is very similar to Le Marche.

Panoramic view of the area of Montefeltro in Le Marche

Panoramic view of the area of Montefeltro in Le Marche

  • Since 2012 you have returned to Le Marche every year: what’s the most important reason that brings you back?

I have many reasons to visit Italy. One of them is to meet my friends who live in Le Marche. Another one is for business and also to find out more about Italy’s food culture.

Visiting the "Fontursia" vineyard in Ripatransone

Visiting the “Fontursia” vineyard in Ripatransone…

...and having an aperitivo and discussing about business in the open air!

…and having an aperitivo, while discussing about business in the open air!

  • What would you tell other visitors considering Le Marche as a destination?

If I have to use only one word, ‘HEALING’ is the one I would pick. Le Marche makes me feel peaceful and relaxed as no other place on earth.

National Park of the Sibillini Mountains, Photo Credit: Enzo Torelli

National Park of the Sibillini Mountains, Photo Credit: Enzo Torelli

Thanks Neo for sharing your thoughts about Le Marche in this interesting interview!

Dreams are wishes and will come true…thanks to “Merry le Marche”!

Dream, imagine, desire: the bridal day is a magical time for any couple! To make it so, in addition to the certainty that you have chosen the right partner, it also takes much organization, creativity, energy and…a dream location! All these ‘ingredients’ must be carefully mixed together for the perfect recipe!

Today this new post/interview will tell about Elisa, Nadia and Chiara, in other words: the creative minds behind “Merry le Marche”, a professional wedding planner with an edge. Let’s find out together what ‘their secret’ ingredient for a successful wedding is…merrylemarche8

  • Could you briefly introduce ‘Merry Le Marche’?

Merry Le Marche is a wedding planner that will become a tour operator shortly. It formally works between Italy and the United Kingdom and have also various connections in northern Europe. The business is run by Elisa Generali, Nadia Pacino and Chiara Nigra: three Italian women with experience abroad, who have joined strenghts and expertise to create the world’s first agency dedicated to the international promotion of our beautiful region, Le Marche.

From left to right: Elisa, Nadia and Chiara

From left to right: Elisa, Nadia and Chiara

  •  Who is on your team and what makes you ‘special’ wedding planners’?

Our team is well structured and each of our members is responsible for something different and specific. Elisa, with previuos management experience in Italy and in London, is the general coordinator and she takes care of the planning phase of the wedding. Nadia, who has Italian-German origins, is our wedding designer: she curates all the arrangements starting from the location, to the flowers, the stationery and any other detail that needs a creative flair. Chiara, an expert in tourism and in high-end events planning, is in charge of logistics and accommodation of the guests after their arrival in Italy. She’s currently working on our upcoming ‘experiential’ travel project.

  • How is the work of ‘wedding planner’?

The wedding planner is often the ‘key-person’ of weddings, especially for people from abroad who wish to get married in Italy. For some couples, the Italian bureaucracy and the logistics organization from abroad can be too complicated and so, they prefer to rely on an on-site specialist, able to help them to find the perfect location and suppliers. Our mission is to act as a trusted ‘bridge’ between couples and Italy. We work as mediators and look for their best options to shape and make their dreams happen. We are their interpreters and, more often, we become even friends.merrylemarche6

  • The name “Merry Le Marche” sounds like a real ‘promise’ … where does the idea of recommending Le Marche as the perfect wedding location come from?

The name Merry Le Marche is a clear reference to the nature of the events and tours we organize: they must have a merry ‘soul’! In fact,  we aim to plan cheerful and lively weddings. Le Marche is a land of a great spirit: people from other countries always notice this feature of our region and just fall in love with it! They get captured by the stunning beauty of our landscape and the richness of our territory, as well as the personality of people from Le Marches: the friendly and joyful way local people are. Obviously the pun ‘merry/marry’  is no coincidence, since we take care of cheerful and unconventional weddings. And when saying it loud it also sounds like an invitation: ‘come and marry Le Marche!’merrylemarche1

  • Who are your ‘ultimate’ spouses? Who do you address to and what is your idea of wedding?

