Palomba is a traditional Le Marche farmhouse which used to supply the locality with wine. The name stems from the Italian word for wood pigeon or dove (palomba) – this was a place where hunters would gather to shoot the birds as they flew over. Happily the hunters have disappeared, but the doves still linger. Today, the area is a nature reserve and we often see deer, wild boar and porcupines; peregrine falcons, kestrels and buzzards are frequent sights circling overhead, and we even once saw a golden eagle which must have drifted over from the mountains. The place is also a butterfly heaven.

 

We spent two years renovating this big stone house to create our home and a holiday apartment for up to five people. We’ve aimed for rustic but elegant, integrating modern conveniences with an essential simplicity. Terracotta, exposed beams and whitewash give a light and airy feel. The furnishings are simple and comfortable, mixing modern and antique, English and Italian. In 2008 we installed photovoltaic panels and are self-sufficient in electricity generation.

 

The apartment is completely private and self-contained, with separate entrance. The accommodation is on two floors. The ground floor comprises a kitchen with dining area and antique oak table, a living-room with comfy sofas, and a bedroom with twin beds; there’s also a ‘loggia’, which is probably our favourite space. Its open balcony gives direct access to the beautiful views across the valley, and it’s a lovely place for breakfast, for relaxing in, even for sleeping in. Upstairs are a characterful wood-floored double bedroom under the eaves, and the bathroom (with shower). The living-room has a cast-iron woodburning stove for cooler evenings.

 

Cooking is a pleasure here with the wonderful fresh local ingredients, and in the kitchen you’ll find all the equipment you’ll need to get really creative. You can eat outside on the shady veranda with its pots of herbs and trailing vines. We will ply you with fresh vegetables from our garden and eggs from our ducks – and hopefully in summer 2011, also hens. We’ve planted up the shell of an old stone-built bread oven as a flourishing herb garden which you are free to plunder for your meals.

 

The garden features walnut, fig and fruit trees, a lawn area and a wild area. There’s plenty of outdoor furniture including sun umbrellas and deckchairs, and there’s an ever-growing collection of books to choose from.

 

We have chosen not to install a large swimming pool as so many holiday properties are doing. However, we can’t deny that a pool is a wonderful thing, and in the summers we now set up a splashpool (3m diameter, 90cm high). This provides endless fun for children and allows the grown-ups to relax in peace – and it’s also big enough for adults to take a cooling dip.

 

We have a sweet-natured pony named Cassie and young guests are welcome to help look after her. Children can ride her under supervision and on the lead-rein – we have a small riding-ring or it’s fun to take Cass out on a family walk.

 

The boring stuff

Towels and bed-linen are provided and a change is supplied once a week. (Note: beach towels are not provided.) A washing-machine is available. We can babysit for a small charge if required. A soft futon mattress suitable for a child can be placed in either bedroom or in the living-room. Indoor and outdoor children’s toys, a baby bath and a pushchair are available. We’re happy to give advice or help when necessary but are careful not to be invasive, making this an excellent place for a family holiday or for those seeking a romantic escape.

 

We now have fast Internet access via a 3G signal which is free to guests.

 

A car is essential, as the house is difficult to access by public transport.

AT A GLANCE

• 2 bedrooms (1 double, 1 twin)

• Extra double sofa-bed and single futon

• Fast Internet access

• Garden

• Splashpool

• Pony

• Secluded rural surroundings

• Washing machine

• Ten minutes to town

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