Passion for Painting – Bert Jacobs

Passion for Painting – Bert Jacobs

A few years ago we were invited over to our friend’s house for supper in Montefiore. We arrived late, as usual, my fault not Michael’s!  We were introduced to a lovely Dutch couple, Constance and Bert Jacobs. I liked them instantly, they have a zest for life and adventure and love Italy as much as we do.

I was lucky to be seated next to Bert, a striking man with a wonderful laugh and enviable thick wavy hair! We ate delicious food, sipped wonderful wines and chatted all night.

He told me they chose to move to Le Marche because life here fits like a glove, I know what he means. The first time they visited le Marche, they fell in love. Twelve years on and they still feel blessed to have discovered this special part of Italy they call home. When the sun is setting they love to sit out on their terrace with a glass of wine, watching the changing colours of the sky. Quality of life is important.

Bert has a wonderful, calm aura and as the evening went on he talked to me about his greatest passion, painting. I love meeting creative, positive people who love what they do. I felt this was going to be an interesting evening.

He was born in the Netherlands and trained as a master painter in Utrecht. When he finished collage he wanted to go on to the Art Academy, but had to do military service. After the army he needed to earn some money. He started out as a freelance interior stylist, creating set designs and shop interiors.  He moved into the advertising business and stayed there for many years. His ambition was always to return to art, now retired and living in Italy he has the time and inspiration to paint.

I arranged to visit his studio the following week.  They have a beautiful town house in the historic centre of Montefiore. The living space covers four floors, the gallery is on the top floor. The house is beautifully designed, both Constance and Bert have an exceptional eye for detail.


When I entered the studio I was speechless and quite overwhelmed.  Surrounded by huge vibrant paintings, each one telling a story with colour, movement and passion. I gazed at each painting.  I step back, move to the left, to the right. Each position gives me a glimpse of something new, something hidden.

Bert is quite uncomfortable when asked how, what or why he  paints a particular piece. He told me he paints to express his creativity, feelings and emotion. His favourite theme is women, they are exquisite and unique. I agree!
He is inspired by beauty. A ballet, an ancient tale, a movement or an object. Expression, excitement and colour are characteristics of his work.

He paints on large wooden panels, using a spatula and acrylic paint. Working on a wooden base allows him to use more force when moving the paint around. The paint is colour fast, adheres well and is quick drying.

The paintings are very dynamic and have a powerful use of colour, but they also have a subtle and refined emotion. They are created with passion and sense of composition.

He is the most unpretentious artist I have ever met, which is very refreshing. He loves to hear what people see in one of his painting, everyone sees a painting through their own eyes.

Over the last few years we have become good friends and I visit his studio regularly. We have several of Bert’s paintings hanging on our walls at home. They bring a smile to my face and brighten up the day. Each time I visit his studio I fall in love with another one and always manage to find space for one more!

Family, friends and our owners constantly admire them and visit his studio to see his latest creations. Last year Bert was commissioned by our American friend to paint eleven paintings!  They now hang in her beautiful home on Martha’s Vineyard.

For more information on Bert’s paintings visit his Facebook Page or he is happy for you to visit his gallery: Via Garibaldi 2463062 Montefiore dell’Aso  Highlights info row image +31 6 24909723

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artisan Pasta from the Sibillini Mountains

Artisan Pasta from the Sibillini Mountains

Italy is famous for many things, especially food! Their passion for pasta is on a whole different level. Browse the local supermarkets around Le Marche and you will find aisle after aisle displaying every shape and make of pasta. Most Italian’s eat pasta at least once a day!

Here we give you a small insight into a special pasta made locally.

Regina dei Sibillini is a farm in Montefortino, Le Marche. They cultivate durum wheat on the Sibillini Mountains and use it to make pasta.  The late growing wheat is sown at the end of October and grows slowly under the falling snow between November and March. During this time, it rests, keeps warm and is slowly hydrated. The wheat grows and sprouts and from this originates the popular Italian saying …. ‘Sotto la neve, pane – under the snow, bread!’

The durum wheat has a strong ear of corn that overhangs on a very tall stem, usually measuring between 150-160cms. Its rustic nature contributes to the production of an excellent durum wheat flour. The fragrance released during the pasta making process is an intense scent of bread and biscuits!

