Wild Heart of Italy ⋆ Immersive Food & Wine Travel Experience in Ciociaria

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Take a step out of time and become immersed in a taste of the *real* Italy.


A food and wine cultural encounter with the ‘hidden’ region of Ciociaria, within the Lazio region of Central Italy. Just one hour south from Rome, it’s a whole world away…

TOUR DATES FOR 2018/19 :

9-16 September 2018 (Autumn) – FULLY BOOKED
8-15 September 2019 (Autumn) – RESERVATIONS NOW OPEN >>

or please feel free to make an enquiry >>

Silver Compass Tours is a member of the World Food Travel Association, the world’s leading authority on food tourism.


Imagine if you could wander off the beaten track in regional Italy, meet the locals and encounter authentic and traditional local food and wine experiences – far away from the tourist hordes. Just one hour south from Rome, there’s a magical secret : the untapped food and wine region of Ciociaria (cho-sha-ria).

A region within the Lazio region of Central Italy, Ciociaria was famed as a foodie destination in Roman times with venison and wild boar roaming wild in its forests. It still boasts an abundance of incredible fresh produce and local artisans (and there are still wild boar!). It encompasses the Atina DOC and Piglio DOCG wine regions, and is one of Italy’s most renowned truffle regions. Vines have been cultivated here since the Etruscan civilisation flourished, and the Romans were fond of the local Cesanese varietal (which is now experiencing a renaissance).

PHOTO BELOW: The Ciociaria region borders on the National Park of Abruzzo. Photo Credit: © horseman82


We will be staying in a five star ‘Albergo Diffuso’ (diffused hotel) in a medieval mountaintop village. The concept of a diffused hotel is unique to Italy, and is based on the revival of ancient buildings and villages to create an entirely new concept for accommodation. Our ‘diffused hotel’ is in fact a beautifully restored Bishop’s palace on top of a mountain on the fringes of a medieval village (complete with castle) and bordering a National Heritage Park.

Guests will have their own private apartments with double bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette and a shared communal terrace for us all to gather for afternoon aperitivi and to gaze at the inspirational view over the Ciociarian valleys.

We are staying in the same venue for the entire experience. HEAVEN.


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It’s a unique concept to Italy where ancient stone buildings are restored (sometimes whole villages) and a hotel is created ‘diffused’ through the building or town. Essentially, it’s like living like a local with your own serviced apartment and luxury amenities. We will be using our beautiful and peaceful diffused hotel as our village base – it’s only a short step into the piazza for proseccos and gelato and chats with the friendly locals. The surrounding area is full to the brim with amazing people doing amazing things to showcase Ciociarian food, wine and culture, and we will be venturing out each day to enable you to discover the region’s local artisans and producers.

PHOTO BELOW: Built upon the banks of the Liri River, the 18th Century town of Sora in Ciociaria was originally an ancient Volscian town, before being conquered by the Romans circa 300 BC. Photo Credit: © horseman82


One of the last undiscovered regions of Italy, Ciociaria is a well-guarded secret food and wine destination in Central Italy. Many Romans today still make the trek on weekends to experience its traditional cuisine and rediscover their connection to the countryside. However, there’s not an international tourist in sight. BLISS!

You will truly be able to immerse yourself in an authentic, local food and wine and cultural experience – accompanied by Paolo, Co-Founder of of Silver Compass Tours, whose family has lived in the region for centuries. Our accompanied tour will take you on a journey throughout the region to vineyards, farm gates and medieval villages to sample the many amazing regional specialties.

This includes foodie tours of local markets, a foraging expedition in the mountains to gather wild herbs for liqueurs, and a pecorino cheese-making class with lunch in the 19th Century villa where DH Lawrence wrote a book. It also includes day trips to a 1,000 year old Benedictine monastery built into a cliff on top of the ruins of Emperor Nero’s summer palace, a visit to the remains of Emperor Trajan’s hunting villa, and a trip to the ancient Roman seaside resort of Terracina on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea to view its Roman temple ruins.

We also have some unique Ciociarian dining experiences in store for our guests, including a degustation lunch in a 16th Century Noble’s villa, with wines and produce sourced from the restaurant’s own farm and vineyard; a dinner in a trattoria in a mountaintop medieval village with the young chef reviving his grandmother’s recipes and cooking on a wood-fired stove; and a medieval banquet in an ancient tavern underneath a castle.


