How nice of you to take a look at our website!
My name is Monique and together with my husband, Robert, we set up Azienda Cerqueto in 2001 in the village of San Ginesio in Le Marche. Our story is a bit different from ones you maybe heard before. Robert and I worked abroad as engineers for development projects during and after our studies in Tropical Culture Engineering. Robert as project manager and I as a gender expert. As a student, Robert went to Sri Lanka and Pakistan for his internship and graduation thesis, while I ended up in India, Argentina and Egypt. As a family we lived and worked in an oasis in Egypt, then in the African bush in Tanzania, and then in Zimbabwe.
When our children got a little older and had to go to school, we started looking for a place to settle. This was not so easy, because we had lived in some of the most amazing places. For our children we still wanted the space, the nature, and the freedom in which they could grow up. We ourselves wanted, in addition to work that would offer us new challenges, a place where we could spend a lot of time outdoors in nature, enjoy good food, be together with our family and friends and not have a hectic existence. We found all this in Le Marche; and after more than 20 years, we still enjoy living and working here!
When we decided to settle somewhere for the children for a longer period of time, the difficult question arose: where? Robert wanted to go to Ireland, while I wante to go to Portugal. But in the end we chose Italy. We first went house hunting in Umbria. On one of the last days we had almost decided to buy an already running agriturismo, when the estate agent advised us against it. Too many other foreigners, he said.
While still in Zimbabwe we started searching the internet again and because many in Umbria advised us against Le Marche, interest was aroused. Ideally located between mountains and sea, it seemed like a challenge to us. There wasn’t much for sale yet, but after a long search we had a list of five properties that we thought met our conditions.
Robert then flew to Italy and went to see the properties with feedback to the home front in Zimbabwe every evening. We immediately took the plunge because a building (or more precisely a ruin) met the conditions in terms of price and size and had a view on the day of viewing that reminded Robert of the Black Valley in Ireland. At the estate agent’s office, the price was negotiated directly with the owner, and the provisional purchase contract was signed. Very exciting but also nice to be able to start a new adventure with the children.
In July 2001 the sale was closed at the notary and we then moved to Le Marche. We immediately set up Le Marche Explorer to create an income in addition to Robert’s income as a consultant. We immediately started demolishing walls, roof and floors ourselves. Everything stone by stone, roof tile by roof tile, a huge job. In the meantime, all plans were made and permits applied for, and in February 2002 we continued with the reconstruction together with the contractor. In 2003 we built the swimming pool and in 2004 we were able to receive our first guests. Fortunately, we were able to borrow money from my parents, because no mortgage could be taken out on a ruin.
We have worked very hard and although there have been many difficult periods, we have not regretted it for a moment. And now, after more than 20 years, we still live there and you are very welcome!