Regina dei Sibillini produces pasta according to the artisan process. It is drawn through bronze wire and then put to dry at low temperatures.  Only wheat that comes from the topsoil at an altitude between 600 to 900 meters above sea level is used. Their philosophy is to cultivate a quality product.

The geographic position of the farm in the Sibillini Mountains guarantees a truly uncontaminated ambient: water and air.  Essential elements in the production of quality pasta.

This raw material cultivated, wholesome and with unique properties gives the product a characteristic taste rich in flavor. The aroma is distinguished the moment the pasta is cooked.

Compared to other durum wheat its low gluten content makes it much more tolerable.

“It is the bond with the land where we live, love and respect that brought us to undertake this journey. The nature that surrounds us is what inspired us. The best way to honour this is to capture the taste, smell and colours.”

Respecting the Italian tradition Regina dei Sibillini produces all the classic shaped pastas.

Their logo and packaging was inspired by the mountains. The icy colour of the snow, and the winter sky. The transparent opening on the front of the box allows you see exactly what you are buying. The irregular form of their logo reminds us of the white slopes and the mountains profile. The snow that covers and protects the wheat.

REGINA DEI SIBILLINI
via R. Papiri, 30 – 63858 Montefortino (Fermo)
Marche – Italia

Mangia Bene: Osteria Pepe Nero Cupra Marittima

Mangia Bene: Osteria Pepe Nero Cupra Marittima

Osteria Pepe Nero is a marvel.
Hidden away in the hilltop village of Cupra Marittima Alta is one of our favourite restaurants. Make the effort to search out this restaurant, you will be well rewarded.
A wonderful warm welcome from Michele Alesiani will greet you as you walk through the door. If you are carrying excellent wines watch that warm welcome turn into a huge grin. Michele loves wine, and knows what he is talking about. He loves to go around each and every table sampling the wine and giving his opinion on your choice!
I love the fact you bring your own wine it adds to the whole experience.
The evening is an event, be prepared to have your taste buds tingled. The interior of the restaurant is eclectic, warm and fun. The exterior terrace is ideal for evenings during the long summer months. Michele has an individual style that is evident in his food and every aspect of the restaurant experience.
The food tastes fantastic and is presented with an artist style that encourages you to take a food selfie! Our most recent experience was Dawns birthday at the end of January. A great party with good friends and family. Non-meat eaters are well taken care of and Michele always substitutes amazing options for the few dishes that have meat.
Great value for money and well worth making a special trip to experience this unique and special restaurant.
A few of the wonderful dishes we enjoyed that night:
A great all inclusive menu, and amazing value for money:

 

 

 

 

Michele Alesiani & his lovely family…

Address and Bookings….

Osteria Pepe Nero

via Castello s.n.
63064 Cupra Marittima, AP, Le Marche, Italy.

Highlights info row image+39 335 611 5534
Letters from Le Marche…..chapter two

Letters from Le Marche…..chapter two

Chapter Two – Florence

I gazed around the Piazza and sipped my cappuccino elegantly, copying the glamorous Italians on the next table. Trying not to get the milky froth all around my mouth.

I love to people watch.  The tourists racing to keep up with their flag bearing tour guides. The Nonna’s dressed in black, carrying their heavy bags of shopping back home to their families. I listened closely to the sing song melody of the Italian language, exaggerated with arms and hands waving in the air. Everything about the Italians is passionate and dramatic.

I meandered back to the hotel, absorbed in the sounds of the city. The walk should have taken me ten minutes. You guessed it, luckily for me I took another wrong turning!

I stumbled upon a lovely little shop halfway down a narrow street. The window had a wonderful display of tassels, braids and ribbons.

As an interior designer I am always on the lookout for things fabulous and unique. This was an Aladdin’s cave of colour and texture. I bought tassels in every shape, size and colour.  Natural greens, blues and siennas with a hint of gold.

Each item was lovingly wrapped in tissue and delicately placed in a posh paper bag. No sign of plastic in this shop!

Shopping in Italy is a very different experience.  Most shops are owned and run by family member. They are proud of what they do and love to tell you how many generations have worked there. Their knowledge is extensive, and they take the time it takes. Note to self, allow more time when shopping in Italy!

I floated back to our hotel, clutching my purchases and feeling rather proud of myself, I had found my way back.

My husband, Michael, was happy.  The rugby match had gone well, his team had won and he was celebrating with a cold beer in the hotel bar.

