The Perfect Romantic Getaway in the Heart of Italy.

The Perfect Romantic Getaway in the Heart of Italy.

“Solo Per Due”

Italians are arguably the most romantic lovers in the world.

The word “romance” originated ‘from or about Rome’, which would suggest just about anything Italian is considered romantic. Italians have their beautiful nature, fantastic food and wine, their rich history and culture, and a melodious language.

We would like to give you the opportunity to enjoy a little romance here in Italy.

The Palazzo Scarsini Apartment nestles within the medieval town of Petritoli in Le Marche. This luxurious one bedroom apartment is the perfect place for those wanting to relax and unwind amidst the 15th century vaulted ceilings and chandeliers.

Enjoy a gentle stroll along the winding cobbled streets and you will find friendly cafes, wine bars and restaurants, serving traditional Italian food and wine.

Celebrate your special time together in Italy.

Please contact Dawn and Michael at – info@appassionata.com for more information, or please go directly to Airbnb to make a booking.

Letters from Le Marche …. chapter one.

Letters from Le Marche …. chapter one.

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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…….

Rest easy, in beautiful Italy

Rest easy, in beautiful Italy

It’s been music to our ears that Italy has topped a survey by Aviva unveiling it’s not only home to the best wine and food, but now a global hotspot for a great night’s sleep too!

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Just ask some of our happy owners, and they’ll tell you that from the minute you step off the plane in Italy, a wave of relaxation flows over you. Many owners have had some of their best night’s sleep while staying in Le Marche. Whether it’s the amazing sense of beauty, the clarity of the air, or the indulgence of delicious local food and wine, there is a tranquillity to Le Marche that promotes a sound nights’ sleep.

At Appassionata, we go the extra mile to ensure an owners’ stay is restful from the outset. To help them get the most out of their precious weeks in Le Marche, the houses are fully prepared, allowing them to immediately start their holiday without the worry of making the beds, cutting the grass or cleaning the pool – providing a real sense of home from home!

Originating from the UK, and with Appassionata being a UK based company, we also paid close attention to where Brits came on the list, and the answer was bottom! So, now knowing that Brits need a break – we’ll let you into some secrets of how Appassionata can help you make the most of those precious vacation days you have each year:

Minimal maintenance:

One of the biggest gripes we often hear about owning a home abroad is the annual maintenance and upkeep, which we appreciate can be a huge inconvenience when your day to day life is thousands of miles away. At Appassionata, we take that worry away. Keeping your holiday home spotless throughout the year, and ensuring everything is pristine and in full working order for your arrival. In fact, the only thing you’ll need to fix yourself is a celebratory drink!

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Travelling light:

It’s no secret that overseas travel involves a lot of planning, packing and preparation, especially if you’re going to be staying abroad for an extended period. As we want your experience to be easy and comfortable from start to finish, there’s no need to bring large suitcases containing some your favourite possessions. Once you bring your favourite home comforts and essentials, we’ll store them safely and securely for you, and ensure they’re just where you left them the next time you come to stay.

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Live like a local:

Escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life is often top of our owners’ list of requirements when buying a property in Italy. We know how important it is to strike the balance between buzzing tourist attractions and quiet authentic hideaways, for a truly rich experience. Therefore, we only bring to market properties we adore, in unique locations that are perfect for owners looking to ‘live like a local’ but with all the amenities they could need – and in Le Marche, we know we’ve found the best of both worlds.

So if you find yourself as one of the 37% of Brits in desperate need of a restful break, why not make your dreams of relaxation and recuperation a reality with Appassionata?

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Your Great Escape: why now is the best time to buy  a holiday home abroad

Your Great Escape: why now is the best time to buy a holiday home abroad

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The US dollar is at a thirty-year high against the British pound, and rightly so American jetsetters are casting their eye across the pond and setting their sights on trips abroad that will now see their money stretch a lot further.

With a reported 50% surge in stateside searches for UK accommodation, there could be a flurry of American travellers exploring Great Britain. However, for those looking to get off the beaten track of London sightseeing, and instead immerse themselves in authentic Italy – I say there has never been a better time to consider buying a fractional share in an Appassionata property!