Throughout our entire journey, we will be merrily eating and drinking to our hearts content (and we have some mountain walks and village strolls to help out!). This is a region known for its generosity. Most meals are included in the tour package (there are 2 optional fine-dining experiences), with table wine provided for all lunches and dinners. There’s also plenty of time to rest and relax, and our itinerary has been designed to give you time to unwind and fully immerse yourself in the regional Italian experience.

Get ready to live the Italian sweet life – which means coffee and pastries for breakfast, prosecco for morning tea, mandatory afternoon siestas (everything in the regional villages closes between 1pm to 4pm, may as well do as the Romans do…), early evening prosecco (yes there are two daily prosecco hours!) and evening adventures. Oh, and throw away your Italian phrasebook. Everyone speaks a charming dialect in this region, luckily for us Paolo is fluent.

Spontaneity and a sense of fun and adventure is also essential. We plan to take you to local village food and wine festivals, which occur almost every week in the autumn and spring seasons. However, Italy being its marvellous self, we never know the exact dates and they change every year. SO: live a little and embrace a few random detours when you join us on our itinerary, if we hear about a local food festival in a nearby village, we’ll take you!

PHOTO BELOW: The mountaintop of Arpino in Ciociaria has been settled since Etruscan times, and was the birthplace of renowned Roman philosopher, Cicero as well as the Roman General, Gaius Marius.


Our immersive food and wine tours to the Ciociaria region will be in September 2018 (Autumn) and May 2019 (Spring), which are both ideal times to visit. The weather is still warm and sunny at both times of year (around 25-30 degrees), and these are the seasons of the local mountaintop village Sagra (food and wine festivals).

Our tours for 2018/2019 are limited to a maximum of 8 guests to ensure an intimate and enjoyable experience with individual attention and care. These are small and intimate tour experiences designed especially for people who wouldn’t normally go on group tours. There is plenty of time for rest and relaxation, and our aim is for you to experience complete immersion in living like a local in a mountaintop Italian medieval village. YAY!

Our inclusive 8 day / 7 night hosted experience packages include 7 nights’ 5-star accommodation (breakfast inclusive and free wifi) with private apartment in a restored Bishop’s Palace; an 8-day hosted and carefully curated itinerary; most meals including 7 set menu lunches and 6 set menu dinners with table wine inclusive at each setting (there are additionally two fine-dining options for 1x lunch and 1x dinner); Australian Tour Manager and Ciociarian Tour Host; all day-trips and guided sightseeing; local guides, historic site and museum entry fees; driver and transport; local guides; and transfers to and from Rome.

AUD$4,497 per person* (based on double occupancy). Fabulous singles are also welcome for an additional AUD$1,500 to secure your own room.

There is an AUD$500 reservation fee per person to secure your place. This fee is non-refundable but completely transferable to an alternative tour date. An initial 25% payment (minus reservation fees) is due 6 months prior to the tour, with the remaining balance payable in full 2 months prior to departure.

Take a look at our Bookings Details for more information.

*Package cost does not include flights, travel insurance, medical insurance, relevant visas, or any additional personal expenses.

** Please note that package cost may fluctuate due to exchange rates and price may increase. You will be advised on booking.

Ask us about our package add-ons to extend your food and wine travels through Italy, we have options for Chianti (Northern Italy) and Basilicata & Puglia (Southern Italy).


Fill in the online reservation form below to secure your place with a $500 reservation fee. Or alternatively, make an enquiry if you would like to learn more about about our upcoming tours before you make a reservation.

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Your tour managers and hosts are Kelly & Paolo Picarazzi, co-founders of Silver Compass Tours and designers of the Wild Heart of Italy itineraries. We have a team of local guides supporting us fluent in English and Italian (and Ciociarian dialect, very important!), however our main focus is connecting our guests with our local producers, vignerons, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs, market stall owners, shopkeepers and shepherds so they can tell you their own stories and share their immense pride in their craftsmanship with you themselves (with Paolo translating the Ciociarian dialect for you!).

Paolo is a native of the Ciociarian region and a passionate advocate for sharing his culture through food, wine and music and immersion in authentic, local experiences. Kelly is a tourism strategist professional with global experience – so you’re in safe hands. Our local producers and partners are really thrilled to be sharing their food, wine and culture with our small groups of passionate and thoughtful travellers, and can’t wait to meet you.