He looked suspiciously at my shopping bag. “What have you bought”? I told him,” gorgeous tassels in natural hues………” I received the typical response from a man who thinks shopping is only to purchase essential items, food and drink. “How many tassels do you need, what are they for, how much did they cost”?!!! I quickly changed the subject and asked about our dinner plans for that evening, while visualising one of the tassels threaded through an antique key, hanging from wardrobe I had recently finished painting.

I eat fish, no meat. Michael loves meat and eats fish. He had spoken to the hotel manager earlier and asked his advice on fish restaurants on the outskirts of the city. Away from the touristy eateries and high prices. He knew the perfect place!

We were picked up in a taxi later that evening, it was the first and only time I have travelled in a taxi in Italy. The manager had given the driver directions to the restaurant so we both sat back and enjoyed the drive across Florence. Thirty minutes later we pulled up outside a large wooden door, with no sign, in the heart of an industrial estate. We stepped out of the taxi and looked at each other, both thinking the same thing. This can’t be right. Before we had chance to get back into the taxi, it roared off into the distance.

We rang the doorbell and waited. I was feeling a little nervous. Not about my surroundings, but it was nine o’clock and Michael was hungry, we needed to find food before he turned all hunter gather on me.

The door opened and we cautiously stepped into another world. Before our eyes was a busy, bustling restaurant. A beautiful, yet simple décor. Delicious aromas wafting from the open kitchen blending with the lively voices of sixty plus Italians all talking at once. In the large walled courtyard, huge interconnecting sunshades provided a soft textured ceiling. The lighting was low and atmospheric, with a blend of candles and fairy lights. Each table dressed with a small vase of fresh flowers. Crisp white linen tablecloths draped down to the cool cotto tiled floor.

We were shown to our table, and looked around. There were large families, three generations enjoying a celebration together.  Young lovers with eyes only for each other. Young children out with their parents, babies peacefully sleeping in their pushchairs. Children are always made to feel welcome in restaurants in Italy, however posh or expensive. Family is very important and younger members are never excluded. Another plus for the Italian lifestyle.

Our waiter came to take our order.   This was going to be tricky. He spoke no English, we spoke no Italian and had left our phrase book back at the hotel!

We shouted “menu” at him and mimed opening a book.  Why do people shout in their own language at foreigners, expecting them to understand once the decibels are turned up?

He shook his head “no menooo, you wanta da otta fish o colda fish”. Whita wine o reda wine? Hot fish we both said, white wine we agreed

I glanced across at Michael, he was looking a little concerned. He’s lovely, but he likes to know what’s happening at all times, in the present and the future. I knew he would struggle with the concept of not being able to converse with the waiter, he loves to talk!

He also likes to see a menu, ask questions and check nothing has vinegar on it. He likes to see the wine list and chat about different grapes, countries, regions, years. He especially likes to see prices and mentally calculate how much the whole meal will cost. He likes to feel in control of the situation.

Our waiter disappeared into the kitchen and we sipped our wine, poured from a glass jug. Michael shared his concerns about not knowing what food would arrive and how many courses would be served. I tried to reassure him. “Let’s just relax and enjoy the experience, it will be fun to try new tastes and not know what to expect”.  He looked doubtful and took a large swig of wine, it was delicious, he looked happier.

The more courses we ate, the more wine we drank, the more he relaxed. I wish I could give you a detailed description of the food we ate, but I can’t. I can remember the interiors, because I seem to have a photographic memory for those. I think I drank too much wine and the food detail got lost. It’s a little hazy. What I can remember is that every dish was exquisite, fresh and unpretentious. The seafood was scrumptious the pasta cooked to perfection. I think we had seven courses, to be honest I lost count.

I have never seen Michael so relaxed, enjoying the present and not worrying about the future.  We had no idea how much this dining experience was going to cost, we didn’t care.

The waiter brought over bottles of grappa, mistra and limoncello, to help with the digestion! The limoncello was divine. Michael was so, so happy, he tried all three, twice.

We swayed over to the bar to pay the bill and hopefully order a taxi. Michael was very pleasantly surprised when he saw the total, half the cost he had toted up in his head. The bar man generously offered him another drink on the house. I began to wonder if I would be able to get him back to the hotel.  The taxi arrived and I managed to steer him onto the back seat and close the door.

