Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Passport to the World - Journalist Maryke Roberts raves about Gualdo MC and Cancello Est

Cathy Retief-Neil will be sharing interesting insights on Gualdo, Italy on the travel programme, Passport to the world. The very respected travel journalist Maryke Roberts shares insights and travel tips on her recent trip to the village of Gualdo Macerata and particularly to Cancello Est 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Nature Offers A Natural Solution To Sealing And Preserving 16th Century Floor Tiles

We have spent many months researching and experimenting with various solutions for sealing these beautiful antique, hand made tiles in an effort to preserve and protect them.

Part of the problem was in their creation. Each tile is slightly different in size and smoothed using fingers and hands, so lots of little grooves for dust and dirt to collect. The bonus however,  is the children's and animal foot prints that have been buried for hundreds of years.

We were about to give up and go the chemical route when a friend, Paula  Ryan,  arrived with a beautiful house-warming gift and asked if we had tried Raw Linseed Oil (also known as Raw Flaxseed Oil) and Beeswax?

So we set to work - the tiles are very porous and soak up all the Linseed Oil. So thirsty in fact that it took three very generous coats before they stopped drinking it all in.

Next came the beeswax or Cera as its known locally - which also took three coats.

We are really pleased with the outcome particularly as it is a totally natural. An environmentally friendly solution that has really brought the tiles back to life with a warm natural glow. Just needed this sound advice from Paula, plenty of elbow grease and some warm autumn days to get a really good result. Thank you Paula!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Bridal Suites ready for Opening in September

The renovations at Cancello Est are nearing completion and all being well we should be open for business in September. Two of the Bridal Suites are just about complete and are looking splendid - all we need to add now is a Bride and Groom to the one and  a romantic second honeymoon couple to the other.

The marble bathrooms are fabulous and you can shower or bath with breathtaking views of the mountains and the Sibilini National Park.

Sarnano Suite - En suite (bath and Shower), 16th Century Fresco, Extra-long King size Bed 

Sarnano Suite Marbled bathroom (shower, and double hand basins)

Smerillo Suite complete with private lounge area

A loo with a view - Smerillo Suite Marbled Bathroom

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A Meal I Waited 55 Years For!

Well, its finally happened - I have had the best meal of my life. Today we went to Restaurant Il Tiglio in the mountainous village of Montemonaco which is nestled in the stunningly breathtaking Sibillini National Park. The weather was glorious which made the 45 minute trip there wonderful.

We sat at 12h30 and finally had some coffee at 16h30 - what a wonderful way to spend your birthday - special friends, special food and of course exceptional wine! A cellar here to be marvelled catalogued as a old bible  of wine

Here are some highlights of the 11 course degustation menu - well worth a visit when you are in Marche. There were other courses but in my excitement for the food, I forgot to take pictures.

White Truffle Ice Cream to tease the Mouth with Parmesan Fitters

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and different salts to tease the palate 

Tongue with basil and herb salad 

Carrot cooked with a curry jus and pureed carrot (Grapefruit Foam - yummy)

Mushrooms, Mushrooms and Mushrooms

Fois Gras

Cinghale Ragu with a lime sauce  
Pigeon with cherries 

Herb ice cream with crushed almonds and basil tea 

Milk chocolate mousse with beer ice cream and rich chocolate 

Hazelnut ice cream 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Bridal Suite Antiques Brought Back to Life

Another great find at Cancello Est - antique bedroom furniture which will now grace the Sarnano Suite. We found the furniture in the basement of the building and have had it restored by Frederico in Macerata. 

Frederico, during the restoration,  found written in pencil underneath one of the drawers "to a loving daughter on her birthday - September 1901". 

There is also a label that says the furniture was made in Santangelo in Pontano one of our neighbouring villages.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Recycling 16th Century Floor Tiles

Finally we have reached the flooring stage and are able to recycle the original terracotta tiles from the original medieval building. We discovered these hidden beneath 60 cms of ash, sand and rubble that had been placed for new floors over the centuries. The end result will be amazing - wonderful hues of honey, yellow red and the design pattern is looking stunning. Next stage is sanding, sealing and polishing. 

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Fresco is now a Fresci (we have two now so its Plural)

The Second of our four Fresci is now complete. So different to the first one that was discovered. 

There is a gold motif with white and red roses (looks a bit like a Tudor Rose)

Adriana, our fresco expert and restorer, has done some research and has come up with some ideas of what the buildings that are depicted represent. 

The Fresco dates from around 1625 and the structures in the corners represent either properties the family owned, or buildings that had a sentimental attachment to the family.