The main subject of our project is Le Marche region. Therefore, our ‘ideal’ spouses are eager to fall in Love with our territory and to marry, as well as their sweetheart, also the venue that will host the ceremony. In addition to this essential feature, we often collaborates with couples with very peculiar ideas that we will strive to become a reality. No more 80’s wedding parties with opulent-looking brides and luncheons longer than 10 hours! Full speed ahead for the vintage, the wedding festival, the picnics and the food trucks and whatever is outside the box! Right now, for example, we are organizing two marriages in the Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean style in the beautiful Riviera del Conero area and another one inspired by the old Fellini movies in the surrounding countryside of the city of  Fano. And yes, it is challenging, but also a lot of fun.merrylemarche4

  • Over the years there have been several wedding agencies, especially aimed at couples abroad with the dream of living the most beautiful day of their lives in Italy. What identify a wedding planned by ‘Merry Le Marche’?

Our uniqueness lies in our region. Le Marche is a still a land to discover and although many foreigners still dream of getting married in Rome or in Venice, others want to explore new and ‘true’ places, far from the biggest touristic cities. Le Marche offer just that: an authentic land, still ‘underexposed’ but efficient in tourism and with food and wine delights, as well as cultural, artistic and landscape excellence. In addition to that, as we were saying before, our ideal target are unconventional and eccentric couples, with special wishes. If you dream of a unique event that looks like impossible, just contact us, and we will find a way to make it happen!merrylemarche5

  • What does it mean to organize a wedding for foreign couples? What are the details not to forget?

Taking care of events for people from aborad is a wonder: we are honored to introduce them to our beautiful region and there is no greater privilege. The planning is a long process and on average it takes 18 months to organize an international wedding. However, with a meticulous time management and specific softwares we will not forget about anything. Italian bureaucracy always distress our clients but with an experienced wedding planner no hurdle is hard to overcome.merrylemarche7

  • What do you like the most of planning weddings?

It is a fantastic job in general, but in particular we appreciate the creativity behind this work. Starting from a small idea or vision and even from a small detail, we can give life to a great event! We also love to see the excitement in the eyes of our couples and their families and to have the honor of being part of an important and unforgettable moment. We enjoy to welcome all these people to our land and see them fall in love with Le Marche. And then, apart from some rare moments of understandable stress, we have lots of fun and laughter.merrylemarche2

  • Your weddings takes place in Le Marche in an Italian way. How much appeal does our country have abroad and what do foreigners expect from a ‘Made in Italy’ wedding?

Couples from abroad have always had a passion for our country and Italy is still the top destination in Europe where they dream to hold their wedding. Foreigners are enchanted not only by the beauty of the location, but also by the idea associated with Italy, which is a mix of romance, old movies’ charm, tradition and elegance. They love to combine all these features to their wedding, although with a personal touch. In fact, our couples want to feel like they are the main characters of Italian movies and we love to help them with that.merrylemarche9

  • Finally, Le Marche are the background to your weddings: I guess for some of your guests is their very first visit to our region. What does fascinate them the most and do you think they could even plan to be back after the merry event?

The beauty of a wedding destination is that the couples, their family and guests will stop for at least a few days and then have the chance to explore a bit of the surrounding area, tipically in the days following the wedding. They always fall in love with the beauty and authenticity of our land and appreciate the fact they hardly end up meeting tourists from abroad, not to speak of their love for our local cuisine and wines. They appreciate the diversity of our region, the fact that here you can stand in front of mountains but also lay on pristine beaches, that you can walk around in an immaculate UNESCO site like the city of Urbino, as well as in never heard before tiny villages which are equal in beauty. They feel like they can really connect intimately with this land and this feeling, unfortunately, is no longer exclusive in other parts of Italy, especially in regions and cities which are literally invaded by tourism throughout the year. There are even those who fall in love to the point of buying a house and come and live here. There are many northern Europeans who now live here, who have learned Italian and have started their own business. In our area, the province of Pesaro and Urbino, there a large community of Dutch, German and English residents. I mean, who come and visit Le Marche often return, and sometimes…with a one-way ticket! To promote a niche tourism attentive to details and to tradition ‘Merry le Marche’ will become tour operator shortly, supporting an experiential tourism that brings our clients to savor every moment of their stay and to live their journey not as a quick gateway but as a total experience and awareness.