We were dropped off at the end of a one way street, only a couple of minutes walk from our hotel. We needed a walk! In the distance we could hear opera music, as we walked closer I recognised an aria from La Boheme, one of my favourite operas. We entered the Piazza, and there under the moonlight of a warm summer’s evening were hundreds of people enjoying an open air opera. I looked up to the balconies of the surrounding apartments, each one crowded with local Italians holding a candle and swaying to the music. It was truly magical and that was the exact moment I fell in love in love with Italy.

 

Finding Fashion in Le Marche Italy

Finding Fashion in Le Marche Italy

Author: Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs  www.appassionata.com

Sometimes we just need a little retail therapy to lift our spirits in February, especially when there are sale bargains to be found!

I asked my lovely friend if she wanted to hit the Tods outlet with me that evening, YES she messaged back seconds later. I suggested meeting at my house at 5pm, the designer outlets close at 10pm, so plenty of time to search for bargains.

Classic Tods

 

 

 

I had visited the Outlets in Sant’Elpidio A Mare a couple of times, many years ago. I was optimistic I would remember the way, but decided to programme the sat nav, just in case. An hour later we were still driving around in circles being asked to do a U turn if possible!! I decided to pull over and ask for directions, as we cruised to a stop I noticed a police car behind. I asked if they could tell me the way, they smiled and said, “follow us” and off we went, breaking all speed limits until we screeched to a halt right outside the entrance.

Unfortunately, we realised the shop closed at 7pm, not 10pm, so there wasn’t a moment to lose.

Beautifully crafted bargains

This is a great way to shop the sales in Le Marche, surrounded by exquisite shoes, handbags and clothes, beautifully displayed and great prices.  No overflowing rails to search through or abandoned shoes scattering the floor. This is a calm, clean, uncluttered experience and I’m already wondering why I don’t shop here more often, apart from the cost!

I love this orange bag

I’m bedazzled by the new SS17 collection, a gorgeous array of shoes, bags and accessories in vibrant shades of orange, pink and yellow, my spirits have been lifted!

I cruised up and down the aisles searching for a bargain, but I was constantly distracted by glass cases displaying even more fabulous designs from their new range.

The gorgeous Eddie in her new shades

My friend Eddie did rather well, purchasing the perfect pair of shades and a lovely leather purse, both at knock down prices.

Tods, the perfect therapy when you are feeling a little blue!

We will return.

 

Looking for a home in Italy? Consider Le Marche

Looking for a home in Italy? Consider Le Marche

As published by Georgette Jupe         

With the sparkling Adriatic Sea and the Apennine mountains at a comfortable proximity, a hilly and vibrant countryside as far as the eye can see — you have to wonder why more people don’t talk more about the region of Le Marche. Those in the know however are quite aware of Marche’s positive attributes. And there are many. Central Italy has often been a hot place for expats to call home due to its low prices and stunning natural landscapes. It’s the kind of place where people truly find their joie de vivre (joy of life).

My husband and I left Tuscany behind for a night in Le Marche, our destination the hilltop town of Petritoli which sits pretty with high points offering views overlooking the Adriatic Sea. As we drove through the three arches and 15th century turrets, I knew immediately it was going to be a place I would love. The tiny medieval town boasts only four churches, a few restaurants, and a local population of no more than 2,500.  Truth be told, I have always had a very positive view of the Marchigianis, a humble and hard-working people who know how worthy their land really is.

Two such people who have certainly figured out this “secret” destination are interior designer Dawn and successful entrepreneur Michael Hobbs, originally from the UK . Since 2004 they have split their time between England and the beautiful town of Petritoli. They first discovered this area in search of a holiday home after a suggestion by Michael’s business partner. Choosing to stay here was an easy one for them to make, with a natural beauty and charm so less besieged by tourism than neighbours like Tuscany. Also, the proximity to local airports was a huge advantage for Michael and Dawn who travel back and forth to the UK frequently. Petritoli makes for an easy 45-minute drive from Ancona or an hour from Pescara.

[Piazza in Fermo, Le Marche]

They bought their first property around 2005 and started renovations, planning to then sell the property outright but then changed their minds.  “This is when the wheels started turning regarding starting our company offering fractional ownership,” Michael said. They founded Appassionata in 2007 with the idea to allow people part ownership of a property that Michael and Dawn completely renovate and furnish. After purchasing and renovating a few more places, they took their time setting up the business “we didn’t want to rush things, we wanted to do this right.” In fact, each property was chosen under careful consideration, for its proximity to the sea and airports, and also its potential after the renovations.