The first is the Old Medieval Tower of Gualdo that sat in the centre of the town square. Sadly, this collapsed in one of the earthquakes last century.

The Medieval Tower of Gualdo
The second image is, we believe,  the old church in Vecciola that has had a lot of remodelling over the years. Adriana thinks, that perhaps, this was the church where one of the family members worshipped and could be,  the church of the wife where they were married. (What a great wedding album) 

The third picture is a depiction of Cancello Est as it was many years ago  with steps (no longer there) leading up to the south side of the property.

The final image is of the families hunting lodge which can still be seen at Passo St Angelo.

What a brilliant way to preserve family history for future generations.
The Old Church at Vecciola

The Original House
The Hunting Lodge at Passo St Angelo

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Richard Loring talks about his visit to Gualdo on South African Radio

Cathy Retief-Neil will be sharing interesting insights on Gualdo, Italy on our travelling programme, Passport to the world. The very respected impresario/playwright, Richard Loring will be visiting us at Radio Helderberg. 

Some artists hit the top spot as singers, others as screen idols, and others as stage actors. Armed with extensive stage, singing and film experience, looks and loads of ambition, RICHARD LORING has done all three and achieved incredible success in the entertainment field as singer, movie star and stage actor.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Spring Flowers Coming into their Glory

Tulips welcoming Spring ( and some fantastic warm weather in Gualdo). After such a long winter the colours really give a lift to the soul with promises of summer to come.

Spring time is one of Marches' best kept secrets!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Spring is Busting out all Over!

Spring has sprung, temperatures rising daily and after a chilly winter everything is is bud and starting to look glorious. Its the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Great day out to Ascoli Piceno

The town lies at the confluence of the Tronto River and the small river Castellano and is surrounded on three sides by mountains. Two natural parks border the town, one on the northwestern flank (Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini) and the other on the southern (Parco Nazionale dei Monti della Laga).

Ascoli was founded by an Italic population (Piceni) several centuries before Rome's founding on the important Via Salaria, the salt road that connected Latium with the salt production areas on the Adriatic coast. In 268 BC it became acivitas foederata, a "federated" city with nominal independence from Rome. In 91 BC, together with other cities in central Italy, it revolted against Rome, but in 89 BC was reconquered and destroyed by Pompeius Strabo. Its inhabitants acquired Roman citizenship, following the developments and the eventual fall of the Roman Empire.
During the Middle Ages Ascoli was ravaged by the Ostrogoths and then by the Lombards of King Faroald (578). After nearly two centuries as part of the Lombard Duchy of Spoleto (593-789), Ascoli was ruled by the Franks through their vicars, but ultimately it was the bishops that gained influence and power over the city.

In 1189 a free republican municipality was established but internal strife led dramatically to the demise of civic values and freedom and to unfortunate ventures against neighboring enemies. This unstable situation opened the way to foreign dictatorships, like those of Galeotto I Malatesta (14th century), initially recruited as a mercenary (condottiero) in the war against Fermo, and Francesco Sforza. Sforza was ousted in 1482, but Ascoli was again compelled to submit to the Papal suzerainty. In 1860 it was annexed, together with Marche and Umbria, into the newly unified Kingdom of Italy.

The central historical part of the city is built in marble called travertino, a grey-hued stone extracted from the surrounding mountains. Its central Renaissance square, Piazza del Popolo ("Square of the People") is considered one of the most beautiful in Italy. According to traditional accounts, Ascoli Piceno was home to more than two hundred towers in the Middle Ages: today some fifty can still be seen.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Second Fresco Being Revealed and Looking Stunning!

Now the warmer weather is here, work is moving at a fast pace at Cancello Est. Our June opening is starting to become a reality. The Smerillo Suite, our second honeymoon suite (you can read that as the second suite or a great place for a second honeymoon!) has started to reveal the most amazing fresco design which depicts a fairy tale.

In the corners so far, we have a little house with tree, a small castle and brilliant hues of blue and reds. The Two remaining corners, Adriana feels, will be two completely different images. We are getting impatient and can't wait to see more!

Now the job of researching starts so we can find out what these images represents and why they were used in the design.

The gentleman in the picture is Antonio - the brilliant builder who is restoring Cancello Est.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Monti Sibillini National Park, Italy -- National Geographic

Name: Monti Sibillini National Park
Location: Italy
Date Established: 1993
Size: 276 square miles (714 square kilometers)

Did You Know?

