SILVER COMPASS TOURS PRESENTS:
TOUR DATES NOW OPEN FOR RESERVATIONS 2018/2019:
Sunday 9 to Sunday 16 September 2018
Sunday 12 to Sunday 19 May 2019
A bespoke itinerary designed for fellow travellers with soul.
Journey with us as we explore the undiscovered food and wine region of Ciociaria [cho-sha-ria] in Central Italy – just one hour south from Rome, but a whole world away. Hosted by Silver Compass Tours co-founders, Paolo & Kelly Picarazzi, this is an exclusive 8-day small group tour (maximum 8-12 guests) to Paolo’s home region. Ciociaria was the favourite food and wine destination of Roman emperors such as Marcus Aurelius and Trajan, and the birthplace of Cicero and Gaius Marius – with vines being cultivated here since Etruscan times. It’s now a well-kept secret amongst contemporary Roman visitors who seek to escape from the city for long weekends to reconnect to their history and traditional cuisine.
Pick up and transfer from Rome; boutique 5-star accommodation for 7 nights in a one-of-a-kind ‘diffused hotel’ in a restored Bishop’s palace with daily breakfast; 8 day hosted regional food + wine discovery, with Paolo as your Ciociarian host; 7 lunches and 6 evening meals focused on introducing you to unique local dining experiences, with local table wine inclusive for both lunch and dinner; 2 optional fine-dining experiences to discover the region’s truffles, Piglio DOC region wines and specialties (1 lunch, 1 dinner); tour transport and local driver; all entry fees to museums and places of interest; return transfer to Rome.
Visit to a biodynamic olive farm; pecorino cheese-making farm gate experience; organic vineyard tours and wine-tastings; a visit to a thousand year old Benedictine monastery built into the side of a cliff; guided tour of Emperor Trajan’s Hunting Villa, only recently rediscovered; local market exploration for fresh produce, regional streetfood, plus stylish clothes and accessories; artisanal product and local store visits; traditional Ciociarian cuisine cooking class and wild forage (time and weather permitting); opportunity for boutiques and retail outlet shopping for suits and shoes; half-day trip to medieval walled garden and private group tour through the heritage-listed grounds; visits to perfectly preserved medieval mountaintop villages built on the remains of Etruscan walls and temples; local food and wine village festivals (as they happen); and a day trip to the seaside to visit ancient Roman ruins.
Note: this is a food and wine tour, it’s fairly safe to say you will be eating and drinking with great regularity throughout the tour! From our experience though, in Italy you can generally only cope with one extravagant meal a day. In our itinerary we will either showcase a long lunch or generous dinner, but don’t worry you will have lunch and dinner every day!
and there’s something you need to know about regional Italy…
All throughout Italy, it’s traditional to leave work and go home for lunch. For a couple of hours at least. Here in regional Italy this tradition is even more spectacular, and everything closes between 12pm and 4pm EVERY DAY. Yep, every day. This is the land of la dolce vita, and your life will change when you fully embrace this marvellous approach to living. For our tours, we will need to get out and about between 8am and 12pm if we are sightseeing (our Ciociarian friends will make exceptions for us for long lunches!), and then return to our accommodation for afternoon naps, book reading, and lolling around in the garden. From 4pm, everything re-opens and by 7pm everything comes alive – the villages are full of people chatting to friends, taking prosecco in piazzas and laughing. It’s a joyful experience, we can’t wait to share it with you.
The same boutique and 5-star accommodation ‘diffused hotel’ throughout the entire adventure, featuring your own bedroom, lounge area, kitchenette and bathroom – with a shared garden terrace for sunset aperitivos. HEAVEN!
What’s a diffused hotel? It’s a unique concept to Italy where ancient stone buildings are restored (sometimes whole villages) and the apartments are transformed into luxury suites. The concierge is often in an entirely different building. Our accommodation for our Wild Heart of Italy tours is in a restored and renovated former Bishop’s palace on top of a mountain, and bordering on the Abruzzo National Park. Breakfast is served daily, and includes espresso coffee, cappuccino, pastries and biscuits, fresh orange juice as well as cereal and fruit.
