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.

Appassionata’s Dawn talks transitional interior design for autumn

The clocks are going back, there’s a cooler breeze in the air and I’m beginning to dream of cosy evenings in with the family by a log fire. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you some of my favourite autumnal design tips to take you from summer to autumn with sophistication, style and ease.

As the designer of all the properties in the Appassionata portfolio, I take inspiration from everything I see and experience in this beautiful region throughout the year. From the sun-soaked beach during summer, to the glistening snow-topped mountains in the winter, everything influences my design direction. And, as we proudly welcome our latest property to market, the 12th century Il Riposo building, my attention is turning to seasonal interiors and how I can bring a feeling of welcoming warmth to our owner’s homes.

Here, I’ve handpicked some of my favourite transitional pieces to show you how to capture autumnal Italian ambience. So, pour yourself a cappuccino, snuggle down under a quilted throw and allow us to introduce you to the luxurious look of our latest property in Le Marche

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The first piece I adore is the restored gold leaf painted antique bed that sits in one of the master bedrooms, down the sweeping staircase to the ground floor. Alongside old brick vaults and a period-inspired roll top bath, the antique king sized bed is a scene stealing feature which combines an opulent gilded trim with authentic upholstery. Embracing one of my personal top autumnal trends, warm metallic tones, this bed is the perfect piece for a cosy and inviting space.

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Another favourite, and a lovely nature-inspired piece for autumn, is the handmade light fitting in the stairway at Il Riposo. Featuring an elegant vine and leaf design in antique gold, this wall-light strikes the perfect balance between art and accessory. Combining a practical item with a dress piece, this is guaranteed to create a homely atmosphere at night, and a stylish focal point during the day.

Finally, I love the trend for natural wood within the home, especially during the colder months. To introduce this more rustic trend in a luxurious way, I’ve combined aged wood with intricate hand carved patterns. Adorning mirrors and artwork throughout the rooms at Il Riposo, these frames are painted in muted greys, creams and gold tones. I selected these hues as they’re not only perfect for autumn, but also light enough to ensure the grain and carvings can still be clearly seen for an antique finish.

Whenever we welcome a new property to market, I spend a lot of time sourcing the perfect designs and working with local artisans in the region to ensure a high end, yet characterful finish. Now complete, we can’t wait to welcome the owners to Il Riposo – and if you’d like to see even more of our interior design ideas, you can watch our brand new Il Riposo video tour here.

 

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.

Raphael La Muta is back in Urbino

Raphael La Muta portrait is back home in Urbino. The Portrait of a young woman, normally known as La Muta, has been recently restored by Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence after a trip to Japan (a Japanese tv network financed part of the restoration).

Raphael La Muta back in UrbinoIt will be displayed in the Ducal Palace Sala dei Banchetti until May 5th to celebrate her return and then will go back to the Duchess’ apartments where it belongs. During the restoration the painting was analysed through x rays and other methods and the attribution to Raphael is now 100% reliable.

Italian ‘black diamond’ discovery marks Le Marche out as foodie paradise!

12th March 2015 will always be a date to remember for the Cavanagh-Hobbs family. Henceforth it will forever be known as ‘Truffle Day’ or more precisely ‘Giorno del Tartufo’, for it was the day they first discovered this rare ‘black diamond’ beneath their land in Montefiore dell ‘Aso, Italy.

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Having moved to the breathtaking region of Le Marche, similarly beauty-blessed neighbour of Tuscany, from the UK eight years ago to found fractional ownership company Appassionata, Michael Hobbs and his wife Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs wanted to truly immerse themselves in Italian life. Not content with simply renovating stunning rustic and urban properties, the family also purchased a ‘tartufaia’ or truffle plantation in 2010, a site of 7 acres that had had 1,240 trees inoculated with the Tuber Melanosporum fungus – or the Perigord Black Truffle.

