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.

Celebrating Tourism Day by shining the light on our stunning new Il Riposo property

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“One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.”  — Edith Wharton

They say thappassionata-italian-property-il-riposo-bedroomere’s no greater thing to broaden the mind than travel, and with Tourism Day just around the corner, which celebrates the broad vistas and cultures that the people of the world offer, here at Appassionata we’re celebrating that real slice of the Italian life – and shining the light on our stunning new property Il Riposo ‘The Retreat’.

Adding to our bespoke property portfolio, Il Riposo is our fourth development and dates back to the 12th century. With a private swimming pool and terraced garden, as well as 2260 sq ft (210m2) of living space – this property is a stunning traditional town house, and perfect for those travellers who love to be in the heart of a community.

appassionata-italian-property-il-riposo-staircaseIl Riposo has four double bedrooms and three bathrooms over three floors, with the ground floor a stunning sanctuary, with exposed brickwork features, and a freestanding roll-top bath to make the perfect master suite.

A truly idealistic setting in the Ascoli Piceno province of Le Marche too, Il Riposo is situated in the heart of a beautiful medieval hamlet, and offers the perfect balance of serenity for an annual escape, and provides the perfect base to explore some of our best blue flag beaches or for the more adventurous among us, the Sibillini mountains.

So, thoughIL Riposo External Photo 26 the sun is setting on summer, if Tourism Day inspires you to sit back and add to your dream destination wish list, we say make Le Marche top! Look to experience the hidden gem of Italy and if you’re feeling really adventurous, then why not get yourself a step closer to making that dream a reality and book your Appassionata discovery visit here.

 

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.

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.

7 things I’ve learned from 7 years in Italy

Leaving behind the country in which you were born in search of unknown adventures overseas isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain combination of courage, vision and perhaps a dash of foolishness to abandon everything familiar and jump in to a new world feet first.

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Seven years ago, Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, founder of fractional ownership company Appassionata, did just that. With numerous family members in tow she left the UK for the depths of rural Italy, settling in the stunning Le Marche region to start a new venture and a new life. Now, seven years later and following the hugely successful launch of the company’s latest luxury holiday home, Casa Tre Archi, Dawn shares her insights into what she did right, what she would do differently and why every family should produce their own wine!

7 things I’ve learned from 7 years in Italy

1. Sign language is your friend

I began learning Italian as soon as I knew we were going to move here, but my language skills were still awful when I arrived. However, my stuttering attempts were well received by the welcoming locals and with that and an extensive range of gestures I managed to befriend local artisans and antique sellers tucked away in tiny villages. These new acquaintances enabled me to design the interiors of the Appassionata properties with a signature blend of antique pieces and bespoke Italian items.

2. Embrace everything

One of the things the family and I definitely got right was our open approach. We came to Italy willing to embrace and absorb everything, from trying unusual local delicacies to soaking up the culture. It’s a spirit that we maintain to this day and is part of the reason that we manage to pour so much of our love of Italy into each property that we renovate.

3. Beware bureaucracy!

If there was one thing that I would do differently if I had to move to Italy again it would be to meditate until I learned the art of patience before I arrived! Paperwork here is a long, slow process. A calm approach is essential and planning for delays is an important part of any process that is likely to involve any paperwork that is out of the ordinary. Which, when you are an expat, is just about all paperwork!

4. Make your own wine

Italy has such amazing cuisine and I feel very lucky to have had the chance to explore Le Marche so thoroughly, tasting my way around the seasonal recipes that have been cooked here for generations. What has also inspired me is Italian wine. Our first two fractional ownership properties were nestled in the countryside with a fabulous estate spread around them. Hand-planting hundreds of vines may have been a tiring task, but it was worth it when we finally got to taste the wine made as a result of our hard work. It was a process that involved the whole family and one that the owners of the two properties enjoy being a part of each year.

5. Be open to friendships from all sides

I have felt very welcomed by the locals here in Le Marche and have made some strong friendships since moving here. I’ve also made some great business partnerships and of course some that blur the boundaries between the two. An open, friendly approach is definitely something that goes down well in rural Italy. One individual that I have been lucky enough to meet is Andrea Ribichini, who I have had the pleasure to go into business with through my other venture, Appassionata Boutique.

