2014 will see the world celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family. It is a time for reflection and refocusing on the importance of family and for understanding how families have developed since the original Year of the Family in 1994.
With this focus very much in mind, Lonely Planet has recently published its list of the best family travel destinations of 2014, while the Sunday Times has flagged up the most popular countries in which to buy a holiday home. Both lists point to Italy as a destination of choice during 2014, so what is it about the boot-shaped country that so captures the hearts and minds of those who visit it?
For Brits, of course, the weather is an important factor and Italy in this respect offers the best of both worlds, with baking sunshine in the summer and fabulous skiing and snowboarding conditions in the winter. Family holidays can therefore be focused around beach time during the hotter months and around adventure activities in the mountains as the nights begin to draw in.
Food, too, is a huge plus point for Italy in terms of its position as one of the world’s top holiday destinations. Pizza and pasta, along with some of the best ice cream on the planet, are always popular choices with younger family members, as well as with older ones. And in a culture where children are welcomed in restaurants and stay up late as the norm, dining out can be a truly stress-less family occurrence.
For businesswoman Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs and her family, Italy’s charms were sufficient to draw them to the country on a more permanent basis. Since moving there in 2007, Dawn and family have set up fractional ownership company Appassionata.
Three generations of the family are involved in running the business, though as grandson Lucas is only five his role is currently restricted to directing the other family members during the annual olive harvest at the estate of one of Appassionata’s luxury holiday homes, Casa Leopardi.
Dawn has found that the owners of Appassionata’s properties have found the family element to be key in their decision to purchase through her company. She explains,
“Italians love family and personal service, and that’s very much what we are about at Appassionata. Many of our owners have commented on how nice it is to deal with a real, human company rather than a faceless corporation. They like the personalised approach that our family takes to the business and find it comforting that we are just ten minutes away while they are staying in Italy, so that we are on hand should they need anything.”
Dawn has also discovered just how popular her first two properties, which she and husband Michael restored from tumbledown farm buildings, have been with their owners’ children. Set in an idyllic five acre estate in the rolling countryside of Le Marche, the grounds offer the space for the children to run and play as much as they wish, as well as to involve themselves in the grape, olive and lavender harvesting, should they so desire.
Now with two new properties under development, the Appassionata team is looking to focus on other aspects of family life for their prospective owners. Both of the new properties – the three bedroom townhouse Tre Archi and the five bedroom Palazzo Scarsini – are conveniently located in the delightful medieval town of Petritoli. Surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes, they offer the ultimate convenience for families with children of all ages. From strolls through the piazzas to dining in the evening sunshine on one of the properties’ spectacular terraces, owners can immerse themselves in traditional Italian town life, while still being just 20 minutes from a blue flag beach and 45 minutes from the Sibillini Mountains.
“There’s a lot of positivity in Italy about the housing market beginning to recover this year. At Appassionata, we have just one fraction of Casa Leopardi left for sale (at £195,000), while considerable interest in Tre Archi (£55,000 per fraction) and Palazzo Scarsini (£100,000 per fraction) has already been generated, in advance of restoration works being completed in the spring and summer respectively. All signs point to 2014 being a turning point for Italy’s housing market.”