Silver Compass Tours is a member of the World Food Travel Organisation, the world’s leading authority on food tourism and Kelly also holds a Certificate of Sustainable Tourism achieved through the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

PHOTO BELOW: A typical Ciociarian countryside scene in the springtime: fields of poppies and forests along riverbanks in the valleys, encircled by the Apennine Mountains. Photo Credit: © Mirko Macari


We have been receiving many requests for private group tours. A minimum of eight guests is required to secure your own tailored 8-day Wild Heart of Italy experience and we also have add-on options to extend your travels to the Chianti (Northern Italy) or Basilicata (Southern Italy) food and wine regions.

So if you would like to follow your wild heart to regional Italy with us, jump in quick and contact us through the form below with your enquiry!


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Testimonial – Carolyn, USA

“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.”

“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!”

Ciociaria: the Truly Wild Heart of Italy. for an overview of our itinerary..and here’s a sneak peek into the gorgeous medieval hilltop town of Anagni that features in our itineraries:
5 Sensational Reasons to Explore Anagni Off The Beaten Track

We open up bookings for our exclusively designed itineraries to our WILD HEART VIP members as a priority. You are welcome to REQUEST TO JOIN US as a WILD HEART member to receive access to priority bookings, member offers and more detailed information on our tour itineraries.


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Copyright © 2017 Silver Compass Tours, Australia. All rights reserved.

All itinerary concepts and content of the Wild Heart of Italy experience packages is the intellectual property of Silver Compass Tours and may not be reproduced or copied in any format without prior written permission. Silver Compass Tours and Wild Heart of Italy are registered business names of Silver Compass Communications Pty Ltd | ABN 25 151 619 733 | Australia.

Package includes:

  • 5-star accommodation in an 'Albergo Diffuso' (diffused hotel in medieval mountain village) for 7 nights. Breakfast inclusive and free wifi
  • Most meals, including wine with lunches and dinners. 7 set menu lunches and 6 set menu dinners (except two fine-dining options for 1 lunch & 1 dinner)
  • Hosted tours, day-trips and guided sightseeing
  • Australian Tour Manager and Ciociarian Tour Host
  • Historic site and museum entry fees
  • Local Guides
  • Return transfer from Rome, pick-up from designated Tour Hotel
  • * Flights, travel insurance, medical insurance, relevant visas, and any additional personal expenses are not included


Highlights include:


The same 5-star boutique accommodation in a ‘diffused hotel’ throughout the entire adventure, featuring your own bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette with a shared garden terrace overlooking a valley. HEAVEN


Foodie tours of local markets and speciality boutiques to explore regional specialties such as truffles; olives, olive oil; sheep milk pecorino, buffalo mozzarella; chestnuts; porchetta, proscuitto, Ciociarian biscuits and pastries and more.


Foraging for wild herbs in the mountains with a shepherd to create our own homemade liqueurs and artisanal cheeses.


Exploration of the Atina DOC, Anagni DOC and Piglio DOCG wine regions in Ciociaria, including visits to biodynamic and organic vineyards to meet the vignerons and a cellar door wine-tasting in an historic 19th Century ironworks factory.


Unique Ciociarian dining experiences such as a degustation lunch in a former 16th Century noble’s villa, with wines and produce sourced from the restaurant’s own farm and vineyard; a dinner in a trattoria in a mountaintop medieval village with the young chef reviving his grandmother’s recipes and cooking on a woodstove; and a medieval banquet in an ancient tavern underneath a castle.


Discovery of the remains of Emperor Trajan’s Hunting Villa in the region, and a visit to a 1,000 year old monastery built on top of the remains of Emperor Nero’s summer palace.


A day trip to the seaside to explore Roman and Etruscan temple ruins at an ancient resort destination on the Tyrrhenian Sea.


The charm of staying in a local mountaintop medieval village for a week and meeting the friendly locals.  Think prosecco and gelato in the piazza, castle ruins, mountain walks and glorious scenery.

You’ll never want to leave!

CONTACT US for more information on the exclusive Wild Heart of Italy itinerary we have designed for fellow travellers with soul for our 2018/19 tours.