Now I know what you’re thinking, our properties are based in Italy, which of course they are. But, the properties are actually owned by UK based non-trading companies, meaning they are priced in pounds’ sterling. Couple this with the fact that the fractional ownership buying process is also very straightforward and avoids all the complexities and substantial costs associated with purchasing a property outright in Italy – it’s a savvy option for discerning Americans to consider.

So, if you’re reading this from across the Atlantic, then I will leave you with a parting thought; prioritising a lifestyle investment like this now could see you afford a third more luxury for your money. Looking to your future, you will own a one tenth share in a stunning luxury property, giving you a picture-perfect family space for five weeks’ escapism each year – and it will last a lifetime.

To read more about our property on the market, Il Riposo, and to find out about our Fractional Ownership model head here, and I hope to see you on a discovery visit to Italy soon.

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!

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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.

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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.

There’s more to Italy than just food and art

Italy is making waves by turning stereotypes on their head — and selling the world its more serious side.

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A country of pizza makers? Look instead at Italy’s 1,000 major infrastructure projects in 90 countries, a new promotional video suggests. The land of Latin lovers? Don’t forget Italy’s huge trade surplus in manufactured goods. A nation of happy-go-lucky children? Think again, the advertisement says: Italy was the world’s third country to launch a satellite into orbit.

People here are reacting with surprise at the possibility that Italy may have finally figured out how to market itself abroad — by acknowledging stereotypes only to show a different “Made in Italy” that Italians can be proud of.

The ministry of economic development debuted the video “Italy, the Extraordinary Commonplace” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week. By Monday, it had garnered nearly 370,000 views on YouTube.

“A good promotional ad? By the Italian government? In English? There must be some mistake,” leading commentator Beppe Severgnini wrote in Corriere della Sera this weekend, giving the video an enthusiastic thumbs-up and noting it was the second most-watched video on the paper’s website.

The eurozone’s third-largest economy has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country and an artistic and culinary heritage that are the envy of any nation. Yet it has never managed to market itself effectively for tourism or investment, tarnished by political instability, bureaucratic hurdles, a slow justice system and inflexible labor laws.

But there are signs Italy is starting to do things differently. Recently, the culture ministry posted wanted ads for directors for 20 of its top museums, hoping to bring in foreign know-how (and potentially private funding) for its cultural treasures.

The economic development ministry says the aim of the clip was to “generate new understanding about our country, its excellence and its real place in the world, to stimulate growth overseas in the “Made in Italy” brand and increase foreign investments at home.”

Follow Nicole Winfield at @nwinfield.

By NICOLE WINFIELD
Associated Press

Return of foreign buyers to Italian property market set to continue in 2015

The last year has been a good one for the Italian real estate market and going into 2015 there are still good buys to be found in many areas, it is claimed.

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‘If the first quarter of 2015 is as busy as the first quarter of 2014 then this will be a very positive sign indeed and I can see no reason why not. The Euro is weaker against the Pound which is a great advantage and of course encourages clients to purchase more readily,’ said Linda Travella, who has been working in the country’s real estate industry for over 20 years.

She has picked Puglia, Lake Como and Tuscany as the most popular areas for overseas buyers in 2014 and is certain this will continue into 2015 and pricing at the right level will still be the key to getting a sale.

‘The Tuscan market was hit the worst in the 2008 crash and that means that the possibility of finding a good buy in Tuscany is still excellent. If clients put their property on the market at an inflated value it will not sell as there are too many sellers prepared to negotiate to obtain a sale from a buyer who has the cash,’ she explained.

She points out that it is possible, for example, to buy a fully renovated two bedroom apartment close to Volterra furnished or unfurnished with shared pool, starting from as little as €260,000.

She predicts that British buyers will return to Lake Como in 2015 while Russian buyers have decreased. But Swiss and German buyers are still strong. Overall she expects the €500,000 plus market to be more buoyant in 2015.

Sales at the lower end of the market are expected to be strong. ‘The market at €150,000 and under returned in 2014 and I see this trend continuing. Why leave your money in the bank or building society and receive hardly any interest, shares also lost value between April and October 2014 so an investment in property seems a much better option,’ said Travella.

