Our family reunion at Villa San Raffaello was the highlight of our three weeks in Italy. With its picturesque location in Le Marche, Damien and his family have created a retreat for the senses and the soul. The four unique and charming apartments (in the former farmhouse and barn), have been thoughtfully outfitted to serve as a real home away from home. The interior spaces are designed beautifully to accommodate groups so that our extended family of ten could comfortably gather together in any one apartment. The full kitchens are equipped with everything you could possibly need to cook gourmet meals, and the gorgeous outdoor eating spaces made every meal memorable. Damien has used reclaimed wood to make rustic tables and pergolas, and even tea lights and hanging lanterns have been provided to make those warm evenings all the more magical. The beautiful landscaping gives the grounds an informal atmosphere so that you feel at home hanging out and relaxing there. We spent many hours at the pool with its splendid views of the nearby medieval hilltop village of Sarnano, the organic vegetable garden (which guests are welcome to harvest for their own meals), and suspended from the many hammocks hung in all the best spots to laze away a sunny afternoon. There are amazing views of the mountains from most of the property, and close access to hiking trails and bike routes, while lakes and seaside are only a short drive away. Damien is a warm and affable host and is at the heart of what makes a holiday at Villa San Raffaello such a magnificent experience. A source of infinite suggestions on what to do and where to go, he went out of his way to arrange bicycle rentals for the avid cyclists in our group and had them waiting for us at the villa when we arrived. We had an unbelievable twelve course dinner sourced with all local foods at a hidden-away restaurant we never would have come across on our own, and went to a magnificent opera festival nearby at Damien’s suggestion as well. Damien clearly cares about creating an unforgettable experience for his guests. And he does; we came away from our week at Villa San Raffaello relaxed and rejuvenated, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
We had a fantastic holiday at Villa San Raffaello, staying with our 2 children aged 12 and 14 in one of the two-bedroom apartments. Our friends were staying in the apartment upstairs, so we had the best of both worlds as we could join them for coffee in the morning on their balcony with a fantastic view.
We spent a lot of time at the pool which is a good size and the same depth from one end to the other (ie. stand-up-able-in), enabling some highly competitive games of water polo and pool volleyball. One of the best things about the pool is the incredible views of the mountains – we never tired of it!
The town of Sarnano is lovely – lots of history and medieval buildings along with plenty of shops where you can buy pretty much all you need. However, for a slightly more economical shop, there is a supermarket called Euro Spin just outside the town. There are several good bars and restaurants – the wine is excellent and incredibly cheap! We were lucky enough to have two nights at bars with live music and the locals are very welcoming. One evening we were even treated to some rather interesting outdoor opera with acrobatic performances included – never a dull evening!
The Villa is in a fabulously peaceful location, despite being so close to the town (you definitely need a car!). We would love to return one day and explore more. Damian and his wife Sharon have put their heart and soul into renovating the property and the result is amazing. It’s heart breaking that they cannot now use the larger property due to earthquake damage (something that has afflicted many houses in the area). We hope that the repairs happen soon so that more people can go and enjoy everything this gorgeous place has to offer.
Having flown into Ancona on very reasonably priced tickets from London, my wife and I and the 2 children picked up the hire car at the airport and in just over an hour we reached our holiday destination.
Wow! what a venue – we were immediately taken back by the beautiful rustic surroundings – breath-taking views of the Sibilini mountains and the picturesque town of Sarnano less than a mile away.
Villa San Raffaello catered for all of our needs - evenings by the fire BBQ’ing taking in the sights and sounds of rural Le Marche. Lunchtimes under the shade of the grape vines in the garden, siestas in a hammock in the afternoon.
Cooling off in the large pool and then relaxing in the shaded areas around the pool overlooking the beautiful scenery while the children played in the water.
Inside the apartments – you are met with a stylish kitchen with all the appliances you need to make your holiday a pleasant experience with music system and wifi to suit - exposed stonework and wooden beams are bonus countrified features evident in most of the rooms. Clean simple bathrooms, comfortable bedrooms with shuttered windows to keep out the heat!
Pizza oven gave us an another option for alfresco dining in the traditionally paved courtyard for those extended mealtime chats and drinking.
Sarnano is a bustling friendly historical town, offering a full range of traditional restaurants and bars to suit, local musicians and performers entertained us on most nights we went out.
There are many options for day trips to other historical places of interest although in our week we had we didn’t feel the need to venture too far out and visit them.
We did venture out to nearby natural waterfalls to cool off on one afternoon and the nearby bright blue water of Lake Fiastra is another great alternative to the pool for a rustic swim and within spitting distance of Villa San Raffaello.
Would I recommend this Villa? – absolutely! (5 stars from us) – we’ll be returning without question!
Thank you Damien and Sharon who were fantastic hosts, fluent in Italian and able to help us and advise us as required.
The setting of Villa San Rafaello is simply stunning. We loved having breakfast each morning on our balcony overlooking the beautiful town of Sarnano and the view from the pool to the majestic Sibillini mountains was breathtaking. There is lots of space and a choice of areas to eat al fresco, a fire pit for bar-b-ques and even hammocks strung from the trees in a shaded area. The apartment we stayed in was upstairs over a pretty courtyard. It was well laid out, attractive and was well equipped with everything we needed for a family of 4. The nearby town of Sarnano is well worth exploring and there are lots of good places to eat. The area itself is definitely one I will return to - there is so much to do from walking in the foothills of the mountains (don't miss the natural plunge pool from glacier melt water!) to exploring mountain swimming lakes, nearby towns and villages and even the coast is only about an hour away.
If you like Italy then you'll love Le Marche and Villa San Raffaello is the perfect base to explore it from. Days by the pool, with its idyllic views of the village of Sarnano were hard to drag ourselves away from. Sarnano has a great market, a good selection of restaurants, lots of lovely wee fruit and veg shops, amazing butchers ( I managed to mime a spatchcocked chicken, much to the amusement of the rest of the family ! ) and the local supermarket had everything you could possibly want for self-catering - plus an excellent charcuterie counter. The local tap water is mountain spring water - cold and sweet - try it from the water fountain in the village square, so good on a hot day, or any day ! We made good use of the villas' fire-pit most nights for dinner and it was a lovely area to meet the other guests too. Toasted marshmallows with a glass of local wine while the sun goes down is hard to beat ! The surrounding area is chock full of the most amazing scenery and places to visit - not touristy at all and incredible value for eating out. Our apartment in Villa San Raffaello was perfect - spacious, comfortable, clean and well equipped. There's lots of wee corners in the gardens with hammocks and shade to chill out in with a book. Pick your own figs for breakfast and some courgettes and lettuce for dinner ! Can't recommend this place enough if you are looking for a relaxed vibe and a taste of unspoilt rural Italy. Damien is a font of information and was so helpful to us when we had problems with our rental car. This area really is a hidden gem. Shhh... don't tell anyone !!!