We will be staying in the medieval village of Piscinisco, so there will be plenty of opportunity to take a stroll and stop in the piazza for coffees & proseccos and to chat with the locals. It’s a friendly little place, with many of the inhabitants having relatives who emigrated to Scotland after the First World War and whose descendants regularly return. English is spoken and they are keen to welcome visitors to their remote and beautiful part of the world. This is where DH Lawrence wrote ‘The Lost Girl’ in the 1920s and he absolutely adored the place. You will too!
By the way: the Bishop’s palace features a three-bedroom luxuriously appointed suite (sleeps up to 6) with a private terrace, in addition to four individual one-bedroom apartments (up to 2 people). If you are travelling with a group of friends and would like to reserve the suite, just CONTACT US for pricing.
UNIQUE LOCAL DINING EXPERIENCES AND FOOD EXPLORATION:
Our local dining experiences include a medieval banquet in an ancient tavern underneath a castle; a degustation lunch at a former noble’s villa which is now a biodynamic vineyard and farm; a Zero KM produce lunch (sourced straight from the farm) at an organic vineyard; an enoteca which hand-selects the best offerings from the Piglio wine region to accompany its regional specialties such as truffles, salumi, buffalo mozzarella and sheep and goat milk cheeses; and a mountaintop village trattoria where the young chefs are focused on revising the ancient recipes and cuisine of the region as a celebration of its culture.
TOUR DATES AND SEASONS:
Our first tour for 2018 will be in September, which is early Autumn in Italy and essentially you’ll enjoy pleasant summer weather around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. This is the time of year following the three-month summer holiday period for Italians, and is wonderfully quiet and relaxed for touring. It’s also the time of year when Italians start bringing in the harvest and it is vintage season for wine – a fantastic opportunity to see the local producers in action! Many villages additionally hold their local food and wine festivals during this period, and we will be factoring in some spontaneous visits to these (it’s impossible to know the exact dates, they change every year!).
If you’re not able to join us for our September 2018 tour, we are also taking reservations for May 2019 which is Springtime in Italy. It’s a magical time, with all the Ciociaria mountainsides covered in wildflowers and the weather is again a very pleasant 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.
Special Introductory Price for WILD HEART Members:
if you’re reading this page, you’re a Wild Heart member!
Our introductory price, valid for our September 2018 and May 2019 tours is AUD$3,997 per person (based on twin share, excluding flights and travel insurance). Fabulous singles are welcome for an additional AUD$1,200 to secure your own room.
We are personally inviting guests to join us for these dates, before we open up the tours to the public from September 2019 when prices will be in USD. Places are limited to a maximum of 8-12 guests per tour, and we require at least 6 guests for the tour to go ahead.
As an additional bonus for WILD HEART members, we are offering an EARLYBIRD DISCOUNT of $250 per person for reservations confirmed by 15 December 2017. All you need to do is fill in the reservation request form and forward it back with your reservation fee by that date.
FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS OFFER WITH YOUR CLOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY. THEY WILL NEED TO QUOTE CODE: WILDHEART001 TO BE ELIGIBLE TO ACCESS YOUR WILD HEART MEMBER OFFER.
There is an AUD$500 reservation fee per person to secure your place, which is non-refundable but completely transferable to an alternative tour date. A 50% deposit (minus reservation fee) is due 6 months prior to the tour, with the remaining 50% payable in full 2 months prior to departure. Payment plans are available on request.
Feel free to CONTACT US for more information or with any enquiries.
ADD-ON TRAVEL OPTIONS:
We understand that travelling from Australia or New Zealand to Italy is a looong journey, and that most of our guests would like to spend more than one week in Italy. Our Wild Heart of Italy tours of the Ciociaria food and wine region of Central Italy are 8 days/7 nights, so to provide you with options for extending your trip we are offering add-on packages to guests who reserve places on our tours.