A special thanks to Elisa, Chiara and Nadia for sharing this beautiful interview with Discovermarche and all the best with their upcoming merry projects!

Please find out more at:

As well as their official Facebook page: here

Francesca Sparvoli, the TruffleLady of New York

Keeping on talking about the truffles, the precious ‘diamonds’ that can be found in the Marche, today we are going to introduce someone who supplies rare truffles to high-end New York City restaurants. We met Francesca Sparvoli, better known as the TruffleLady of New York and we talked about her experience as an entrepreneur and importer in the USA.

Francesca Sparvoli, better known as the "TruffleLady" of New York

Francesca Sparvoli, better known as the “TruffleLady” of New York

  • Why did you decide to move from the Marche to New York and how long have you been living here? Did you move by yourself?

I moved to New York with my partner Marco in August 2012. As many other people, we were looking for a business opportunity outside of our country, Italy, which is currently in the midst of a very deep recession. 

  • How did you come up with the idea of importing truffles in the States?

Marco is a very smart entrepreneur with excellent skills in statistical and economic surveys. In 2011 a close friend involved him in reviving the business of a company that traded mushrooms and truffles. Thanks to our knowledge of the American market and our personal contacts in the Marche,  we took the decision to try to drive the business of the company abroad.



  •  Which difficulties did you have to deal with to step your business into the US market and are you still dealing with them?

I think the New York market is one of the most competitive in the world. Problems never end, especially when it comes to any kind of small business. We are totally focused on quality, certified Italian origin of our products and high-end service. However, you must never lower your focus not even for a second, otherwise you’ll lose out. I get up early in the morning, workout to stay fit (well, this work is also physical), I answer to emails, I do bookkeeping, prepare the truffles and then: ready to go! All these steps must be done before the competition has drink their first sip of coffee.

Francesca offers a wide range of other truffle-infused products...

Francesca offers a wide range of other truffle-infused products…

...and the packaging is all about a "TruffleLady"!

…and the packaging is all about a “TruffleLady”!

  •  Through our blog we are trying to promote the Marche region, which is still little-known abroad despite its immense cultural and natural heritage and a wide culinary offer. Among other many resources ‘made in Marche’ we also include truffles. With your business not only you trade truffles abroad, but I guess, you often has to explain the origin of this precious tuber, as well. So, how hard is it to promote or even to advertise the existence of the Marche region overseas?

It is actually very difficult. Starting from the name: “Marce ‘? Marke ‘? How do you spell it? “I always wonder why ‘. We don’t have the international tourism of Tuscany or of other big cities, yet. They did not even name our region in English: there is Florence in Tuscany, or Turin in Piedmont…



Wines and local products can be a good promotional tool. When it comes to truffles we still have to fight with the more popular truffles from the city of Alba. As for wines, the Verdicchio is the only label known out of our country. To the great despair of sommeliers of the greatest restaurants that bother me every time balming about the near absence of wine labels from the Marche. Also, the certifications required for exporting cured meats are very complicated, but we won’t give up our dream of exporting the “ciauscolo” of the Marche” (a local salami)

The 'ciauscolo', a local traditional salami from the Marche

The ‘ciauscolo’, a local traditional salami from the Marche

  •  What’s the thing you miss the most of Italy and, in particular, of the Marche, now that you’re living abroad?