Taking the time to get to know business contacts is important. Thankfully, with so many wonderful restaurants and some great golf courses in the area, doing this in Le Marche really does seem to be more pleasure than business.

6. See the funny side

Just like any other business venture, renovating properties in Italy has the scope for things to go wrong. Delays can crop up for all manner of reasons, but I’ve learned to see the funny side and be creative in my approach to resolving problems, which has definitely helped.

7. Expect the unexpected

Even after a decade of living here, Italy is still packed full of surprises for me. From unexpectedly rescuing a horse to discovering ancient, hidden frescoes in the palazzo that we are renovating, Italy never fails to charm, surprise and excite. Appassionata’s latest renovation, Casa Tre Archi, is an urban property that allows owners to experience the pleasure of true Italian town life – a world away from the touristy cities with their overpriced chain stores. I can’t wait to see the owners of Casa Tre Archi’s fractions begin to discover the Le Marche that I have come to know and love over my seven years here.

Shares in Casa Tre Archi are available from £65,000 for five weeks’ exclusive use per year. For more information visit www.appassionata.com or contact the Appassionata team on +39 33154 13225

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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Terre di Piero – in the step of the traveling master – Piero della Francesca

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This is an invitation to the voyage. In the steps of Piero Della Francesca: humanist painter, Renaissance intellectual, master of light, symbols and perspective. Across a changing landscape of isolated churches, medieval towns and gentle slopes that Piero admired and immortalized during his pilgrimages in central Italy.

Inside Malatesta’s, Medici’s and Montefeltro’s palaces, which once hosted him and still guard his masterpieces, untouched by the passing of time. An opportunity to discover a breathtaking itinerary made of art, territory, history, culture and traditions.

Don’t hesitate. Let’s go.

Sea and ski – why Italy is the perfect destination this winter

Travellers looking to escape the grey skies of the UK this winter are currently eyeing up southern Europe and, as ever, Italy is one of the top destinations for those looking for some winter sun.

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“Italy is incredibly popular as a winter holiday destination,” comments Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, founder of fractional ownership company Appassionata, who moved to Italy with her family in 2004. “Here in Le Marche there is so much to do during the winter months. The coastline offers some stunning scenery and extends for over 100 miles, making it perfect for walking, hiking and cycling holidays.

“The slopes of the Sibillini Mountains are also extremely popular, with everyone from amateurs to wannabe pros donning their snow boots and grabbing their skis or snowboards. We find that, for many of our owners, the combination of sea and ski provides the ultimate winter holiday experience.”

The owners Dawn refers to are those who have purchased shares in Appassionata’s luxury fractional ownership properties, which include stunning rural houses such as Casa Leopardi, complete with a roaring fire that is perfect for snuggling in front of with a book and a glass of wine from grapes grown on the estate as twilight falls on a winter evening.

Appassionata’s latest fractional ownership property – the three bedrooms, three bathroom Casa Tre Archi – is ideal for those looking to head south for some winter sunshine. The spacious property boasts outdoor space on three levels, allowing owners to maximise their time in the sun. In the medieval hilltop town of Petritoli, the townhouse is perfectly located for local shops and restaurants while also providing easy access to the Sibillini Mountains and the coastal town of Pedaso, which is famous for its fabulous seafood restaurants, large fish market and some of the best mussels in Italy. A one tenth fraction in Casa Tre Archi, which entitles the owner to five weeks’ exclusive use per year, costs from £65,000. Just one share remains available at this special offer price.

Overall, Italy attracted 47.7 million visitors in 2013, according to the World Tourism Organization. While big cities such as Rome and Milan and well-known areas such as Tuscany attracted their fair share of tourists, those seeking out the ‘real Italy’ are increasingly heading to Le Marche and many of them are looking to ski during the winter months.

In fact, for Brits looking to ski overseas, the 2012/13 season marked a turnaround in the market, with a 1% increase year on year in the number of skiers travelling abroad. It is the first time the sector has seen an increase since its 2007/08 peak, according to the Crystal Ski Report, but with countries such as Italy doing all they can to court tourists over the winter months, it seems that the 2013/14 season might be an even better one.

For more information on fractional ownership and the wonders of life in Le Marche, contact the Appassionata team on +39 33154 13225 or visit www.appassionata.com.