These include a 3-day stopover in Abu Dhabi to recover from jetlag on a private beach (it’s 14 hours to Abu Dhabi from Sydney, and then just 7 hours to Rome from Abu Dhabi); a 3-day exploration of all the main sights of Rome (especially great if you’ve never been before) with an insider’s introduction to the streets where all the Romans hang out away from the tourists; as well as ideas for other slow food and wine tours in regional Italy you can join following your week with us. We’ve found some lovely local partners who will look after you if you wish to continue your travels through Italy.
ALL GUESTS WHO RESERVE THEIR BOOKINGS WITH US WILL RECEIVE INFORMATION ON OUR ADD-ON PACKAGES.
ABU DHABI REST + RELAX:
We are offering a 3-night hosted stop-over in Abu Dhabi prior to the tour commencing to visit the newly-opened Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, a tour of Abu Dhabi by sail boat and luxury island accommodation with private beach to wash away any cares or jetlag. Kelly will be your personal host in Abu Dhabi, as she lived in the region for 7 years, speaks enough Arabic to make everyone happy, and previously worked for the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority so has great on-ground tourism contacts. MORE DETAILS HERE >>
ROAM AROUND ROME:
Get acquainted with one of the world’s most vivacious cities with our 3-day insider’s exploration of Rome, staying in the heart of the bohemian foodie quarter of Trastevere and including a walking exploration of all main sights plus the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill & Museum, as well as unique Roman dining experiences. MORE DETAILS HERE >>
REGIONAL ITALY SLOW FOOD + WINE:
We also have recommendations for further unique food and wine hosted experiences travelling onwards throughout Italy in Basilicata, Chianti and Puglia.
Please CONTACT US for more details or questions regarding our add-on packages.
“Italy today is far more Etruscan in its pulse than Roman: and will always be so. The Etruscan element is like the grass of the field and the sprouting of corn, in Italy: it will always be so.” DH Lawrence, ‘Etruscan Places – Travels Through Forgotten Italy’ (1932)
Overflowing with artisanal cheese makers, pastry chefs, olives, olive oil, salumi and wine producers and with wild truffle and porcini in the mountain forests, the Ciociaria region is a food and wine lover’s dream destination. The most attractive thing about the Ciociaria region? There is hardly another international visitor in sight. You will be guided by locals to meet the locals resurrecting the region’s ancient cultural traditions through food, wine and song, and with a renewed focus on biodynamic and organic cultivation of produce.
In its essence, the Wild Heart of Italy is Etruscan. Underneath the mountaintop medieval village churches are Roman temples, and underneath those are the remains of the original Etruscan temples.
Travel with us to rediscover the beat of an ancient heart.
WHERE WILL WE BE?
The Ciociaria region is 1 hour south from Rome, heading towards Naples. It was actually part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples and Sicily) until Italy became a unified country in 1871. Our home for the week is in the mountaintop village of Picinisco, which is in the furthest corner of Ciociaria bordering on Abruzzo. It will take us around 2 hours to arrive there from Rome. We are close to to the regional city centre of Sora, which has amazing boutique shopping. And the ancient Etruscan and Roman villages of Arpino, Alatri, Fumone, Veroli and Anagni are all near.
Carolyn from the USA joined us in Ciociaria in September 2017:
“My trip to the Ciociaria food and wine region in the wild heart of Italy with Silver Compass Tours was the best thing I did in all of Italy! I can’t thank our local tour guides, Michele and Gaia, enough for taking the time to share their Ciociarian food, culture and countryside with us. We were completely blown away by everyone’s hospitality and generosity, and swept away by the beauty of Ciociaria.”
Chloe from Australia joined us in Ciociaria in May 2017:
“I’d been living and working in northern Italy for four months – this was my first time to southern Italy and it was also the first time I felt that I had *really* experienced authentic Italian food. I haven’t eaten better the entire time I’ve been in Italy. I’ll be back, absolutely!”