Each owner has a 1/10th ownership in the property which they have total control over and are allotted five exclusive weeks a year to use. The cost is roughly 90,000 pounds to 195,000 depending on the size of the property. With the favourable dollar to pound currency rate at the moment, this is really the ideal time for a property investments for those from the USA. Dawn and Michael’s properties sell off quick, momentarily there are only 9 of 10 shares left in the latest available property “Il Riposo”. None of the places are “cookie cutter,” each comes with its very own personality. Currently owners include people from Australia, South America, England, American and China.

[Dawn and Grandson Lucas]

After checking in with Michael and Dawn, they showed us to an exquisitely designed one-bedroom apartment underneath their own home in the 15th century Palazzo Scarsini in Petritoli. This space is mainly used for discovery visits from potential buyers– but they also rent this apartment on Airbnb, a steal at €125 per night considering I have rarely seen five star hotels this impeccable. Like every other of the properties that they have handled, it has been completely designed by Dawn. She handpicks everything from the liberty tiles adorning the floors and kitchen to each exquisite piece of furniture, a bowl of fruit and welcome bottle of wine finished the welcome.

 

[kitchen area of their beautiful apartment]

Finding a retreat in beautiful Patrignone

Their latest property “Il Riposo” a 12th century renovated townhouse is an absolute dream — true to its name which in Italian signifies “the retreat.” Located in the nearby town of Patrignone in the “Terre di Bonfini,” it was known locally as a 12th century artists’ colony founded by the Bonfini family whose names pepper each street corner. First in tribute to the painters Martino and Giacomo Bonfini and later the historian of King Mattia Corvino’s Hungarian court, Antonio Bonfini.

For me, Patrignone, facing east of the Adriatic sea signifies a quiet, picture-perfect example of a small borgo in Italy – think narrow cobblestoned streets which beautifully pave the way towards Il Riposo. It is an area also home to incredible views while the countryside beyond is dotted below with charming countryside villages. Year-around the town boasts only 150 residents, thus making this “retreat” a true reality for those looking to escape the crowds.

Patrignone is a frazione of Montalto delle Marche, the village of Montalto close by, just a few kilometers away and home to a few restaurants, shops, and a bank. Michael informed me of its illustrious past “What put this place on the map was Pope Sisto V” who was elected Pope in 1585, “he made Montalto a Papal State during his reign.”

With all of this in mind who wouldn’t want to call Il Riposo home? This three-floor light-and-airy luxury property is the perfect space for larger groups looking for a true “country and town” atmosphere with designer details. Dawns well-searched for acquisitions for the property from local artisans (like large terra cotta pots) have led to many of Appassionata’s buyers ordering items direct from these Italian small suppliers for their other homes.

[Kitchen – Il Riposo]

Inside you’ll find four spacious double bedrooms, three bathrooms, all in a luxurious 210 square meter (2269 sq. feet) space with plenty of open-plan space. All the better for enjoying the extraordinary views from the huge, airy kitchen. The cozy living room and dining space with its light colours, original wooden beams and custom, colourful furniture looked the perfect place to entertain guests, who like you, will thoroughly enjoy what is truly a slice of Italian paradise.

[Staircase of Il Riposo]

Walking outside, I was surprised to find the walled terraced garden even boasts a pool, albeit discreet for those who want their privacy. More importantly to note, Dawn and Michael hire local artisans and builders, which has gained them trust locally as respected business people that pay their bills on time – a not too frequent occurrence in Italy. “I often go to our carpenter and suggest an idea that he thinks is totally crazy,” Dawn laughs as she shows me around, “but eventually he always surprises me and himself too by creating exactly the one-of-a-kind item that previously only existed in my mind.”

[Outdoor pool of Il Riposo]

Dawn spends hours in her car driving around to look for the next great furniture piece or antique chandelier, everything is kept in a storage space before it finds its home in an Appassionata property. Their daughter India and her husband Charlie live nearby and help out with the business, owners with special requests can turn to them for customised requests.

You might be asking yourself, why not just buy a house outright instead of a fractional ownership? As was quoted in The Times “Owners might be able to afford a holiday home outright but don’t see the point if they’re only going to use it for a limited number of weeks each year. They like the fact that the property is managed and used all year around and they don’t have to worry about it when they’re not there.”

Which is a great point.

