Castelfidardo 18th -22nd June 2018

During one of our weekends last year Frances mentioned that she had a big
birthday coming up in 2018 and that what she really would like to do to
celebrate it would be to go to Castelfidardo (where all the best accordions are
made!) with her accordion friends. Gill immediately said that she too had the
same big birthday coming up around about the same time – and so the idea was
And so, in the very early hours of the 18 th June, nine of us from the No1 Ladies,
plus some partners and friends, met up at Heathrow to fly out to Bologna.
Heathrow was – well Heathrow - I suppose, and we weren’t able to sit with each
other on the aircraft, but that was soon over. We were in the capable hands of
tour organiser Peter Le-Geyt and we were met at the airport by our own
personal coach and driver. The weather was glorious – hot and sunny, but that
lovely dry heat, not humid at all. First stop was at the Condé vineyard, where we
were booked in for a lovely lunch – plus a glass of their wine! – and a trip around
to see all the processes of the wine making, at the end of which we were all in a
thoroughly relaxed mood and getting into the Italian way of life. Castelfidardo is a beautiful little hilltop town, full of history, full of accordion makers and full of all things accordion related – absolute Mecca for accordion players. We walked into the centre of the town and Peter had arranged for a young accordionist to come and play for us, so we sat out in the sunshine listening to this fabulous music and soaking up the atmosphere. Peter had also arranged for some accordions from the factories to be made available for us to
play whilst we were there – all huge 120 bass accordions – but it was great to be able to try them all and hear the differences between them. Italian breakfasts are superb – lots of fruit, meat and cheese and the most gorgeous pastries which just had to be sampled – and the coffee of course. And we had our very own Basil Fawlty style waiter, who was totally unimpressed by a group of English speaking female accordionists and our desire for Americano coffee rather than Espresso!

After breakfast we had a trip around the reed block factory – very interesting but difficult to hear with all the background noise; then on to the Beltuna factory – very efficient and impressive. We were allowed to play some of the accordions so everyone took advantage of that! After lunch we went to the Victoria showroom, which had the most wonderful exploded display of all the accordion parts up on the wall. Several of us tried out their accordions, but they also had a collection of Bandoneons in the back room, some of which were really
old and beautifully decorated, and we were treated to a short recital – the first time I had ever heard one being played. They also produced accordion “extras” including beautiful leather bags, so two of our number felt impelled to buy a souvenir! We then went round the accordion museum which, again, was fascinating – with some very old early models and precursors of the accordion in
there. Across the road then to see – and play – the largest playable accordion in the world – so of course we all had to have a go! A quick visit to where they make all the straps for the accordions and we watched them being made. Then the coach over to Recanati on the coast for our evening meal, a paddle in the sea and playing accordions out on the terrace until late. The next day was even hotter and we started with a trip to the bellows factory. This was absolutely fascinating. We saw all the processes of their manufacture and none of us had any idea that there were so many lovely things that you could do with the design and look of the bellows. Frances was smitten with one of the patterns for the bellows fabric and has now ordered that for her new Vignoni! They are a very progressive company and are utilising their enormous printing machines to create a range of microfibre beach towels and accessories, and also the cutting machines to produce a range of furniture. In the afternoon the main party went on a tour of the reed factory and then swimming at econati, but three of us went to the Siwa & Figlia factory – a very small family concern who produce very sweet sounding boxes. Into town in the evening for pizza.

There was a split again on the Thursday – another accordion factory for most in the morning, but a group of us stayed in the hotel and played music all morning – we even managed to get a smile out of Basil Fawlty! We all went out to Loreto for lunch – another beautiful little hilltop town with fabulous views over to Castelfidardo and down to the coast. The coach took the main party out to the
accordion accessories shop in the afternoon, but our morning group caught as local bus out to Sorello and we walked down through the woods to the beach. The whole afternoon was spent relaxing in the sun and swimming in the Adriatic – pure bliss! Aperol aperitif up on the terrace overlooking the sea, then we all met up again for the big birthday meal in the restaurant – complete with
birthday cake and sparklers. Accordions were again played for the benefit – or otherwise – of the other customers! The last day the weather finally broke unfortunately. We went to San Merino but only the very fast few managed to get to the top and see the view before the weather closed in. The rest of us were more concerned about our tummies and lunch and so all we saw from the top was mist! Then the airport and home again.

It was such a magical few days but we all felt as if we had been away for so much longer. It had been fascinating and I’m sure many of us would like to return – the place just gets under your skin. A huge thank you to Frances and Gill for suggesting it and making it happen, and also to Peter who organised it all but also allowed us to do our own thing if we wanted to, and was such a fabulous