‘I think the first quarter of 2015 will show a great deal of interest with clients viewing in February, March and April. We are seeing more interest from the UK market than in the past five years with the Europeans still also very interested buyers,’ she explained.

‘The US market seems to be also showing some interest compared to the past years with some clients already talking of viewing in the first and second quarters,’ she added.

Her firm Casa Travella has also seen a huge surge of interest in 2014 in property in Puglia but many buyers were ‘just looking’. However, she expects these buyers returning to purchase in 2015.

She also believes that The Dolomites could be an up and coming area in 2015 as property is hard to find but a great investment and not just for skiing. Her other top tip is Southern Le Marche where property by the sea can be bought at a much better price than on the Tuscan coast.

Something for the weekend : Prosciutto

The Romans were familiar with the secrets of producing a fine ham; they knew that the low humidity, gentle breeze and the climate near the Northern Italian Alps was ideal for meat preservation. Even before them, the Etruscans believed these conditions to be so perfect that they actually improved the quality of the meat itself.

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But it was actually the Gauls who refined the process and it is their legacy that continues today in the traditional processes of producing a prosciutto crudo, a fine delicacy that is held in high regard by the Italian people. To this day, very little has changed in the process of taking a raw haunch and turning it into a delicious ham.

The air-dried hindquarters of a pig have been treasured since ancient times, with the Italian word for ham, prosciutto, deriving from the Latin perexsuctus, which means ‘deprived of liquid’; however, some experts say the word comes from the Italian verb prosciugare (to drain).

For years connoisseurs of good food have always considered ham to be the best part of the pig and debates still remain unresolved about which of Italy’s two most famous hams, Prosciutto di Parma (Parma ham) and Prosciutto di San Daniele, is the best. Both of these famous hams are registered DOP Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin) products and have had this protected status for many years; to retain this accolade, they must continue to meet stringent standards and must be produced within a strict geographic area dictated solely by the European Union.

Prosciutto di Parma

To qualify to become a Parma ham, the hind thigh must come from a nine-month old pig bred in one of the eleven EU-stipulated regions and weighing no less than 150kg. The pig must have been fed a carefully regulated diet of cereal, grain and, importantly, whey that has been produced during the production of Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese.

The legs are trimmed and marked with a certification of authenticity before being sent to one of the traditional curing houses that centre around Langhirano, in the Parma region.

Salt is the only ingredient used during the curing of Parma ham and the use of any chemicals is forbidden. After the first salting, the ham is stored inside a chilling chamber with an 80% humidity and hung for 7 days; following this, the ham receives a second salting and then is hung in a drying chamber where it loses around 4 percent of its weight.

Eighteen days later, the ham ‘rests’ at 75% humidity in a cold room for a further 70 days before being washed to remove the salt and then hung in vast rooms on specially manufactured wooden frames called scalere. After a further three months of being subjected to aromatic natural breezes, the hams are slathered with sugna, a mixture of lard, salt and pepper to prevent drying too rapidly, and, after a seven-month period, the ham is tested with a porous needle carved from the leg bone of a horse to determine its maturity. Once a twelve-month period has elapsed and the ham has reduced its weight by a third, it is then eligible to receive its Ducal Crown stamp of authenticity.

Prosciutto di San Daniele

This premium ham has been produced for centuries in San Daniele and Sauris in Friuli-Venezia Giulia’s northern-eastern region around Udine. The salty, sweet ham differs from Parma ham, which only uses the thigh, by using the whole leg including the trotter.

The small black pigs that are fed a diet high in acorns, which experts say gives it its unique flavor, are specially reared in San Daniele to produce short plump hindquarters rather than wide, fat ones.

The process of curing is similar to that of Parma ham, but less salt is used to produce a redder, sweeter tasting ham, which, according to some prosciutto aficionados, when acquainted with the higher altitude and drier air, produces a superior quality product to the Parma ham. But in truth it really is all down to individual taste.

Every Italian region produces its own prosciutto, and whether you’re eating a salty Tuscan, prosciutto toscano, or a non-salty Umbrian, prosciutto di Norcia, you can guarantee that the quality and flavour will have been well worth taking time to produce.

 

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