After all, imagine you don’t speak the Italian language (yet) nor have the will to weave yourself through endless Italian bureaucracy. Buying a fractional ownership means that essentially all you have to do is show up, everything is taken care for you upon arrival. For those scared to be locked in for life, don’t be. Re-sale is 100% possible, with Appassionata facilitating the deal between the current and new owners.

For Michael, it’s not about the money. In fact, they regularly turn down people who are looking to buy a share as a financial investment. Over coffee he quite rightly pointed out “what you get here in Le Marche is a real lifestyle investment.”

Since the seaside is so close, we decided to have lunch at an airy, beachside restaurant “Il Grecale” in the pretty resort town of Grottammare on Via Cristoforo Colombo. Though it’s January, the sunshine has brought locals out, biking or running along the wide stretch of promenade that runs parallel to the sea. Michael and Dawn know this place well, we order a bevy of seafood dishes, fresh pasta and swapped stories.

 

[Fresh pasta at Il Grecale]

That evening, tired but happy to come home to pretty Petritoli, we decided to visit a local wine bar suggested by Michael and Dawn, the “Cantina Antisociale,” adjacent to a gas station owned by the owner’s father just outside the town’s ancient walls. Cozy and welcoming, locals gather here amicably for aperitivo or a light dinner, tasty nibbles are brought out with every glass of wine. The young owner Simone is extremely passionate about the business and was more than happy to chat with us about his curated selection of wines. Later that night, we head to Ristorante Re Squarchiò where families were gathered in big groups for Saturday dinner. Though we were still full from lunch and our aperitivo, we dig into delicious fresh pasta and yet another bottle of Passerina wine.

The next morning, we lingered over one last cappuccino (doppio espresso for the hubby) at Bar Tre Archi with Michael and Dawn, who made us feel instantly at home. As I walked back to pick up our luggage, I heard the voices of mass (it was a Sunday) radiating from the steps below to our apartment and a few bellows of a laughter. Apparently, priests around here have a sense of humor. We stood on the steep steps reveling in the peaceful atmosphere, a comforting murmur from the building continued inside and that’s exactly when I realized my Petritoli visit can’t end just here. I have to come back.  A reminder about how so many people probably feel who come to Le Marche on holiday, it draws you in as easily as a laughter-filled wine-induced lunch on a Saturday afternoon. Even if it it’s just temporary, it feels like home. Michael and Dawn, we will be back.

Benefits of Buying an Appassionata Property?

  • Buy the weeks you are actually going to use each year
  • Align your costs with your usage
  • Make a lifestyle investment to share with family & friends
  • Own a more luxurious holiday home than you thought possible
  • Share the annual running costs of the property
  • Own a fully furnished interior designed home
  • Have your holiday home managed and serviced
  • Start your holiday the minute you arrive

Tips for Petritoli

Cantina Antisociale: a local wine bar, perfect for a before-dinner drink. Address: Piazza Costantino Tamanti,

Bar Gelateria Tre Archi. The place for a morning coffee and a chat with locals. I’ve also been informed that they make excellent homemade ice cream. Address: Largo Giacomo Leopardi, 5

Ristorante Re Squarchiò, excellent eatery to sample local seasonal cuisine form Le Marche, they offer a 25€ tasting menu (with wine). Reservations recommended. Address: Via Largo Tre Archi, 4/5.

Interested in checking out Appassionata’s “Il Riposo” in person or to learn more about fractional ownership? Contact Dawn and Michael here for a chance to see your potential next vacation home in Marche 

 

Letters from Le Marche …. chapter one.

Letters from Le Marche …. chapter one.

flo2

Over the past few years many people have asked me to write a blog, me, I’m not even on Facebook! But, I do like writing and relish the opportunity to share our Italian adventures with you.

Was it the classic midlife crisis move, maybe, maybe not, I like to think of it as making the most of life. In 2001 we had reached a cross roads in our lives, and the desire for adventure and change were strong. With four children almost grown up, we saw a window of opportunity, and jumped!

People frequently ask me why Italy, why Le Marche, quite simply we fell in love. Let me explain, up until a few years ago I had never visited Italy, we had travelled extensively around Europe and lived in America for a few years, but Italy remained undiscovered.

Out of the blue my husband, Michael, was invited on a business trip to Florence, and asked if I would like to join him, of course I jumped at the chance to visit the one country I had been longing to see.

