Self Catering holidays in Italy at Villa San Raffaello
Italy laid on a plate
A self catering holiday in Italy at Villa San Raffaello in Le Marche combines stylish accommodation in 4 spacious apartments, free organic produce, the great availability of locally sourced food at a busy market town Sarnano 1km away. Our apartments come fully equipped with all the kit that you would find in your own home.
Self catering Italy holidays – The herb garden, fruit & nut trees
In the grounds of the villa we have all the herbs that you will need to create local Le Marche recipes on your self catering vacation, such as rosemary, basil, chives, curry plants, marjoram, mint, thyme, rocket, parsley and sage.
We have cherry, fig, plum, pear, peach and apple trees and walnut and hazel, below there are some great seasonal recipes using this produce, including a fantastic fig and chilli pasta dish for late June and early July. Alternatively, for September/October you could try cooking the delicious walnut and dolcelatte recipe.
Free pick your own organic vegetables
Every Spring at the villa we improve the soil with the compost from last year’s guests’ vegetable peelings and then plant up an array of vegetable seeds and plants for the coming season, we guarantee that no pesticides or herbicides will be used and aim to provide you with some great tasting organic seasonal produce that you can pick for free.
In fact, many of our guests love taking their children down to the “orto” or allotment and introducing them to the fruit and veg. It’s great to see kids link the garden to their plates and many small children wander down on their own to scrump a few sweet tomatoes.
In previous years this has included: plum, cherry & beef tomatoes, courgette, squash, pepper, chilli, melon, green beans, chick-peas, broad beans, potatoes, carrots, parsnip, onions, garlic, chard, aubergine, chickory and lettuce etc.
If you like to cook alfresco on your self catering holidays, there is an outside bread oven or a BBQ pit with incredible views of the mountains and medieval town.
Self catering holiday accommodation – locally sourced produce
The local medieval town, Sarnano, is 1km away and was famous in the past for its cattle market, this legacy continues into the present day with the town’s 8 butchers, all of whom are specialist in some type of meat, there are pork butchers offering an array of cured, stuffed and fresh meats, lamb butchers and others specialising in beef. Most buy their meat from local farmers and know who has the best animal welfare and feed; which of course produces the best flavoured meat.
If you are cooking for your family or friends, what can be better than buying directly at many local farms, for instance at a poultry farm where you can buy quail, pheasant, turkey and chicken. Sarnano is also home to at least 4 specialist enotecas or delicatessans where you can buy sumptuous local cheeses, pecorino stagionato is a must, cured meats including Le Marche’s soft pungent ciauscolo sausage, pickled and oil preserved vegetables, wines, oils and many other local specialities.
There are 4 bakeries, each of them with their own recipes and diverse range of breads and cakes, 2 greengrocers, a fantastic wine & chocolate shop and 3 supermarkets.
Of course the weekly Thursday market is abundant with wonderful local produce and the tempting aroma of the fried fish and shellfish cooked while you wait. You will also find a selection of fresh fish available, which is brought in from the Adriatic coast.
Let someone else take the strain on your self catering break
If you prefer to relax and reduce your self catering workload you could always try one of the 2 pasta fresca shops, where you can buy melt in your mouth pastas, stuffed with meats, cheeses or wild mushrooms, dishes ready for the oven such as lasagna or cannelloni, or just plain pasta in any shape or form.
In fact, we often buy sheets of fine semolina dusted pasta for the home made butternut squash ravioli dish below. Alternatively, grab yourself a superb pizza from one of the 7 pizzerias or go out to one of the 20 ristorante in town.
Italy self catering – local Le Marche wines
The perfect accompaniment to your self catering meal is one of the fantastic Le Marche wines that cost about €1.50 per litre from local shops or direct from one of the many Le Marche cantinas near the villa.
Il Pollenza offers a fresh Sauvignon Blanc and some great blends of french and italian wines, Saputi has a robust Rosso Piceno Riserva. Half way to Conero pay a visit to Villa Forano where you will find some great reds and an experimental blend using the perfumed Lacrima di Morro’DAlba grapes.
There are 20 or more cantinas in Conero that specialise in the big velvety reds from that region. Other good areas include Matellica for Verdicchio (we far prefer it to the ubiquitous Jesi Verdicchio as it’s crispier with more body and fruit), and then a trip to Offida, Aquaviva Picena and Ripratransone to the south-east, this is a beautiful area and a centre for Rosso Piceno.
Here you can visit one of the many cantinas offering the newly DOCG accredited Pecorino and Passerina; these are fantastic light sauvignon-blancesque wines that are only produced in this tiny area.
Fig & Chilli Pasta
• 320g/11½oz fresh egg tagliatelli • 6 over-ripe figs • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1 clove garlic, finely sliced • pinch dried chilli • 125ml/4½fl oz double cream • sea salt and freshly ground black • ½ lemon, juice only • bunch basil
• 4 long red chillies grilled, peeled and de-seeded • 200g/7oz parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler • extra basil leaves
1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and put in the pasta. Cook for two to three minutes. 2. Meanwhile, remove the stems from the figs and chop into quarters and then into eighths. 3. Gently heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan, then add the garlic and lightly fry until sticky and just golden. 4. Add a pinch of dried chilli and the chopped figs. Gently fry for about one to two minutes. 5. Add the cream and lower the heat, bringing the sauce to a simmer. 6. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. 7. Add a few of the basil leaves and stir to combine. 8. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, tossing to combine and coat the pasta. 9. Correct the seasoning, if needed, and divide among four serving bowls. 10. Garnish with strips of the grilled chilli, a few more basil leaves and shavings of parmesan cheese.
Dolcelatte, Walnut & Broccoli pasta
• 200g penne • 250g broccoli florets • 2 tbsp olive oil • handful chopped walnuts • 100g blue cheese , such as dolcelatte, cubed • 1 lemon , juice
1. Cook penne; 4 mins before the end of cooking, throw in broccoli florets. Meanwhile, heat olive oil, add a handful chopped walnuts and fry gently for 1 min. 2. Drain the penne, adding 4 tbsp cooking water to the walnuts. Return the pasta to the pan, add the walnuts and creamy blue cheese. Gently stir on the heat, just to melt the cheese. Squeeze over lemon juice to serve.
Butternut Squash Ravioli
200g pasta dough in sheets, 1/2 butternut squash, 150g soft goats cheese, 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage, 25g melted butter, handful toasted pine nuts, freshly ground salt & pepper, extra virgin olive oil
Method Prep: 15 mins Cook: 5 mins
Peel and de-seed the butternut squash and cut into 2 inch squares. Mix the butter and sage together and pour over the squash, bake for 50 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 200∘C. Allow the squash to cool before using it otherwise steam will build up in the ravioli parcels.
Once cool, season generously and mash with a fork. Place a teaspoon of squash on the ravioli sheets, a teaspoon of goats cheese on top and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts with about 2 inches between each pile of filling. Brush the pasta around each piece of filling with water, lay the second layer of ravioli sheet over the top, press and seal around each to create a ravioli parcel. Use a biscuit/pastry cutter big enough to cut a neat circle around each filling. Boil in salted water for 4-5 minutes and serve with freshly grated parmesan, cracked black pepper, more roasted pinenuts and gently fried sage leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Delicious.