Picture this: a tiny 1,000 year old mountaintop village perched high above a verdant Valley and surrounded by the splendour of the Apennine Mountains. The entire village is lit up with fairylights in the main piazza and all along the cobbled laneways is candlelit, with every door in the village traditionally decorated with beautiful boughs of holly and red berries. Wandering through the laneways, you will surprise upon cheerfully-decorated trees and small nativity scenes (presepi) that have been created by local community groups and schoolchildren to really bring the spirit of Christmas alive.
There is no santa or any reindeers in sight – this is Christmas as it has been celebrated for over one thousand years in regional Italy. It is a time for gathering with family and friends, for lighting up the winter months with warm fires, mulled wine and laughter, and for long table communal meals that stretch on for hours to celebrate the good fortune of this year and forge hope for the next.
A welcome long-table dinner of traditional Ciociarian cuisine and regional DOC & DOCG wines; a guided art history tour of the 13th Century Benedictine Monastery of Subiaco, followed by a traditional Ciociarian lunch in the monk’s refectory; a private Christmas Eve long table dinner with local prosecco and wines; Christmas Day mass at a 1,000 year old Abbey and a fine-dining Christmas Day lunch with an 8-course degustation with paired wines; truffle-hunting through a Ciociarian forest and vineyard on St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day), followed by a truffle lunch at the vineyard’s farmhouse plus a sommelier wine-tasting class & grappa tasting in the garden; a day trip to Agnone in Molise to visit a bell-making foundry where the bells of the Vatican are made; a gentle & guided nature walk through the national park of Abruzzo, Lazio & Molise in the Apennines with a park ranger, with a knapsack of cheese, sausage and wine for sustenance; and a farewell long Sunday lunch in a private dining room in a 19th Century villa.
You will be staying in private luxury apartments in an ‘albergo diffuso’ (diffused hotel) in a former Bishop’s palace within the walls of a 1,000 year old medieval castle. There are three 1-bedroom private apartments for couples (1-2 people) and two 2-bedroom private apartments (up to 4 people) available in the main complex. Each apartment has its own fully-equipped kitchenette, lounge area and a bathroom for each bedroom. The apartments all face a central inner courtyard with privacy from the village laneway and there is a shared communal terrace and garden.
In addition, there is a 3-bedroom private apartment within the village which is perfect for a family group of six people (two double beds, two single beds), with a fully-equipped kitchen, lounge/dining area, two bathrooms, private courtyard and rooftop terrace. Package price is on application for this option.
Please note that as these apartments are completely bespoke, it is not possible for two friends to share a room in two single beds. You will need to each have your own room but trust us, once you arrive you will be so glad you did – the rooms are absolutely gorgeous, you will want them all to yourselves.
AUD$8,497* per person all-inclusive package based on double occupancy (couples only). Fabulous Singles welcome for an additional $2,000 to secure own apartment.
Discount available for group booking of 8 or more. Please contact us to make an enquiry.
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 is due within 4 weeks of reservation. Final balance payment is due 01 September 2019. Payment Plans available on request. For more information on our bookings and payments procedure for this special package, including details on our Cancellations & Refunds policies please visit our Booking Information page.
All Wild Heart of Italy packages will be offered in Euro from 2020.
* Package cost does not include flights, travel insurance, medical insurance, relevant visas, or any additional personal expenses.
Download our ‘There’s something you need to know about Ciociaria’ Fact Sheet before booking to gain an understanding of visiting a region not set-up for mass tourism. Having travel insurance is a condition of joining our hosted travel experiences. We like
Tour commences at 11am on Sunday 20 December (Day One) with pick-up from designated tour hotel. Guests not staying at the hotel are required to make their own way there. Tour completes at 3pm on Sunday 27 September (Day Eight) with return transfer to Rome to designated tour hotel (arriving Rome 5pm). Onward transfers to hotels or airport are responsibility of guests. We recommend you plan to arrive in Rome at least one day prior to the tour commencing and arrange onward transfers for one day after the tour.
We can assist with recommendations for extending your Christmas in Ciociaria experience to New Year in Tuscany. We have partners in the Chianti region, who can arrange for a New Year’s Eve celebration for you in either Florence or Siena (or stay in Chianti!). You will be staying in a gorgeous Tuscan farmhouse and can enjoy a tailored local food and wine experience (minimum 4 days, up to 7 days).
Our small, sustainable group tours to Ciociaria and Molise are aimed at preserving the charm and authenticity of each region for visitors. We hold our tours during low seasons, so by joining us you are also supporting the well-being of the local Ciociarian and Molisean communities we visit. Our immersive food and wine cultural experiences have been designed for fellow travellers with soul. We ask our guests to tread lightly, travel joyfully, act kindly and explore mindfully on our Wild Heart of Italy adventures throughout Ciociaria and Molise. Grazie mille, a thousand times thank you, on behalf of all our friends here.
“…just perfect for the adventurous, the curious, those who are tired of crowds and tourist restaurants, and for those who dislike moving from hotel to hotel to make the most of their vacation. It’s a great fit for those who want to learn more and appreciate more, and who want to extract the very essence of life from every day, and who are flexible enough to confidently do so.” Janette, Australia.
WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE IN DECEMBER IN CIOCIARIA?
Marvellous winter weather : blue skies and around 10-12 degrees Celsius during the day, a little chillier at night, 5-8 degrees Celsius. We will be on top of mountains, so make sure you bring warm jumpers, jackets, scarves and gloves. A great idea is to wear thermals under your day clothes. You will need comfortable and sensible walking shoes. Mainly sunny, some light rain, and the closer you get to New Year’s Eve the closer you get to the chance of snow!
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*All of our itineraries are subject to change and spontaneity. It makes life a little more fun!
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