I was so excited, landing in Pisa and catching the bus into the centre of Florence, I was finally in Italy for two whole days. As with every weekend, at home or away, there is always an important game of rugby on TV.  Michael searched out a bar with sky TV to watch the game that afternoon. I was determined to make the most of the short time we had, plus I knew the shops were fabulous. I have a terrible sense of direction, no inbuilt compass, no natural feeling of north, south, east or west. Sometimes I get hopelessly lost, but these are the times I discover hidden gems.  Florence was no exception, I was lost in minutes, wandering the crowded narrow streets which often led onto a beautiful piazza. I found a little café in the heart of the city, and ordered a cappuccino, my first lesson in Italian etiquette, don’t order cappuccino after 11am, it’s bad for the digestion!

Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs

To be continued…….

Meeting people…

IL Riposo External Photo 37One of the reasons I love what I do at Appassionata so much is because I get to meet some really wonderful people. I am very opinionated, (quite a few people would tell you that, including my husband Charlie!) but I’m also passionate about everything I do… what is the point of doing something, anything, if you don’t throw yourself into it and do it properly? It’s a philosophy which guides everything I do at Appassionata, it’s ‘how we do things’.

Please allow me to explain.

A month ago when I was in the UK I got a lovely email from a lady who was enquiring about our property, Casa Tre Archi.

Casa Tre Archi

Casa Tre Archi

She had seen us advertised in Gate-Away’s e-newsletter. They were going to be in Puglia looking at properties and after seeing our advert decided to come up to Le Marche and visit us. Immediately I got a good vibe from her, she was very pleasant and asked all the ‘right’ questions. We had several emails back and forth and then 2 weeks later I was meeting them in Petritoli to show them around. Colleen, Duncan and Angus arrived just before lunch. After a long drive from Puglia on a rather warm day they were happy to be here. I showed them around and they didn’t give much away in terms of interest levels, but this is quite normal- usually the people who come and are gushing about everything from start to finish are the people you don’t hear from again.

I left them to enjoy some lunch with the local groceries I had brought for them and then we arranged to meet for dinner at Re Squarchio, our local Osteria, where we would also be joined by my parents, Dawn and Michael.

Osteria Re Sqaurchio, Petritoli

Ristorante Re Squarchio

For our business its very important to us that people meet us and we meet them. I won’t go as far as to say that we have an interview process where if you score less than 90% you don’t qualify but we seem to be able to tell instantly upon meeting people if what we are offering is going to be suitable for them and for us. We do seem to attract very likeminded individuals, families and couples. They all have a deep love of Italy and all it offers, they are all wanting to make a change in their life, setting aside time for themselves, family and friends, away in their home from home. Many of our owners have high powered/stressful jobs and so when they come here they re charge, relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility.

After a lovely meal out with the Rouse family and having spoken to them a little bit more about the house and the buying process we said good night and they wondered up to the local café to have a gelato and a digestivo. They said that they would be in touch but in the meantime would I send them the contracts and one of the current owners details so they could talk to them about their experience.

Within 2 days Duncan called and said that they had decided to buy. We were delighted as they are lovely people and we knew that they would fit in perfectly as part of the Appassionata family.

They have now completed the purchase process and chosen their 5 weeks to use this year and we are looking forward to welcoming them back in August. From viewing to becoming owners in Casa Tre Archi took 15 days.

So back to where I began. I knew instantly that Colleen was someone who, like us, was passionate about Italy, and together with her terrific sense of humour, shared by her husband Duncan and their son Angus, we had a fair amount in common; they were likeminded people, both with us, and our other owners, the Appasionata family, and we’re delighted that they have joined us.

Spring clean

Spring clean

The clocks have gone forward an hour, our evenings are longer and lighter and the air feels different, it smells of summer. This is the time of year to de-clutter and spring clean, both at home and work!

le marche (1)

Le Marche

The last few weeks here in Le Marche (where? I hear you say… on the east coast of Italy about half way down the boot), my husband is relieved that I am no longer sneaking the thermostat up on the central heating! I’m actually going around the house and throwing open windows, letting the blend of mountain and sea air float through the rooms, bliss.