Anything! Family, friends, the food, the weather, the landscape, the friendliness and especially the tranquillity. Everybody’s stressed out here, the rythm of life is so ektic that a sick person on the train is not even considered as a human-being, but as an obstacle in our crazy path, though. We are harassed by millions of loud noise in an urban environment that is mostly dirty and hostale. And I have to admit that I was deeply in love with this city in the past. They say in order to survive here, you have to go away for the weekend at least once a month. Rarely done in three years. Could this be the reason?

Francesca together with the chef Matt Storch of the renowned "Match restaurant"

Francesca together with the chef Matt Storch of the renowned “Match restaurant”

  •  Francesca, you’re also known as the “Truffle Lady” of New York. Where does this ‘name’ come from?

Customers started calling me this way, especially because Done4ny (which is the name of our company) did not sound as catchy. Marco loved the name so much that he decided to set the marketing campaign on it, branding also preserved truffles products under the “Truffle Lady” name. One day, a customer told us: “There might be many ladies with truffles but only one Truffle Lady”.

TruffleLady and Done4NY

TruffleLady and Done4NY

  •  What is the thing that fascinates most the Americans about the truffles?

Those who have tasted it at least once, they adore its scent. I think most people appreciate the flavor, while many other are attracted by the knowledge that it is a culinary rarity nature allows just for a few months a year, at least for white truffles.

"White truffle mission"...accomplished!

“White truffle mission”…accomplished!

Then they go crazy in getting to know how much it takes for such a unique treat to get found and reach our table: the search with the dog, the cold days in the woods, the care in digging gently while the dog goes crazy with happiness, the rush to sale and the often exhausting negotiations with our collaborators, the cleaning, the selection, the enormous waste before getting the approval to get into the US market, the drive to the airport, the customs procedures, the ride in the cargo area of New York, the anxious waiting of inspection, the third inspection before being submitted to the judgment of the chef …and then finally…to the plate. All those steps in 48 hours and 36 hours to sell them once the truffles land in New York. People say working in the stock market is stressful…they have never tried this adrelin that makes us feel so exhausted at night but still very happy.10368329_10204185407695391_5540328345066136122_o

A special thanks to Francesca&Marco for this interesting interview!

Please find more infos on their official website: “Done4NY” and please follow Francesca on all social networks to get her latest news!

Ishita and her passion for Italy…her dream about visiting the Marche!

Dear friends, today we are here with a nice interview with friend and ‘colleague’ Ishita Sood.

In fact, Ishita is the author of the blog “Italophilia” which, as you may guess from its title, is a blog about her greatest passion: Italy! We asked Ishita to tell us more about her love for the “Bel Paese” and how she got inspiration to write a blog about our beautiful country…and much more!

Ishita Sood found in Italy her inspiration to write the blog "Italophilia"

Ishita Sood found in Italy her inspiration to write the blog “Italophilia”

Please go on reading our post to find it out…

  • Where are you originally from and when did you start to be interested in visiting Italy?

“Hello, Ciao, Namaste!” It’s great to be here on DiscoverMarche. So I am from Simla, a town in the Himalayas in India. I was always fascinated with the Colloseum as a teenager but never really thought I’d make my way there so soon. Italy really picqued my interest when I first thought of visiting it in 2012.

  • When and where did you visit Italy for the very first time? Did you travel by yourself, with family or friends?

I visited Italy in 2013 with a friend from college. We traveled to several towns and big cities such as Rome, Milan, Florence along with the area of Montespertoli, Biassa, Cinque Terre, Portovenere. It was an experience of a lifetime although a bit rushed I’d say.

  • How many times have you been to Italy so far?

You won’t believe if I tell you that I have only been there twice! Yes! But it seems as if Italy was in my blood since forever.

  • Can you tell us more about your feelings after visiting Italy? Was there anything in particular that you missed of the “Belpaese” after coming back home?

I remember the moment I left Italy and caught a flight to Barcelona, I felt as if I was missing something. I missed the food, the streets…the people! I didn’t enjoy Barcelona (sadly) as much as I wanted to or hoped I would.

  • You’re also a blogger of a very interesting blog called “Italophilia”. Can you tell us when did you start thinking to open it and what did inspire you in particular to write about your journeys to Italy?

