The Monti Sibillini National Park is close, a spectacular mountain refuge famous for its eagles and wolves, and for its villages. All around the house (you must negotiate a track to find it) are hills and valleys of great beauty, and the handsome little town of Amandola is minutes away, with one of those piazzas that remind you how important beauty once was – all such a relief from the crowded coast. The greatest draw of them all is the town of Ascoli Piceno, one of Italy’s finest. Make your rendezvous just ‘Café Meletti, Ascoli’; it is almost as seductive as the Café Florian in Venice. La Querceta itself is a big, handsome old farmhouse on a hill, with huge bedrooms encased in fine wooden beams and floors, and with the best beds imaginable with lots of snowy down and crisp white cotton. It is all impeccable, under the careful eye of Giovanna – low-key, kind and modest, but a good cook and purveyor of cakes. With the garden and pool and the long views you may not want to move – but you should get out to see both the Park and Ascoli.