In our house I have to admit that every month a ‘Spring Clean’ has to take place. With two small children, a dog and my husband, there is a constant trail of mess! I turn my back for a few seconds after cleaning one area to find that Millie-Mary, our young daughter, has decided to tip up the bag of toys I’ve just packed away! Cornflakes are found in the bath, the dog’s water bowl has been tipped over again, and the neatly stacked pile of clean laundry has been thrown around the lounge! It’s a never-ending game…

However, in my business life things are different. When a Spring Clean takes place at Appassionata HQ, it really does happen, and we can step back and be proud of what has been accomplished and really see and feel the change.

During the past week on Estate Giacomo Leopardi, Charlie and his team have been very busy. The exterior of Casa Giacomo has been painted, the main gates stained and all the plants (including hundreds of lavender) have been pruned. It looks wonderful- all fresh and clean, neat and tidy. Over the next couple of weeks similar work will be happening in Casa Leopardi.

Casa Tre Archi 2

Casa Tre Archi

Casa Tre Archi, the house we are currently marketing, now has all its garden furniture out on the roof terrace. With newly potted plants on both the roof terrace and the decked garden area, its now ready for owner’s to sit outside, relax and enjoy their surroundings.

Most exciting of all is the big ‘Spring clean’ on our website. After 3 years we thought it was now time to update and de- clutter our old site and go for a cleaner, slicker and more elegant site.

We have grown and matured over the last few years and so to reflect this we are creating a more sophisticated website. Colors, fonts, images and style will now reflect the business Appassionata is today.

Having just completed a two day intensive course in London with e-consultancy (highly recommended) on digital marketing, I now have a real understanding around the value of a website to a business. The importance of making your website work for you and getting as much traffic to your site as possible.

I found it very interesting and learnt so much- and I’m sure the information I have gained will be a huge help as I move forward in helping to grow our business over the coming years.

Having recently been handed the reins to the Appassionata’s social media accounts including facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest etc, it’s amazing to see what grabs people’s attention and what doesn’t. We are delighted to have welcomed many new followers throughout our social media channels and we hope you will all enjoy watching us grow.

Exciting times ahead for the Appassionata Team. Keep a look out for our new website coming soon…..

Ciao,

India

This very special place we now call home…..

This very special place we now call home…..

Petritoli, Le Marche. Italy.

Petritoli, Le Marche. Italy.

Are you amongst the many people who are put off the idea of looking at something you know you like, and think you’d be interested in buying, because you don’t want the usual spiel that many sales people bore you with?

Take me, I travel fairly frequently and like to purchase things, like many women do, in duty-free. However, if one of the overly smiley and falsely jolly shop assistants comes over, and starts pestering me about how my trip was, where I am going to now etc. at 7am as I’m browsing, I will often just walk out, as I want to decide, in peace, which perfume or lip gloss I want to buy, without any pressure.

I like to take this into account when I have clients coming over to view our properties in Le Marche, where we sell fabulous homes as fractional ownerships. A slightly bigger purchase I know than a £60 perfume or £25 lip gloss, but still these things matter.

We want people to immerse themselves into the beautiful region of Le Marche, to discover the place we hope they will decide to call home in Italy.

As they drive along the coast road and inland to the rolling hills, scattered with vineyards olive groves and stunning towns quite literally perched on top of hills, many of our visitors drive with the windows down, as fresh, sea air meets mountain air, and we know it’s hard to do anything other than relax.

As you drive up into the medieval town of Petritoli, you’ll see the locals, who will be curiously looking at what’s happening; for many of them, this has been home for… well forever. A trip down to the coast, just 20 minutes away is as far away as they’ve ever been.

Pulling in front of the ancient three arches, an unmistakeable gateway to the town, you will feel like you are stepping back in time. Walking along the narrow cobbled streets, dotted with cafés, bars and restaurants you will feel the warm, yet curious, welcome of the locals.

We will be here to meet you, and show you around our unique property, Casa tre Arche. But don’t worry, there will be no power point presentation, or heavy, pressured sales pitch. Far from it, we are here to show you the treasures that lie within, and to answer any questions you may have, usually over lunch or dinner, with you as our guests… a very Italian experience.

Where possible, and if Casa Tre Archi is available, we love our prospective clients to be our guests for the night, so that during their discovery trip they get the best possible chance to see and feel what a special place this really is.

Buona Giornata,

India Hobbs-Mauger

http://www.appassionata.com/urban.html

http://www.appassionata.com/visit.html

www.appassionata.com

ifh@appassionata.com

Stunning views from the roof terrace of Casa Tre Archi.

Stunning views from the roof terrace of Casa Tre Archi.