Thank you for reading and following my blog. It really means a lot! “Italophilia” was quite well thought. It was a few months after coming back from Italy in 2013 that I decided to start writing on my blog that only existed till now on a single post. I thought that if I document my own travels il have something to go back to and savour. I wasn’t sure whether anyone would read it (like most bloggers feel in the beginning) but I still took the step and started “Italophilia”, a term I had read after coming from Italy.


A blog to write about Italy and share her journeys’ experience with other travellers…here’s “Italophilia!”

  • Before travelling to Italy: where did you look for information and advice about places to visit and stay? Through books, online websites or other bloggers?

Before traveling to Italy, I was following a few bloggers on Twitter. Their blogs helped. I sought help from Lonely Planet guide and also asked a friend’s friend who regularly visits Florence every year. I was on a budget trip so my places to stay included B&Bs and Hostels.

  • Which aspects of Italian life did you like the most and which ones looked more ‘unusual’ to you?

I think the one aspect that really intrigues me till date is how little of life we enjoy here in India, and how much the Italians respect and enjoy “Life”. They really know how to relish every moment of their day whether it is coffee at the bar or a lavish lunch. One thing that struck me unusual was how the smaller towns shut their life after lunch and opened work/shops after 430 or 5. I found it quite insane to halt work just for their sleep or relaxation. But I think I understand it a little better now.

  • What did you enjoy most about visiting Italy and about the Italian lifestyle?

I love the aperitivo time. Absolutely! Everyone comes at socializes and catches up about their day.. A great selection of drinks and munchies and lot of gossip. I miss that time of the day and how it is spent in Italy.

  • What’s your favorite Italian food?

My favorite Italian food has to be tagliatelle with black truffle oil.

Ishita, when you come to the don't forget to visit the town of Acqualagna: famous all around the world for its exquisite black truffles!!!

Ishita, when you come to the Marche don’t forget to visit the town of Acqualagna: famous all around the world for its exquisite black truffles!!!

  • Do you have any particolar recollection related to one of your journeys that you will never forget?

As a matter of fact I do. Something that I am deeply grateful for . I was traveling from Orveito to Perugia when someone at the train station tried to get hold of my bag. There was a middle aged Italian couple who didn’t know English but I explained to them through gestures that I was scared. They understood me and protected me from that man. Not only this, they gave me number of taxi and police in case I have any problem reaching to Perugia. We boarded the same train and they made sure I sit with them. They were by my side till I changed my train in Cortona. Thankfully I never saw that man again but that couple (who were from Florence) stay in my heart forever. I regret not having their email or a contact number to thank them.

  • What is your favorite place you visited so far?

Its hard to pick one place in Itay. It is all so beautiful and gorgeous. But if I had to I would choose between Florence and Trieste.

  • What are your top tips to anyone considering travelling to Italy for their very first time?

Don’t go with a set of to dos. Or make it rushed. Maybe just a few places and try to enjoy them. I went to Rome for 4 days but I think I should have spent a week just there to get to really understand Rome. Also, validate your ticket before you board the train. Haha!

  • Why should people visit Italy?

To understand love, beauty, art, food and friendship…All of it together is there in every town, city, region of Bel Paese.

  • Your blog aims to tell about Italy and inspire other people by your travels. In a similar way, through our blog we love to talk about the Marhe as “the” region to visit in Italy, since we know many people still don’t know much about it. We try to incentivate travellers from all around the world to find out more about the Marche and its local tradition. Have you ever heard about this area of Italy before reading our blog?

I have heard about this beautiful region and I should tell you I am dying to visit Ascoli Piceno. I have seen it in pictures and read several blog posts. All of them have enticed me to just pack my bags and leave, “pronto!”

People's Square - Ascoli Piceno

People’s Square – Ascoli Piceno

  • So, are you really thinking about visiting the Marche in one of your upcoming journeys?

