Monday, December 5

My Typical Late Autumn Day in the Countryside

Buon Giorno! I love cold blustery Autumn mornings like today. The sun won’t show itself for at least another hour, all the fires lit, and coffee on the stove. We have our neighbors’ giant dog Soum with us for the next month snoozing in front of the fire; such the perfect cliche.

Anyone who heats the home with wood will understand why we wake up at this unnatural hour in what is our ‘offseason’. Sleep in, and cold air begins creeping into this drafty stone farmhouse and unfortunately heat from a fire takes a moment to radiate out and begin having any effect. So, 5.30 AM wake up time it is! Procurement, movement, and burning of wood will be a major theme in our lives until sometime next Spring.

Comfortable alongside the dog by the fire enjoying our cappuccinos, checking the news, email, and most importantly, a solid hour of language study while the brain is fresh and absorbent before the Sun peaks over Monte Rupert.

With only about 9 hours of daylight this time of year, I set off with the dog into the hills as soon as there is enough light to see. We hike up above the Candigliano valley, walk along the ridge and descend down to the mill of Basillo on the south end. It’s a bit crowded in the woods this time of year with truffle, game, and mushroom hunters who are more accustomed to seeing pointers and spaniels roaming; noses buried in the forest floor. Constantly I must calm the fear they have of the 45 kilo Rhodesian Ridgeback walking beside me, assuring he is very friendly and does not bite.

Todays projects include refilling the wood holes and cutting back the long shrubs.

I mentioned that our lives are consumed by wood. Before the really cold weather sets in I have to move this wood pile:

Into these spaces:

Fun Fact: From the time the trees are fell until the logs are burned; we must touch each piece of wood (8) EIGHT! times. Cutting, splitting, moving, stacking, moving again, into the house, and burned. I’ve skipped a few but you get the gist.

And now it's time to trim the shrubs. Ahhh the shrubs.
Last year I neglected pruning the long shrub/bushes that runs the length of the property along the road. During that time the hedges have exploded in size and have consumed the outdoor lights that once flanked them. Before the snow arrives weighing down the overgrown branches and breaks them, I must go though and cut everything way back. With a branch cutter and a pair of shears I turn this mess:

Into this:

Pruning everything back is not that difficult, hauling all the branches away and cleaning up is a whole different matter. By the end of spring everything will have filled back in looking neat and orderly.
This can be done anytime the plant goes into its’ dormant phase.

We loose light early here in December. After another walk with the dog (shorter this time and on the road) and dinner, bedtime follows shortly behind. You could say that most 12 year old children have a later bedtime than us, and that would be true. There is simply no point to staying up late. In Summer the situation is totally reversed. Most nights end after midnight as we eat later due to the heat of the day. Now in late Autumn the cold, crackling fire, and quite combine forces to lull one to bed at a unusually early hour.

I know this life sounds totally glamorous and my intentions are not to brag. Hopefully today we can cross one project of the list and then get back at it tomorrow bright and early!
- A post by Jason

Saturday, December 3

2017 Cooking Classes & Workshops in Italy - Celebrating 10 Years!

Join us for our 10th Anniversary!!
It's time to pop the Prosecco! We are very excited & proud to be celebrating 10 years of Cooking Classes in Italy - I can't believe it's flown by so quick!  Join us at the farmhouse & kitchen where it all began a decade ago! Check out the 2017 Calendar of Cooking Classes & Workshops in the works. 

It's never too early to start planning your next trip to Italy!  Here's a sneak peak at what's cookin' in 2017 to whet your appetite: 

Wood-Oven Class (make more than just pizza) 
Pickle, Preserve & Confit Workshops 
Gelato Classes!! 
Sausages from Scratch 
PLUS!  Workshop on Moving to Italy & Starting a B&B!

Hope to see you in the kitchen,
Ashley & Jason Bartner

Monday, November 28

An Autumn Drive thru Le Marche

Autumn is hands down my favorite time of year, especially in Italy! From the color of the falling leaves and the colder bluer sky to but the smell of the wood stove mixed with roasted chestnuts and spiced wine, we not only see the changes of the season but feel and taste them too. One of my favorite ways to spend an autumn afternoon is a road trip to nowhere in particular.   We live just outside of Piobbico in the shadow of Monte Nerone. This northern part of Le Marche is rugged and breathtakingly beautiful - reaching from the foothills of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea (which is only about a 45 minute drive). 

