The Authentic Italian Experience with Luisa - One Week Holiday in Le Marche

Palazzo Donati - kitchen with fireplace Palazzo Donati - vicolo Palazzo Donati - finestra
Palazzo Donati - pasta Palazzo Donati - corso di cucina Palazzo Donati - carpegna
Palazzo Donati - Palazzo Donati - dinner in the main hall Palazzo Donati - lina cucina
Palazzo Donati - padlot Palazzo Donati - easter breakfast

Many visitors to Italy have enjoyed the wonders of Tuscany, but relatively few have discovered and experienced the unique charms of neighboring Le Marche. Here some of the comments of our first visitors:

"I loved it all! thank you for all your planning." "I am so blessed to have been part of such a wonderful, exciting and memorable trip."

"Our stay exceeded all our expectations"

Le Marche is the region in east-central Italy nestled between Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria. Our destination is the bustling village of Mercatello sul Metauro, located at the foot of the Tuscan-Umbrian- Apennine mountains, only a couple of hours east of Florence. Luisa Donati invites you to share a week with her at Palazzo Donati, her family’s home, which dates to the 1700s. Situated on the main square of Mercatello sul Metauro, Palazzo Donati is a private home upgraded with modern amenities. Luisa opens the doors to her family’s Palazzo and invites you to enter the peace and authenticity of a by-gone time. You’ll discover and experience a way of life which preserves the grace and culture of the Renaissance, in a small town largely undiscovered by tourists. Here are some of Luisa’s favorite things that she will share with you. . .

Tasting of Le Marche wines Renaissance ceramics in Urbania Lunch at Isabella’s organic farm, “La Pieve del Colle” with a view of the landscape depicted in Piero della Francesca’s painting “I Trionfi” Cooking class using local wild herbs and flowers Hands-on class in the traditional art of fabric painting Clara, Princess of Carpegna, hosts a private tour of her palace Feast prepared by members of the Accademia del Padlot, a fraternity of nine men dedicated to food preparation, wine tasting, and good times Tour of the stunning underground caves at Grotte di Frasassi Shopping for foodstuffs at the market followed by cooking class taught by a local mama Visit to the paper-making museum in Fabriano and a workshop on the ancient craft of making paper Plenty of free time to shop, meander, and day-dream

Day 1 - Saturday

Transfer by minibus from Florence to Mercatello sul Metauro

Our private driver and tour leader Nicoletta welcomes us in Florence. We will transfer by private van to Mercatello. On arrival at Palazzo Donati, we will settle into the beautiful surroundings. Rest and free time. Early evening, Luisa and Nicoletta will share a welcome apperitivo and discuss the upcoming week. They’ll explain the language program “Italian Express,” a shopping language course that will enable you to interact in Italian with locals. Dinner at Palazzo Donati.

Day 2 - Sunday

Mercatello - Sant’Angelo in Vado

After breakfast Nicoletta, a charming life-long resident of Mercatello, will guide us on a walking tour of the historical center of the town that is small, but full of art, tradition, and surprises.

Then off to an astonishing archeological discovery “The Domus” (Roman Villa) in Sant’Angelo in Vado, home of the prestigious white truffle.

We will stop at the local Enoteca and learn about regional wines and enjoy a private tasting. Back to the Palazzo to relax in the house or garden or stroll around the village feeling like a local. Dinner at a local Osteria.

Day 3 Monday

Urbania - Cooking With Flowers

A visit to the pretty town of Urbania known for its famous Rennaissance ceramics, the Ducal Palace, and the unusual Church of the Dead. Luisa will introduce you to her friends and we will have a light lunch with local products at Isabella’s organic farm, “La Pieve del Colle.” We’ll admire one of the most beautiful and famous Rennaisance views: the landscape in the background of Piero della Francesca’s masterpiece “I Trionfi” which is displayed at the Uffizzi in Florence.

After lunch, we will visit Luisa’s dear friend Anna at Mulino della Ricavata where we will learn how to cook in the traditional way using local wild herbs and flowers. Dinner after the cooking lesson. The restaurant is housed in a converted mill dating to the 1700s.

Day 4 Tuesday

Traditional fabric printing in San Leo—Carpegna

Imagine a studio where, over the centuries, artists have been producing stencils and dyes to make fabric prints in an ancient manner. The studio has been managed by the same family for generations. We will join Emanuele who will teach us how to create this traditional art and we will print our own personalized aprons which will be useful for the upcoming cooking class.

Then off to Carpegna for deep breaths of some of the freshest air on earth. Carpegna has recently been awarded La Bandiera Trasparente—the Transparent Flag—for the astounding purity of its air.

After the workshop, a truly unique opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of Luisa’s friend Clara, Princess of Carpegna, and we will lead us on a tour of her Palace. Then we will join Prince Antonio and Clara for a sampling of the famous prosciutto di Carpegna in a local osteria.

Next, La Rocca di San Leo, an impregnable fortress, with a charming village below. The Fortress tour gives offers breathtaking panaromic views. Pizza in local restaurant.

Day 5 Wednesday

Urbino - Accademia del Padlot

We’ll visit the Renaissance “Ideal City” Urbino, where our local guide will escort us inside the magnificent Palazzo Ducale once home to the Duke of Montefeltro.

After the tour and early light lunch, enjoy free time to shop or walk around the town, and work up an appetite for dinner at Mercatello.

The dinner will be prepared by the Accademia del Padlot, a fraternity of nine local men, dedicated to food, wine and fellowship. These gentlemen prepare a sumptuous dinner with local ingredients and local wine. Their fervor and joy makes this dinner one of the great culinary experiences on earth.

Day 6 Thursday

Le Grotte di Frasassi and Fabriano – The Art of Paper Making

We will experience the Grotte di Frasassi, with its ancient caves and spectacular undergound formations. Then on to the small town of Fabriano for lunch in a traditional osetria. This picturesque town is renowned for the art of paper-making. We will visit the paper museum and participate in a workshop under the guidance of Maestro Cartaio who will teach us the art of fine artisanal paper making.

Day 7 Friday

Shopping in Italian and Cooking Lesson at Palazzo with Local Mama.

Today, we will enjoy shopping for ingredients for our dinner with Luisa and Nicoletta. Needless to say the shopping will have to be done in Italian! Light buffet at the Palazzo. At mid-afternoon, we will meet in the kitchen at Palazzo Donati with a local Mama who will teach us how to prepare a traditional family dinner. Don’t forget to wear the apron you made at the studio in San Leo. We’ll share the meal in the main Salon, serenaded by a local singer for our final brindisi (farewell toast).

Day 8 Saturday

Our adventure has come to an end and we hope you really enjoyed it!

Departure Breakfast Our driver will take us back to Florence train station/airport

Luisa Donati: skype contact: luisadonats Mobile +393394016247

Our tour includes: • 7 nights in Mercatello at the the Historic Residence, Palazzo Donati • All transfers in minibus for 8 + bi-lingual driver • Accommodation in double or twin bedrooms with bathroom • Breakfasts in the Palace • All meals included • Cooking Lessons • All local tours • All museum entrance fees • All guided tours • “Italian Express” language class • Workshop for fabric printing class and paper making • Bilingual Guide • Private Wine Tasting • Final Gala evening with a singer

Special Tour Dates: These weeks can be booked individually but 6 to 8 people will be needed to confirm price and operate the tour

Spring Tour: May 10 - 17 (ideal for our cooking class with wild flowers)

Late Summer Tour: September 1 - 8

**Other dates can be arranged by request for groups of 6-8 people.

For further information, please contact Luisa at**

If you want to know a little bit more about Mercatello sul Metauro go to