BroccaneraRolling around the windy hills of terrains unknown to us, in search of a little village named Piticchio, we took a turn toward Montale, almost calling defeat and consulting the map we stole from our bed-and-breakfast (we returned it, all intact, no worries).  But, before we could look down at the map, we saw a sign pointing to the left, advertising a vignetto.  We exchanged a glance, and, without a word, turned the car in that direction.  Who can pass up a vineyard, especially in the land of verdicchio?  Not us.

Mid-December, mid-afternoon: it was deserted as we pulled into the parking lot.  But, Gregory has no fear, and knocked on the door.  “Prego, entrate!” was the response, from somewhere deep within.  We didn’t hesitate and jumped out of the cold.

Broccanera2Taking a break from putting together dozens of Christmas baskets, the master of the vineyard welcomed us properly and asked us if we would like a look around.  When we nodded enthusiastically, he pointed down at the floor; we noticed that it is made out of glass, so, we were, in effect, standing directly above their distillery room.  A bit nerve-wracking for those with a fear of heights (same with the long staircase made out of glass, leading down into the cellars), but pretty cool, nonetheless.  We then got a proper tour of the estate, met the owner, and got a detailed explanation of their history, wine varieties, and bottling process.  To top it off, we each got a “sample” of their three wines, each of which consisted of half a wine glass and a bowl of munchies.  We left with out hearts and hands full, and heads pretty light.

Broccanera1They currently produce two different types of verdicchio: Cantaro and Suprino.  Both are DOC and boast an intriguing palette.  Cantaro is their first wine, and is a little bit lighter in color; it has a strange balance of fruit (especially pear) and the warmth of the earth, all coated with a hint of anise that is particular to this region’s land.  The Suprino is a bit easier to sip and carries tastes of lilies and subtle licorice.  They also produce a red (Asco), which is heavier-bodied and brings to mind forests during late summer.  Their oils we did not have an opportunity to taste, but, if they are anything like their wines, they are doubtlessly of a well-balanced and deliciously new palette.

Where tradition of the land and futuristic fantasies of design converge, Broccanera is a vineyard that is at once welcoming and intriguing.  We eagerly await the next batch of wines to be released from the cellars of this vineyard!

Montale (AN)
Tel: 0731 075144

Locanda Nemorosa

Nemorosa7Locanda Nemorosa is an agriturismo/bed-and-breakfast a couple of minutes outside of Montecarotto, in the region of Ancona.  In addition to an outside pool, there is a spa available for use by guests; a gigantic bathtub, a shower nook, a couple of lounge chairs, a vast selection of lotions/scents/salts, and a remote control that has the power to completely change the mood of the spa room with a click of a button.  There is one honeymoon suite, which comes with a fireplace and a kitchen (complete with basics, all kitchen appliances, and a fridge/freezer); the rest of the rooms come with a homemade breakfast in the morning with ingredients from as close to the garden as possible.  There is also a ‘common room’, which has hundreds of books, boards games, CD’s, marmalades, and teas for your enjoyment.  Outside is a BBQ space, ping pong tables, swings, a basketball hoop, and other seasonal treasures.  Whether you are traveling with children or need a romantic weekend away from reality, we highly recommend this establishment!

Nemorosa11In short, this is our ideal house: an old farmhouse in the Marche countryside converted into a cozy house and filled with love.  It is at the end of a long dirt path, so there is absolutely no buzz of traffic or lights from towns for miles.  Just you and the stars and complete silence in the middle of the night.  Inside, the attention to detail and choice of decoration is exquisite; everything from the tea spoons to the bedding has been picked with care and matches a rustic, warm feeling.  If you ever had a dream of staying in an authentic, intimate Italian house, this is the perfect candidate.

What really puts this locanda over the top though are the owners.  Andrea and Rafaella will come out and greet you with open arms upon arrival, help you upstairs, and show you Nemorosa5around with evident enthusiasm for sharing their space.  And if you have a single question or wish, the owners will rush upstairs with a big smile and not leave until everything has been explained or granted (and long, friendly conversations exchanged).  After working as a banker and tourist guide, this couple decided to move out into the countryside and reconnect with the earth.  They rebuilt this old house, and created the bed-and-breakfast out of a passion for their ‘life in simplicity’ and their ability to share it with others.  They have a list of suggestion for things to do in the surrounding areas (there are many vineyards, little villages for more rustic charm, and long, winding roads for walks), or will entertain you on their ground with their vast assembly of pets- cats and rabbits and dogs and chickens and honey bees.

Nemorosa6From the large (the comfortable wooden beds and thick quilts) to the small (the ice cubes waiting for us in the fridge when Gregory called ahead and told them how he wanted to surprise Julia with a spritz before a romantic at-home dinner), everything you need possibly may need is provided.

Locanda Nemorosa
Montecarotto (AN)
tel. 0731.710755


During our stay at Locanda Nemorosa, we took a day to drive around the region of Montecarotto.  The entire area of land is scattered with little towns and vineyards; it’s quite the landscape to slowly float around through on a lazy afternoon without an agenda.  And, while there are so many various paesini scattered throughout the land, many of them barely marked, they each seem to hold something special, and people always suggest them with enthusiasm.  I’m not quite sure just what it is that makes them each so unique, as after a dozen of these thick-walled, top-of-the-hill clusters of deserted houses, the rooftops start to blur together… but, while there, there is a special excitement just for being there, and I would happily suggest each little, nameless town to anyone.  Just because.

On a cold December Friday afternoon, the only souls we ran across in Palazzo were a couple of cats and a few construction workers.  So, there’s no caffe’ or presepe to boast about.  But, it’s a nice collection of streets to run around through (or crawl through, if you’re trying to get pictures of felines, like me) on your drive through this part of the land.