I definitely want to visit Marche of Italy. Urbino is another town that I want to go to along with Offida. Maybe see the ladies who make the hand woven lace. Ah! You are getting me all dreamy!

Ducale Palace in Urbino

Ducale Palace in Urbino

In the hope of having our dear friend Ishita visiting and…also writing about the Marche region soon, we really want to say:


…for this beautiful interview and collaboration!

Ishita, looking forward to seeing you soon!!!

Ishita, looking forward to seeing you soon!!!

Please don’t forget to visit and follow Ishita’s blog “Italophilia” and her latest updates on Twitter!

Neil and Terry Duarte: from Texas to Le Marche…to really feel at home!

DSC05525Even if I’m currently living away from Italy, I never forget my origin and my roots. Although my new urban life really fascinates me, I always feel deeply connected to my region: Le Marche.

During our stop at the B&B Vento di Rose in Monterubbiano, I met the Duarte’s, a couple of guests from Texas, who visit Le Marche every year. Exchanging my travel and life experiences with Neil and Terry was such a great emotion.

Neil and Terry Duarte: they're totally in love with Le Marche!

Neil and Terry Duarte: they’re totally in love with Le Marche!

Getting to know how much they love the Marche and the people they’ve met here over the years…I must admit I started feeling homesick and the desire to come back to my town was tempting.

The Marche region

The Marche region

My conversation with this extraordinary couple, who have found in the Marche their destination for a perfect holiday, began with an appreciation from Terry:

“When we discovered Le Marche in 2012, we knew that we would be returning often since there is so much beauty to see and and so much to do. We always arrive with a list of places to visit and things to do, but we never make it through the list because we find other things to see or do that we didn’t even know about. Emidio {owner of the B&B Vento di Rose} is an excellent guide! I think he knows everyone in southern Marche and can arrange visits to wineries, pasta factories, pottery makers; all of which are tucked away in the beautiful countryside or in small towns. Riding along the back roads is always an adventure.”

So let’s get started and find out more about their feelings for Le Marche…

1) What do you do for a living today?

We are both retired and live near Austin, Texas in the USA.

2) When did you first become interested in Italy?

Before we retired, we had made several visits to various parts of Italy including the “standard” American tourist visit to Rome and Tuscany. We loved the scenery, the food, the wine and most of all the people. We decided that we wanted to explore the real Italy and see the countryside, not just the cities. As a result we began to visit various regions including Piedmont, Veneto, Friuli and Umbria.

3) Why did you visit Marche?

During our research about the various areas of Italy, we noted that there were a number of references to the beauty and culture of Marche. We also had a friend who had visited Marche several times and spoke very highly about the region. As a result we decided to plan a visit and see for ourselves what Marche was.

4) When was your initial visit?

Our first visit was in 2012. We stayed in an agritursimo in the northern part of Marche near Gallo, then drove to B&B Terra Mossa outside of Poggio San Marcello and finished at Agritursimo Vento di Rose outside of Monterubbiano.

The beautiful B&B Vento di Rose outside Monterubbiano owned by Emidio and Emanuela

The beautiful “B&B Vento di Rose” outside Monterubbiano owned by Emidio and Emanuela

5) What did you think of Marche?

The first thing that impressed us was the beauty of the region. We came in the spring and everything was so green and alive.

Le Marche: a region where nature has stunning colors

Le Marche’s landscape: full of vibrant and stunning colors all over the year

Next we noted the excellent food. If we wanted seafood, the Adriatic Coast was close and inland you found delicious meat dishes. Complementing these were the superb Marche wines, both red and white.

Wine: one of the many excellent resources of Le Marche

Wine: one of the many excellent resources of Le Marche

6) Since you have returned every year since 2012, what is the most important reason for your returns?

The countryside, food and wine are all excellent, but we return for the people. In most of the other parts of Italy that we have visited, the people have been very friendly, but in Marche we really felt at home.