• Namesake Mount Sibilla is named for a legendary prophetess named Sibyl. Knights and other petitioners from across Europe made the arduous journey to her remote cave, the story goes, in hopes of gaining a few precious pearls of wisdom.
• Village Charm Eighteen charismatic towns, tucked in and among the mountains, are packed with historic art and abbeys, castles, and medieval town centers that evidence an ancient relationship between the land and its people.
• Towns Each community has its own character. Cessapalombo, meaning “cut-down forest,” dates to the third century B.C. and has a museum to charcoal burning, which was one of the early industries in the area. The valley of Acquacanina is a center of Benedictine abbeys, placed under direct Papal protection in 1192. The fortified town of Arquata is still surrounded by ancient walls and gates. And Visso, home of the park’s headquarters, is set among wooded hills where five river valleys converge in a location so inviting humans settled the spot 900 years before Rome was founded.
• Park Peaks Here in the heart of the Sibillini Mountains ten peaks soar above 6,560 feet (2,000 meters), led by Mount Vettore, which tops out at 8,123 feet (2,476 meters). The mountainous slopes that reach these dizzying heights are cut by narrow valleys and rushing rivers before giving way to pastoral alpine landscapes below the tree line.
• Plants and Animals The park is home to 1,800 plant species and a wild bouquet of mountain flowers including edelweiss, pasqueflowers, martagon lilies, bearberries, and various orchids. Animal life includes wolves and wild mountain cats as well as prickly porcupines. Roe deer have recently been reintroduced. Golden eagles, peregrine falcons, eagles, owls, goshawks, snow finches, and sparrow hawks fill the skies. And small invertebrates are among the more interesting inhabitants—several live nowhere else on Earth except in a lake here.
• Local Flavor The Sibillini Mountains have some outstanding culinary offerings. Perched between the Marches and Umbria, a smorgasbord of cured meats is always on offer. Other tasty local fare includes apples, honey, truffles, mushrooms, chestnuts, chickpeas, and vin cotto or cooked wine.

How to Get There

Trains stop in Ascoli Piceno, Spoleto, and Camerino. Bus routes also serve these towns and reach Fermo as well.

When to Visit

Winters in the mountains are cold and snowy yet beautiful, especially to cross-country skiers and other winter sport enthusiasts. And the region’s thermal springs are especially welcome at this time. Spring brings the blooming of alpine flowers, and when truly warm weather hits the entire spectrum of outdoor activities is in full swing.

How to Visit

Monti Sibillini National Park is an adventure sport center. Mountain biking, horseback riding, hang gliding, paragliding, and climbing are all popular activities here. But other visitors happily stick to town streets and enjoy the artistic, cultural, culinary, and historic traditions that have arisen and endured here over the centuries.
Monti Sibillini National Park, Italy -- National Geographic

Monday, 11 March 2013

Bridal Suite Frescoes Finally Finished

 This was so worth waiting the 9 weeks of toil by the talented Adriana! Talk about a work of love! True Artistry and now preserved for future generations. This was not a restoration, this is about leaving a legacy!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Jamie's Great Italian Escape - E04 - Le Marche PART 3

Jamie's Great Italian Escape - E04 - Le Marche PART 2

Jamie's Great Italian Escape - E04 - Le Marche PART 1

Vino Cotto Production Area to be Revamped

The Cantina area of Cancello is has revealed so many secrets. The Vino Cotto production area sadly has to be demolished to make room for the Dining Room and formal Guest Lounge. 

The revamped area will open out onto the sun deck and pool and have amazing views over the Sibillini National park and the mountains.

We will be able to retain some of the features such as the fire place for roaring fires in the winter (and run the underfloor central heating).

There is also a "grape duct" that we will save. This runs through the house for three storeys from the village road side - it was used to unload the grapes and deposit them straight into the Cantina for treading.

Sadly the Vino Cotto boiler will have to go as it takes up too much room. However, we should be able to save the copper boiler and of course the antique barrels (date stamped 1904). Now the challenge is to find ways of recycling these.  Plant pots seems such a shame!

Vino cotto (literally cooked wine) is a form of wine from MarcheAbruzzo and Calabria in Southern Italy. It is typically made by individuals for their own use, rather than commercially, however, now becoming more popular and also known to chefs. The must, from any of several local varieties of grapes, is heated in a copper vessel where it is reduced in volume by up to a third. The must is not to undergo fermentation before it is heated. Once reduced and allowed to cool it is aged in storage for a few years. It is a ruby-colored wine, somewhat similar to Madeira, being slightly sweet with no alcohol content.