Recently we jumped in the car on a brisk day for a drive to the northwester corner of Le Marche where it meets Umbria & Emilia-Romagna to explore Frontino & Carpegna. 

Frontino has been included in the prestigious club: "i borghi piu' belli di Italia" The most beautiful villages in Italy. It is easy to see why - it may be small but stands tall over the valley below. The views from here are stunning and with a four sided clock tower covered in ivy it's perfectly picturesque and charming.

We stopped in Carpegna for the morning market and a stroll thru the 'big city.' Enjoyed a porchetta panino and started to make our way back home. After 10 years of living in this crazy country I am still amazed & in awe of the beauty with which we are surrounded by on a daily basis and thankful to call this little corner of Italy home.

A little history: FRONTINO

The history of Frontino is that of a long dispute between the Malatesta from Rimini and Montefeltro for the madman of this “sentinel” in the territory of Massa Trabaria. The Montefeltro finally managed to keep it to pass a fief Oliva of Piandimeleto their vassals. Frontino, important part of the Duchy of Urbino, where he remained until the end of the dynasty of the Della Rovere – Montefeltro (1631). But the character of the town is about Malatesta who fortified, who raised the Palace of the family and that they provided the mill and religious buildings.

The towers and the mighty walls are reminiscent of the origins of this embattled castle, advanced sentinel of Montefeltro.

The monumental fountain water sculpture by Franco Assetto, named after Catherine Remies Forlani as symbolic figure of teacher much loved by the people of Frontino.

Read more about it's rich past:

Saturday, November 26

#SlowlivedMoments from our Farmhouse

All autumn I have been posting short films of slow lived moments #slowlivedmoments from our farmhouse in Italy on instagram & Youtube - I just realized I forgot to share them with you! Join in and post your quiet, simple, country moments of cooking, sipping tea, chopping wood and tag it #slowlivedmoments. I will share on a few on here in December!

To start - here is one of my favorites - Falling Leaves & Wellies

Monday, November 21

Italian Recipes from Our Farmhouse Perfect For Your Thanksgiving Meal

My how the time flies - I can believe it's already the Holiday Season!
Here are a few favorite recipes from our farmhouse & cooking school to add to your Thanksgiving menu to compliment your big beautiful (brined) turkey:


ANTIPASTI (Appetizers)

PRIMI (First Course)

 DOLCE (Dessert)


For more recipes visit our recipe box - here  


Thursday, November 17

Podcast from Italy

We woke to the first hard frost of the year after a light snow on Saturday. Jason shares his tips for menu planning and preparing your holiday feast! From brining the turkey to making the most of your equipment - plan ahead & you'll do great! We talk Italian politics from the new garbage bins to Renzi's reform. Happy Holidays & thanks for listening!

Podcast from Italy #93: Turkey Talk & Planning Your Holiday Meal
Listen/Download/Subscribe via iTunes, Stitcher or Podbean!

Dr. Gaggi & Jason, during one of our Thanksgiving celebrations

Sunday, November 13

Video: Sausages from Scratch

A look at our Sausages from Scratch Cooking Class! Starting with a pork shoulder and breaking it down, adding just salt & pepper and a glass of wine (with a garlic clove) - a simple DELICIOUS local recipe from Le Marche! With two fun Aussie guests I filmed this during their sausages from scratch cooking class - then we devoured them!!