Terry is preparing the delicious Tagliatelle following the traditional recipe from Le Marche

Terry is making some delicious homemade Tagliatelle following the traditional recipe from Le Marche

As a hobby I write about Italian wines on and since our first visit to Marche our reception at various wineries has been most enjoyable. We now consider these people to be our good friends.

Neil and Emidio, owner of the B&B Vento di Rose in Monterubbiano

Neil and Emidio, owner of the B&B Vento di Rose in Monterubbiano

7) What would you tell other visitors considering Marche as a destination? 

If you want an enjoyable holiday in Italy you should consider Marche where you are not overrun by busloads of tourists, where the people are both friendly and helpful, and the food and wine reasonable and excellent.

Le Marche is one of our favorite places and we can’t wait to return over and over again!

Discovermarche logoThanks Neil and Terry,  for sharing your experience with Discovermarche!

A nice story of an English family expat…in the Marche (Italy)!

Empire Stae Building in Italian colors

Empire Stae Building of NYC in Italian colors

I’m an Italian girl from the Marche, living now in New York. As an expat I often get homesick. I’m not only missing people I love, but also the places were I used to live for so many years. I love my new life, but in my mind I relive the wonders of my land.

Martin, David and their son George

Martin, David and their son George


The Roccolo Cottage

Meeting Martine and David Albon, owners of the Roccolo Holiday Cottage in Ascoli Piceno (Italy), was like sharing the same experience with friends. I was very curious to know how and why a family that comes from a prosperous country like the UK, has decided to leave everything and to try to live abroad.

I’ll tell you their experience…

1) Where are you both originally from and when/where did you move to Le Marche? Did you move with family?

  • We are Martine, David and George Albon. We moved to Le Marche from the United Kingdom in 2012. We are all English but David grew up in Kenya. George was seven when we moved here.

 2) What inspired you to move to Italy and particularly…why Le Marche region to set up your own B&B?

  • Martine has family and friend links to the area and on previous holidays David fell in love with the landscape here too. We always knew we wanted to move away from the UK and in 2012 an opportunity presented itself, so we took it. Ascoli Piceno is perfect for us as it is close to the mountains and the sea and has pretty good schooling for George! Our ideal holidays were always where we could be active in the mountains and relax by the sea so we felt that offering holiday accommodation which gave the best of both worlds was ideal. There are very few places which give this flexibility.
    Sea and...

    Sea and…



3) How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?

  • We had been holidaying in Italy for many years before moving here and so were familiar with much of the daily life here. Martine spoke Italian already which helped very much at the beginning. It was much harder for David and George who spoke no Italian then. George speaks very good Italian three years on and is doing well at school. It is still hard for David, mainly because we work at home and so he doesn’t get to practice his language very much! Things do work differently here and it does take some time to work out how to do the simplest things but we settled quite quickly. I think it was easier for us because of George, if you have a small child at school you have to adapt quickly and make friends. I think it must be much harder for those who retire here and have no natural link to the community.

4) How does the Italian culture differ from home? Which aspect of Italian life was most difficult to get used to?

  • Life is more spontaneous here. In UK plans were made weeks in advance and life was much busier. Here people wait to see what the weather will be like and what they feel like before making too many plans. Here a friend may phone to say ” the weather is lovely, lets go for a walk by the sea this afternoon” . In UK they would have been booked up for weeks in advance and would not be able to take advantage of a beautiful afternoon to go for a walk by the sea. We really like this!

5) What are the locals like? Do you mix mainly with other expats?

  • There are not so many expats in the south of Le Marche so we don’t have a wide network of expat friends. We do know a few people further north but it is too far to visit too often! We moved here with our seven year old son and so we have met many local people through school. As in UK, the parents of his friends have also become our friends. As we love the mountains, we also joined the Local section of the Club Alpino Italiano and have made friends there too. The Ascolani are very proud of their town and culture and rightly so. Most people are very happy to share information on the local area and advise us on all sorts of things and we have been made to feel very welcome both by people in the town and by our neighbours here on the mountain, one of whom spends much time teaching us all he knows about the local agriculture. We have learnt all we know about the care and harvesting of our many chestnut trees from him.