CONTACT US for more information or with any enquiries.
We collect you from the designated Tour Hotel in Rome at around 11am and transfer to Picinisco (2 hour drive). Aperitivos and dinner on the garden terrace.
We find our bearings and live like locals in Picinsico, with a wander through the village for coffees in the piazza and explore the ruins of the local castle. The afternoon will be spent at a farm gate and Caciosteria (cheese house), where we will get hands-on and help with making the region’s famous pecorino cheese. Lunch is at the farmhouse kitchen table, in the villa where DH Lawrence wrote one of his books. We will also visit a biodynamic olive farm and vineyard in the afternoon, followed by a traditional Ciociarian cooking class.
Time to venture out and explore Ciociaria! Starting with a visit to a 1,000 year old Benedictine Monastery built on the remains of Emperor Nero’s summer palace. Lunch will be taken in the monastery – the speciality dish of the refectory is tagliolini alla norcina (pasta with pork sausage and truffles) so you definitely won’t leave hungry! We will additionally visit Emperor Trajan’s Hunting Villa, which has only recently been rediscovered, and then call into some local producers and speciality stores on our way home to gather tasty morsals for an al fresco dinner on the garden terrace.
Market day at Anagni, the medieval ‘City of Popes’ packed full of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance history. Fresh produce, traditional streetfood, fashion and fun! We will also wander through Anagni Cathedral and the 12th Century Palace of Pope Boniface VIII. For lunch you can choose a fine-dining option in the cathedral’s piazza or fill up on the extremely tasty streetfood options! Opportunities for boutique and retail outlet shopping in nearby Sora in the late afternoon. Dinner will be in the neighbouring medieval city of Veroli, at a local trattoria resurrecting ancient Ciociarian recipes.
Half day trip to a medieval walled-garden for a private tour of the grounds and ruined castle. We return to Ciociaria for a tour of a biodynamic vineyard on top of a mountain, followed by a long lunch at cellar door. A fine-dining dinner is optional, or stay in our home village and eat pizza in the piazza.
A tour of the Piglio wine-making region’s vineyards with a long degustation lunch on the estate of a former Noble’s villa. Our ZeroKm lunch will be sourced straight from the estate’s farm and vineyard. After an afternoon rest, you are going to be ready to experience Friday evening in Italy – pizza and prosecco and promenading in piazzas. We are going to take you to Paolo’s home village, Isola del Liri, which features a beautiful waterfall in the centre of its medieval heart. It’s awesome for people watching – the entire village comes out on Friday night to pass the time strolling through the streets, saying hello to friends and eating gelato.
A day trip to the ancient Roman seaside destination of Terracina, to view Roman ruins and for a seafood lunch. In the evening we will venture out to a medieval banquet in an ancient tavern underneath a castle, in one of the most perfectly preserved medieval mountaintop villages in the region. This has to be one of our personal all-time favourite Ciociarian experiences, we’ve saved the best to last – and yes, there are ghosts!
Soak up the views on the terrace, wander through the ‘vicoli’ cobbled laneways of Picinisco and we will have one final group lunch together before taking you back to Rome (departing 2pm).
* Itinerary is subject to change, with room for a little spontaneity!
AUD$3,997 per person (based on twinshare). Excludes flights and travel insurance.
Fabulous singles welcome for an additional $1,200 to secure own room.
EarlyBird discount for WILD HEART members of AUD$250 per person if reservation received by 15 December 2017.
Reservation Fee of AUD$500 per person to secure your place. Non-refundable but completely transferable to an alternative tour date.
A 50% deposit (minus reservation fee) is due six months prior to the tour, with the remaining 50% payable in full two months prior to departure.
That means if you’re joining us for our September 2018 tour, reserve your place now for $500 per person and you won’t need to pay anything more until March 2018, with final payment due in July 2018.
Don’t forget, if you reserve your place on our Wild Heart of Italy tours for either September 2018 or May 2019, you will receive the WILD HEART members discount of $250 per person.