Yet, as is the case with all truffle plantations, the Cavanagh-Hobbs family were in for a long wait. Notoriously difficult to farm and calling for a great deal of time and patience, truffles take between seven and twelve years to emerge, if they do at all, hence their status as a culinary delicacy, expensive to produce and purchase. Yet, having periodically searched the land with locally trained dogs over the years, it seems that this was the year the family would stumble upon their very own ‘black gold’.

Michael Hobbs, Founder of luxury property company Appassionata, explains more about their exciting discovery,

“The Appassionata Tartufaia is a magical place, generating an aura and energy that is hard to quantify, it makes you tingle. I have always felt that there was activity underground and the developing brules (burnt brown circles) that formed around the trees were an indication of mycorrhizal activity. We have been working hard while waiting for the truffles to appear and occasionally checked for truffles but it was during our last walk of this season that we found our first ever truffles.

“We didn’t have high expectations of finding them and were really just going through the motions but after 10 minutes of the dogs going from tree to tree, the young dog Balou got excited and started digging at the base of one of the trees near to the fence line. The handler pulled her back to inspect and carefully dug around the disturbed soil and hey presto we had found our very first truffle!”

Like all treasure-troves, the tartufaia, or truffle plantation, soon began to spill forth its jewels, as more and more truffles of varying shapes and sizes were literally unearthed from the dusty soil beneath. With the largest a behemoth weighing some 79g, the joy on the family’s faces could not be hidden as all their hard work was seen to pay off – at long last! With an eventual haul of 370g of black truffles in one small area, covering half a dozen trees, the prospects for the future of the site looks very bright indeed.

Yet March 2015 has not only been a landmark truffle time for this Le Marche family, their discovery also times perfectly with uncovering of the very first cultivated truffle on British soil. Just two days before the Montefiore discovery, Paul Thomas unearthed the start of a batch of the UK’s first ever commercially-produced truffles, in Leicestershire, paving the way for a new, growing industry that could prove highly lucrative. In turn, this could also prove true for the Cavanagh-Hobbs family who plan to develop their truffle sideline by selling both the raw article and investigating the creation of a range of authentic truffle-infused products, potentially utilising locally-produced olive oil and cheeses.

Michael Hobbs explains how he feels their recent discovery helps highlight the region’s gastronomic delights,

“Le Marche really is a foodie’s paradise. Freshly-produced oil from the finest olives ripened under seemingly endless sunny skies, wild game and smoky sausage, fresh seafood, not to mention the wonderful local wines that grace the region, are all part of the distinctive cucina tipica that puts Le Marche on the map and is drawing more and more attention worldwide. At Appassionata we are proud to be a part of this ongoing tradition, producing our very own olive oil, wine, lavender crop – and now truffles too!”

And as the Cavanagh-Hobbs family celebrated by eating the first truffle found, carefully slicing it over a frittata alongside some local salami and 30-month old parmigiana, rounding it off with their very own Marche Rosso, a 2013 Montepulciano, they looked forward to welcoming new owners of their latest project Casa Tre Archi to the gastronomic wonders of the region, including their newly treasured truffles!

Casa Tre Archi from Appassionata is a beautifully unique property of three bedrooms and three bathrooms, built into the ancient town walls of Le Marche’s Petritoli. Featuring a turret wall as part of the lounge, the townhouse also boasts a stunning roof terrace with standout views across the rolling hills of Le Marche and has been renovated to the very highest of standards.

A luxurious yet homely property, Casa Tre Archi enjoys sea views, beamed ceilings and traditional terracotta-tiled floors and is close to a range of local shops and restaurants and a short drive from beautiful sandy beaches. The property is offered as part of a fractional ownership scheme and shares of 1/10th of the property providing five weeks’ exclusive use annually, are available from £65,000.