6) Is there anything you miss about living in UK?

  • Cheddar cheese!

7) What do you enjoy most about living in le Marche and the Italian lifestyle?

  • The food, the sunshine, the spontaneity of the people.

8) What’s your favorite Italian food (or even better: from Le Marche)?

  • Pizza- we have our own wood burning oven which a friend has taught us to use properly. Pasta- Ascolana is good with tomato, capers, olives,onion, tuna but also truffle and mushroom sauces with the black truffle being grown locally. The best has to be the Olive Ascolana- our local pasta shop (La Madia, Ascoli Piceno) makes the traditional meat version and also a tuna one and a vegetarian one, they are the best in the Marche! The Rosso Piceno wines are pretty amazing too!


    The wood burning oven where the Albons make their own pizzas at the Roccolo Cottage

9) With your B&B you guest people from different areas and countries interested in discovering Le Marche. What are their feelings about our region?

  • So far we have hosted guests from America, UK, Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy. All have loved it here, both the beauty and variety of landscapes and the peace that is found here at Il Roccolo. Ascoli Piceno is obviously a favourite to visit but many have also visited various vineyards and those with children particularly like the safe, clean sandy beaches.

    View from the Roccolo Holiday Cottage

    Amazing view from the Roccolo Holiday Cottage

10) In our blog we try to incentivate people from all the world to find out more about Le Marche and its local tradition. What do you love the most about Le Marche and what’s the biggest difference if compared to other Italian regions?

  • We like the fact that people here take time for their friends and family and that they are more spontaneous than the British and also the more northern Italians. This is also true in their work lives so that they always take the time to talk to you in restaurants for example and are happy to take time to help people who visit. Summer is much busier than winter with various festivals happening in villages and towns. The Quintana in Ascoli Piceno and Templaria in Castignano being two very good examples. We love all the different types of markets that travel around too.

11) How difficult was getting a work visa/permit?

  • Not really applicable as we are from the EU.

12) Did you experience many difficulties in setting up your business?

  • Not so far

13) How does the Italian work culture differ from your country?

  • Home life is still more important here than work. Italians work really hard and are very conscientious generally but their home lives and family are still really important and so they make sure that they have time for their families as well as work. This is one of the main reasons we decided to move here.

14) How does cost of living compare to home?

  • Just as expensive as UK. Some everyday items are cheaper and eating out is definitely cheaper but electricity and gas are SO expensive that I really cannot say that it is cheaper here. And there are taxes on Everything!

15) What negatives, if any, are there to living in Italy?

  • Electricity and gas prices…we have tried to make our business ecological and have solar electricity and water and heating powered by wood from our land but we still pay more in bills here than we ever did in UK!

16) What are your top tips to any future expats or people considering moving to Italy from abroad?

  • Learn as much of the language as you can before you move, it makes it much easier to make friends and links in the community.

17) In retrospective is there anything you would change?

  • We live at 600m above Ascoli Piceno. The temperature is lovely in the summer when we have guests in our cottage but in the winter it can be quite hard! We may have chosen to live a little lower down if we could have done it again!

18) Why should people visit and discover Le Marche?

  • Variety. There is something for everyone here. Beautiful weather and landscape. Mountains, sea with sandy beaches, good food, olive oil and top level wines, historical hilltop (and valley) towns, artisan produce, many sporting activites, summer festivals. People who are friendly and genuinely happy to welcome you to their home area.

19) You are also writing a blog.  Can you tell us a bit about it and when/why did you start your blog?

  • We started a blog when we first arrived to let our friends and family know how we were getting on. It evolved to tell potential guests about life here in the Marche with the hope of attracting more people to visit. Last year we then decided that the format of facebook was easier to use in terms of showing photos and so we started a facebook page specifically to show potential guests our rental cottage, the grounds it is set in and the area that they might visit from here.

20) Can you please give us the links to visit your website and Facebook page?