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The Ideal Place for a Better Life

January 24, 2016

I'm stealing this tagline Le Marche Tourism Association uses for publicity because there's no other way to sum it up and thanks to Roberto Traini who took this amazing photo, you can see for yourself what an ideal place for a better life looks like!  The ideal place for a better life includes days filled with sunshine, but a year with four distinct seasons; an area with easy access to big cities, but not so close population, traffic and pollution infringes on your daily life; a place where old traditions still reign while new technology is catching on; acres and acres of farmland secure fresh, clean food to eat within zero kilometers; you can walk the shores of the Adriatic Sea in the morning where you can buy the catch of the day and then go skiing in the Sibillini Mountains in the afternoon, stopping for dinner at one of the many hilltop, medieval towns on the way home.  There are musical concerts, plays, poetry readings, art shows and operas for cultural enrichment.  Central Italy offers an active lifestyle with beach side boardwalks, volleyball and basketball; hillside hiking trails; water lovers enjoy swimming, paddle boarding, wind and kite surfing, and sailing; snow lovers head for the mountains for cross country and downhill skiing and snowshoeing. Of course, soccer is the king of sports and rugby is offered for those who prefer something a little more .... um, should I say, .... brutal.  The ideal place for a better life naturally includes access to healthy food, clean air and pure water.  We love Le Marche because one can really live here and it's no wonder that olive trees thrive in this sub-tropical zone.  Living in a region where good food is abundant with dedicated small farmers and producers is inspiring!  We are never bored and certainly never hungry!  But while I am more than a visitor here, I live here, and though I feel I belong, I still feel like a foreigner .... because I am.

Home is where the heart is .... so the saying goes.  While I have a part of my heart in Oregon where my roots run deep with family and friends .... the other part of my heart encompasses my new life along the Fermana coastline in Le Marche with open and wide reaching arms, pulling it all in close to me, to hold forever.  I have dreamed of an ideal place for a better life and I hesitate a little to write about it, but I suppose it's too late to keep it under lock and key for safe keeping if Le Marche Tourism is promoting it whenever and wherever possible.  I'm pretty sure the word is out after I saw the billboards at the Milan EXPO.  We found this area seven years ago on a trip to introduce our sons to their family Ponzi heritage that originated in the neighboring region, Abbruzzo.  It was love at first sight in Le Marche and fueled our dreams of finding a place to call our own.  In 2010, we took a leap of faith and went forward with our first home purchase in Italy.  Scary and exhilarating, we were not prepared for what followed.  We survived lots of challenges, those alone are worthy of a story, and the result so far is one of a work in progress that continues to unfold as we find ourselves deeper involved in Italian life and an idea that won't let us quit.

This year we completed our third olive harvest for our small start up company, Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which we started in 2013.  As we continue to sell direct to customers we also reach out to small and gourmet obsessed retailers who not only love good food, but love real extra virgin olive oil.  We are a boutique business, so our relationship with customers and retailers is personal and hands-on.  For us, one of the key elements in maintaining product freshness and authenticity is knowing the supply chain.  Extra virgin olive oil, much like wine, needs to be stored and displayed with care ... out of direct sunlight, hot lights and heat.  Selling direct to customers gives us more control over maintaining the quality of the oil as we store all our olive oil in a temperature control environment prior to shipping via air.  With smaller retailers and other online stores we enjoy communicating directly with the owner.  Challenges boutique retailers face is finding unique products that are not mass imported and this is where we help fill the gap.  Our import company, Fratelli Ponzi, LLC imports our olive oil (Iceland, UK, and United States so far) and we are now introducing a complementary product, balsamic vinegar from Modena.  Aligning with our personal and professional goal to support owners of artisan products, we are collaborating with one of Modena's oldest balsamic producers that has retained small production for 800 years to ensure quality through their traditional methods.  From our region, we are a few short hours via car to Patrinieri Acetaia in Modena.  Casal Cristiana extra virgin olive oil and Paltrinieri balsamic vinegar are two artisan products matched perfectly for the discerning home cook or chef!  But often, we walk out our door for a day around Le Marche and always find something special and delicious!  It's time to share the wonderful gifts from paradise.

When the travel bug calls to visit beyond one of the prettiest and healthiest regions in Italy we just hop a plane, board a train or pile in the car and within hours we find inspiration to fill our plates with balsamic, parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto and more that complements the endless supply of artisan products just right outside our door.  If you want to taste Italy, browse our website and begin your journey with us and start with our own Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  We hope you love it as much as we do!  You deserve to experience the flavors from the ideal place for a better life.





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