For more information, contact Appassionata on +39 33154 13225 or visit www.appassionata.com

Interview: How One Italian Tourism Board Banks on Local Products and Food

Emilia-Romagna is a region of northern Italy, just above Le Marche and home to some of the country’s most iconic products including Ferrari cars, Ducati motorcycles, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and balsamic vinegar from Modena.

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Among tourists, however, the region often takes a back seat to the country’s most well-known destinations including Rome, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast. Emilia-Romagna hosted just over 9 million visitors in 2013, of which 28 percent came from abroad, according to the Italian National Statistical Institute. Emilia-Romagna is the sixth most visited region in Italy.

In a country that’s not known for its stellar tourism marketing efforts, the Emilia-Romagna Region Tourist Board is working hard to change this by raising awareness of its ancient history, culinary significance and warm culture through digital media. It runs contests, hands its Instagram account over to locals, and hosts as many bloggers and digital journalists as possible.

Still, tying the world-renowned products with the experiences available in the region is a balance that the tourism board works at daily.

Skift recently spoke with the organization’s CEO Emanuele Burioni and his team about the region’s challenges to raising its profile, its successful formula for working with media, and how it plans to overcome a shrinking budget with partnerships.

Skift: Your destination has many attractions including the world’s oldest university, renaissance cities, and beach resorts. However, most travelers thinking about a trip to Italy focus on Naples, Rome, or Tuscany. How do you raise awareness of the region and get people to Emilia-Romagna?

Emanuele Burioni: There are products made in Emilia-Romagna that are better known than the region, which we refer to as “fast cars and slow foods.” The main products are Ferrari, Ducati, and Lamborghini. There’s also Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma. Our daily challenge is connecting these great products to the overall image of the region.

Skift: Are you telling tourists to come to this region because of the products?

Burioni: We’d say come to this region because it offers experiences and products that can’t be found elsewhere.

This region kind of invented mass tourism in Italy. The middle class didn’t traditionally have summer holidays, but after the second world war, the coast started creating rooms for people to come on holiday. We went from a few thousand people in the winter to millions coming from northern Italy and Germany in the summer.

We are now at the point where we are trying to reinvent mass tourism because our previous offering is not that appealing any more. With the same amount of money, travelers can go to Seychelles or the United States.

We recently came out with a brand new strategy based on the Via Emilia, an ancient Roman pathway that led from Rimini to Milan. It is recognized, at least in Europe, as part of our heritage and we’re trying to tie our products and marketing campaigns to it. We are trying to convey the idea that tourists aren’t buying Emilia-Romagna but are buying the history and experiences of the Via Emilia, which comes with fast cars and slow foods that they can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Skift: Emilia-Romagna has really invested in digital media and tested a variety of different campaigns. Can you tell us more about those more marketing strategies and which have been the most successful?

Burioni: We are working hard on the digital side of our marketing presence, especially with social media. We try to connect online digital campaigns with offline campaigns. The key word here is handcrafted hospitality, which ties back to the cultural identity of the region. One of our major successes has been the Blogville project. We tried to open the format of traditional blogger tours towards a more wiki-like format. We don’t provide bloggers or journalists with pre-defined programs or places to go. We just provide them with an apartment and allow them to choose what to do. The resulting freedom allows our guests to tell stories that the public, and even ourselves, would not expect.

We have offered the apartment for two years and will run it for a third year with the region of Lombardy. We have so far hosted some 130 bloggers from five continents. It’s been a great success in terms of photos and stories as well as the originality of the stories created. Giving people complete freedom has proved very successful for us.

On social media, we are also trying to get people from the region involved by engaging individuals, businesses and institutions. For example, we asked locals to rewrite Wikipedia entries about food and history in our region. They were proud to be a part of it and we got better Wikipedia pages as a result. We also outsource our Instagram account to individual photographers from the community to create a collective take on Emilia-Romagna.

Skift: Are you able to measure what the impact of these blogger trips, whether it’s increased awareness, website visits or actual visits?

