Meeting people…

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

Please allow me to explain.

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

Casa Tre Archi

Casa Tre Archi

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

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

Osteria Re Sqaurchio, Petritoli

Ristorante Re Squarchio

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

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

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

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

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

Spring clean

Spring clean

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

le marche (1)

Le Marche

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

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

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

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

Casa Tre Archi 2

Casa Tre Archi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ciao,

India

Italy – a great place to do business?

“Italy is a great place to do business.”

A bold claim perhaps, given Italy’s much-documented economic woes over recent years, but for British expat Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs and her family team behind fractional ownership holiday home business Appassionata, one that rings true.

bag

The Appassionata team moved to Italy back in 2004, long before the global economic crisis took hold. In fact, when the economy began to falter, they had already committed to the purchase and redevelopment of a collection of tumbledown farm buildings in rural Le Marche – an area known as a more authentic (and affordable) Tuscany.

Not one to be swayed from her vision of turning the buildings into two luxury holiday homes, nestled in an estate packed with vines and olive trees, Dawn carried on with her usual blend of inspiration and determination. She comments,

“When the global economic crisis began we were part way through renovating Estate Giacomo Leopardi and I knew that there was no turning back. We simply had to make the business work. What surprised me, given the repeated headlines about how much Italy has been struggling, was how quickly buyers wanted to be a part of the Appassionata dream – buyers from here in Italy, as well as from overseas.

“It turns out that with the right idea, a business can survive and even thrive in difficult economic conditions. I am sure that some of our friends thought we were barmy to carry on in the face of such circumstances, but I truly believe that Italy is a great place to do business. It has certainly proven so for Appassionata.”

The first of Appassionata’s luxury retreats, Casa Giacomo, was ready for launch in April 2011. It was divided into ten shares, each of which entitles the owner to five weeks’ use per year. All ten fractions had sold by May 2012. Casa Leopardi, the second house on the estate, was ready for owners to use by June 2012. By November 2013, nine of the ten fractions had been sold. The remaining share was purchased a year later.

Now Appassionata’s third holiday home has been released to the market, with fractions costing from £65,000. Casa Tre Archi is located in the delightful medieval town of Petritoli and boasts three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a generously proportioned roof terrace with breath-taking views to the sea over the rolling countryside. Three fractions have already sold, despite the property only being ready for use in the autumn.

With business confidence on the up (it reached 96.0 in October 2014, ending a four month decline, according to figures from ISAE/ISTAT), it will be interesting to see how quickly the remaining seven fractions of Casa Tre Archi are snapped up. It may be too early to speak of a full recovery so far as the Italian economy is concerned, but positive indicators are in place and the Consumer Price Index has reported a growth of 0.1% in prices in October, which is a good turnaround from the September figure of -0.4%. The year on year figure has also risen to 0.1%.

Further weight is added to the argument of Italy’s being a welcoming business environment by Appassionata’s other venture, Appassionata Boutique. A designer handbag line launched by Dawn and created in partnership with a local artisan who has worked for almost all of Italy’s big fashion houses, Appassionata Boutique has rapidly become a favourite of those who love high-end bags, both in Italy and beyond its borders.

“Italy has certainly been through some tough times,” concludes Dawn, “but with the right approach and the right idea it has been possible for both Appassionata and Appassionata Boutique to grow healthy businesses here. If we can achieve this level of success during the hard times, I can’t wait to see what the good times bring!”

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

Italy’s crowning glory: Hilltop towns prove a hit with visitors from around the globe

Italy has been crowned the favourite country for the second year running by Conde Nast Traveller readers. Everything from its beaches to its shopping has impressed visitors, with food and culture receiving particularly high ratings.

Panoramica_di_Petritoli

World-class cities like Rome and Milan are a delight to visit, but those wishing to look a little deeper into the history of this fascinating country need to head out into the countryside, where ancient hilltop towns provide glimpses of a past steeped in rich tradition.

Italy’s iconic hilltop towns were built for defensive purposes. Settlers could sit upon the hilltop and see anyone who approached with enough warning to ready their town’s defences. Early hilltop towns were built with stone and wood, until the Middle Ages brought thick stone walls, watchtowers and sturdy gates into the equation. The Renaissance then added churches packed with works of art to even the most remote of hilltop towns, creating a wonderful voyage of discovery for future generations.

Italy’s ancient hilltop towns remain of interest to this day. Tourists can’t get enough of them, as Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, owner of fractional ownership company Appassionata and hilltop town connoisseur, observes,

“Hilltop towns have an incredible charm that draws tourists to them and captures their hearts and imaginations when they visit. There is something about the thick stone walls, cobbled narrow streets and ancient architecture that brings the past to life, giving visitors a sense of days gone by that no museum can quite match.”

It is in the medieval hilltop town of Petritoli in Le Marche that Appassionata has developed its latest luxury urban factional ownership holiday home, Casa Tre Archi. In fact, the town’s ancient defences actually form part of the house, with the curved watchtower wall creating a delightful feature in the living room and roof terrace. The house is named after the three arches, which provide entry into Petritoli and from which it was most heavily guarded in years gone by.

With the need for armed defence thankfully now ancient history, Petritoli’s arches are open and welcoming to visitors from around the world, as more and more people discover the delights of hilltop living. Casa Tre Archi’s prime position affords owners views of the surrounding Le Marche countryside from the property’s generously proportioned roof terrace, while three bedrooms and three bathrooms provide room for the whole family. Fractions are available from £65,000 for five weeks’ exclusive usage per year.

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.