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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Major Modigliani Exhibit on View in Pisa

A recently opened exhibition in Pisa highlights the artistic career of a major modern painter, one that perfectly embodies the myth of the troubled and unconvential artist living an intense and dissolute life: Amedeo Modigliani.

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The exhibit features a selection of works on loan from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as masterpieces from public and private collections in Italy and abroad. Modigliani was mainly known for portraits and nudes with elongated faces and figures.

The display of works is meant to recreate the cultural atmosphere of the Belle Epoque, when Modigliani developed his talents, and to trace the artistic evolution of the painter, from his debut years in Livorno to his move to Paris, where he spent most of his life.

The exhibition will also display the works of artists who shared with Modigliani their time and adventures in Montparnasse, including Chaim Soutine, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Fernand Léger.

A section of the exhibition is devoted to a selection of sculptures by Modigliani and other contemporary sculptors, such as Constantin Brancusi.

“Amedeo Modigliani” is on view at Palazzo Blu in Pisa until February 15, 2015 and well worth visiting, even from Le Marche.

Italian: The World’s Sexiest Accent?

Italian is the world’s sexiest accent, according to a poll conducted by CNN.

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There are an estimated 7,000 languages on earth; CNN came up with 13 which “sound sexiest to native-English speakers” by using, admittedly, an unscientific method: asking around the office. They then compiled a list where Italian ranked first, before French and Spanish, second and third respectively.

This is why Italian is the sexiest, as described by CNN:

“Raw, unfiltered, the Italian accent is a vowelgasm that reflects the spectrum of Italic experience: the fire of its bellicose beginnings … the romance of the Renaissance … the dysfunction of anything resembling a government since Caesar.

Insatiable, predatory and possessive, this is sex as a second language.

Sounds like: A Ferrari saxophone.”

From connoisseurs to family groups, Italy calls out to travellers from across the globe

From connoisseurs to family groups, Italy calls out to travellers from across the globe

“Italy has everything – stunning beaches, snow-capped mountain ranges for winter sports, world-class cuisine that is both healthy and delicious, a culture steeped in art and intellectual pursuits, a sun-drenched climate… It really is one of the most attractive countries I can think of when it comes to a holiday destination.”

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So speaks Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs of luxury holiday home company Appassionata, based in Italy’s Le Marche region. And Dawn is certainly not alone in her view. The ENIT Italia survey has shown that tourist numbers were well up over the summer 2013 season, with individual tour operators reporting increases of as much as 40%.

Without question, Italy remains a top global holiday destination. From Rome’s ancient architecture, to the shopping streets of Milan, to the rural splendour, quaint medieval towns and beautiful beaches of Le Marche, Italy has such diversity that it never fails to charm and delight those who venture within its borders.

Food and wine are high up on the list of Italy’s attractions, with Virtuoso’s eighth annual Travel Dreams Survey recently identifying family pasta making lessons as one of the dream holidays for connoisseur travellers, who made up 21% of the survey’s respondents. Deb Gale, owner of a 1/10th share of Appassionata’s stunning fractional ownership property Casa Leopardi, nestled snuggling between the sparkling sea and the misty mountains, explains,

“You cannot help but love the food, the wine, the restaurants and the markets but images of our daughters and a recent fresh pasta making lesson in our farmhouse kitchen at Casa Leopardi lingers even longer.

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Those looking for town life will no doubt be drawn to Appassionata’s latest offering: the three bedroom/three bathroom Casa Tre Archi, in the picturesque and unspoiled town of Petritoli. The townhouse enjoys outside space on three levels, including a generous roof terrace with room for owners to dine at a leisurely pace as the sun lowers over the rolling countryside. Family-friendly, Blue Flag beaches await those who care to venture out, while holidaymakers who prefer to relax in town can stroll through Petritoli’s pretty piazzas.

With shares available from just £65,000, entitling owners to five weeks’ usage per year, Casa Tre Archi provides the perfect way for those who want a second home in Italy to buy one without breaking the bank. The fractional ownership model also removes the stress from owning a holiday home overseas. Owners arrive to a house that is clean, well maintained and ready for them to simply drop their bags and begin having fun, while those who own their second home outright usually arrive to an overgrown garden, general maintenance and a list of outstanding minor repairs.

For more information on the benefits of fractional ownership and the joys of Italy as a holiday destination, contact the Appassionata team on 0039 073 465 8775 or visit www.appassionata.com.