Burioni: We’re at that very point right now. Frankly, we don’t have standard measures yet, however, businesses report travelers calling from China or Brazil after someone from their country visited. For example, a center that teaches cooking classes hosted a blogger from Shanghai and then Chinese citizens called asking for the same experience. We are getting to the point where stakeholders themselves want to learn more about this kind of exposure. We have hints that it’s working.

Skift: The region is so rich in local, and world-recognized, cuisine. What role does food play in attracting tourists?

Burioni: It is a core part of our branding strategy. There are plenty of certified products and renowned chefs here, but food is more of a way of living for locals. People love to spend time not just preparing and eating food but sitting at the table together.

This idea of relaxed conviviality is part of our identity and that’s precisely what we try to convey. That’s the more interesting, difficult to explain, part of social media marketing. We are trying to handcraft hospitality the same way that our food is handcrafted, to customize the experience for each guests.

Imagine an old woman in a small kitchen making pasta for her guests: She wants to provide every guest with what he or she wants. We are trying to bring that spirit to digital media. We have much smaller numbers than other organizations on social media but we try to treat every conversation we have on social media as if it’s the only conversation we’re having with a visitor.

Skift: How do you make sure that people know these great products are tied to the region?

Burioni: We are trying to customize the food tourism experiences more and more with time. For example, we bring Instagrammers and video producers to experience a Sunday lunch with a local family. A local will host them, bring them to shop for food products, cook with them and share Sunday lunch. The whole experience is then broadcast via social media. It’s an experience that we provide for normal tourists too. In more and more cities around the region, young cooks are opening the doors to their homes to teach visitors how to cook. The personalization of the food experience is the stronger part of strategy in this respect.

Skift: How has social media become more of a priority in recent years?

Burioni: Social media is becoming more and more relevant to our overall strategy, because it is the platform through which we talk with visitors, reach a broader audience and gain insights on what visitors enjoy most about the region. There are only four out of 50 people in the organization working on social media and we are still in our infancy in terms of measuring outcomes. I ask that we increase overall awareness of the brand and understand that the outcome is more lateral at this point.

What is happening now is that we are becoming a kind of cultural hub when it comes to digital culture. We provide our public, and sometimes our private, stakeholders with insights about digital culture and the relevance of social media. The main goal, in the short term, is not about increasing room occupancy. We can’t measure that yet. What I can say for sure is that we are providing a platform for our stakeholders to express themselves.

Skift: All destinations struggle with funding. Do you see this changing in the next 5 to ten years as the economic significance of tourism is better realized?

Burioni: In this country, funding for any single public activity is shrinking and it’s likely that public money for tourism in this regional and Italy as a whole is going to shrink more in the next 5 to ten years. For example, we went from a budget of 14 million euros for 2014 to 10 million euros for 2015.

Our effort therefore is to work even more closely with the major companies that are established in our territory to increase awareness of the products and our region worldwide. We are going to more often partner with other destinations in Italy to better promote and sell the country around the globe.

Skift: What about relationships within the travel industry? Will you be working more or less closely with other sectors?

Burioni: I definitely expect more collaboration. I see our own road changing in a major way. Our role is shifting from being a content provider to being an attention provider for people. In the past, travelers would come to us for information and the basics of the destination or experience. What we are doing now is becoming a platform where all stakeholders, locals and visitors can express themselves and share information.

For example, there is a small neighborhood in our region called Brisighella that is in the running to be named the nicest neighborhood in Italy. Through digital media, we are trying to engage the whole local community to vote for this town. It’s not about the vote per se. It’s about the shifting role of our organization, which is to direct public attention towards the needs of the destination or the needs of our guests.

Whenever someone asks us something about an attraction or site, we outsource the question to our overall community on Facebook and Twitter and ask them to answer the question.

Skift is publishing a series of interviews with CEOs of destination marketing organizations where we discuss the future of their organizations and the evolving strategies for attracting visitors.