Thursday, November 10

Podcast from Italy: Truffle Hunting Adventure & A Feast for Ogni Santi

It's the end of the season at La Tavola Marche (farm, inn & cooking school), we fire up the mics as we prepare for winter. Thankfully safe & sound after another round of earthquakes in Central Italy, we chat about our mezzo-gallo (half rooster), kimchi & stocking up on olive oil. Ashley shares her truffle hunting adventures and Jason explains the traditions of local hunters and the unique feast for Ogni Santi (All Saint's Day)! Thanks for listening!!
Podcast from Italy - Episode #92 Available on iTunesStitcher & Podbean

Thursday, October 13

How to Own & Operate a B&B in Italy: Consulting Workshop April 2017

We are very excited to announce our first consulting workshop on moving, living & working in Italy! after years of consistently receiving detailed-question packed emails from expat hopefuls curious on how in the world we did it and wanting to know all the particulars of moving & opening a business,  Jason & I began our second business - No Half Measures Consulting (and a bit of filmmaking to!) For the past year we have been working with couples eager & excited with a passion to move to abroad to Italy to start a hospitality business.

So, what better way to merge our two businesses but host a No Half Measures 'Consulting Workshop' at La Tavola Marche farmhouse?!

This April 1-5 join us for a workshop on How to Own & Operate a Hospitality (B&B, inn, farmhouse or food & wine) Business in Italy - this will be a four day crash-course covering all the basics and answering your burning questions to put you on the road to a successful start of your new life in Italy!

Each afternoon will begin with aperitivi & interactive seminars before dinner covering the following:
  • How to Start a Business in Italy, understanding the business & tax structure
  • Finding the Property & Negotiating
  • Grass Roots Marketing & the power of Social Media
  • Operations
  • Hospitality & Exceeding your Clients expectations
  • Culture & Expat Life in Italy
  • Finding your Niche & Identifying your Clients
  • Small Business Owners Stories from Expats & Italians

On hand will be "Insiders & Experts" from an Italian Commercialista (Tax Account, Business Advisor Specialising in European Financing) Fabio Centurioni, Business Attorney, Small Business Owners (expats & Italians) and of course Jason & I! The business owners are a mix of entrepreneurs that are operate in diverse settings from the rural countryside to the heart of Rome - giving you a better understanding on the pros & cons of city vs. country locations & living while sharing stories of their struggles, successes & what keeps driving them forward. This will be an honest, informative, (I'm sure humorous), engaging and inspiring series of seminars/lectures over the five days!

I am super excited to announce a few friends that will be joining us on our panels & in our workshops:

 From The Beehive, Linda & Steve - long time expats and entrepreneurs with an eco-friendly, artsy budget hotel in the hear of Rome, as well as Cross-Pollinate a curated network of "cool places to stay" and if they weren't busy enough they are parents of three girls!

From the award-winning artisan Gelateria, Maki: Paola & Antonio will join us for our Stories from Small Business Owners for an Italians point of view of the bureaucracy and business operations & moving from Milan and the finance world to a sleepy fishing village making gelato!

Caroline & Louk, a retired Dutch couple that moved from the centre of Amsterdam to the deep Marche countryside. After filling their calendar & hosting family & friends for the past 8 years, they have begun to dabble in AirBnB & room rentals for the artists & music lovers at Isola del Sorbo

I'm guessing if you're reading the blog you know a bit about J & I already, so I won't bore you with our history but just in case: Here you go!

Head on over to La Tavola Marche to request more details and I will send you the full itinerary & a short q&a about your plans to move to Italy!
The Details: 
This boutique, intensive workshop is limited to ten participants.
Includes four nights & five days accommodations, breakfast & dinner with local wine daily, evening aperitivi, daily seminars, printed workshop materials and a one-on-one Skype chat before the workshop to help maximize your time in Italy & prepare for the trip! 
Visit for more details or email:

Wednesday, September 21

Podcast from Italy - Amazon in Italy, How we “Grease the Wheels” and Cooking Rabbit

Autumn is at our doorstep on this beautiful morning! This episode we chat about the modernization in Italy and the arrival of and the effects. An immigration update which leads us to a discussion on how we 'grease the wheels' out here... (And a side note of: Jason is in love with his new Carhart overalls!) Then we move on to the kitchen at talk about cooking rabbit. We announce our first Consulting Workshop in Italy for those of your dreaming of moving here to start a business!  -- Thanks for Listening!!

Podcast from Italy - Episode #91 Available on iTunes, Stitcher & Podbean!

He's all business!

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