Visions for Villa Veneto – Dawn’s Story

The search for our next project came quite out of the blue. We were just contemplating when, where and what type of property we wanted to add to the expanding Appassionata portfolio.

A phone call that afternoon from our local estate agent suggested we should meet up, he had recently come across a few properties that might be of interest to us. Over the years we have become good friends, he knows how fussy I am and patiently drives me around the region and waits for my reaction, sometimes I don’t even get out of the car!

I am like a child on Christmas morning when it comes to looking at property possibilities. I love the thrill and excitement of the search, finding ‘the one’. The place that ticks all the boxes, has the ‘wow’ factor, and most importantly the ‘one’ that just feels right. When I walk through a property for the first time I like to walk alone, in silence, and absorb everything around me.

We viewed a few properties the following morning, a mixture of restored and partially restored farmhouses. All were in great locations, but the quality of the restoration was poor. We didn’t know the engineer or builders who completed the work, which was a concern. Often the extra work involved in redoing shoddy workmanship is very fiddly, time-consuming and expensive on a restored property.

We stopped off for a light lunch and a glass of ‘pick me up’ prosecco to refresh and regroup.

We headed down towards the coast, to Lapedona, a lovely medieval town overlooking the Adriatic Sea. I love Lapedona, famous for its classical music festivals during the summer months and the restaurant Didicus, serving some of Italy’s poshest pizza’s.

We parked up in one of the small Piazza’s in the historic centre of the town, opposite an ancient three-tiered fountain.  We took a short walk along the cobbled streets and I glanced up ahead and fixed my eyes on the beautiful detailed brickwork of a Liberty Villa.  

The house was previously owned by the former wife of Diego della Valle, the creator of the luxury brands Tods, Hogan and Fay, based here in Le Marche. The house hadn’t been lived in for several years.

The agent opened the door and it was love at first sight. The house had been restored by a highly respected building team, engineer and architect we had worked with before.

The heady height of the ceilings and the winter sunlight dancing across the beautiful floor tiles in the hallway, made me smile and nod my head.  Tall elegant doors led into the large, open, living space. The marble fireplace and parquet wooden floor lit up as we threw open the shutters. This definitely had the wow factor and my stomach was performing backflips, the visions were endless, and I had only seen two rooms.

The intricate black wrought iron railings and gentle stone steps lead up to the kitchen, added to the overall elegance of the space.  The kitchen was quite small and separate from the living space. It’s a standing joke with our building team….I always find a wall or two to knock down somewhere.  Here it was, the wall connecting the kitchen and living area was crying out to be removed. A flowing living, dining and kitchen space, ideal for entertaining, was needed here.

Upstairs, the three bedrooms and two bathrooms were all good sizes, they needed updating, redecorating, a little TLC and some fabulous furnishings.

We opened the French doors leading from the master bedroom onto the first of three terraces.

I made a promise never to become too nonchalant about the views in Le Marche. We are surrounded with the most amazing vistas. This view was stunning, the sea felt so close you could almost reach out and touch it.  Rolling hills dotted with olive trees and the air was divine.

The terrace walls needed repointing, and the floor tiles were grubby with moss and dirt. The drainpipe was hanging off the wall and all the windows and shutters needed a good sand and a few coats of paint. I had a strong vision of the finished space, with large terracotta tubs and vases filled with an assortment of brightly coloured cascading plants. A dining table at one end, with a bbq close at hand and a lovely L shaped sofa with comfy cushions to curl up on with and a good book.

The third bedroom also had its own terrace, overlooking the Piazza. This one also needed some TLC, but an ideal space for a bistro table and chairs and red geraniums. I could imagine our owners sitting here and enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning. A delightful spiral staircase led us up to the rooftop terrace.  I have seen many, many wonderful views in Le Marche, but even I wasn’t prepared for this one. I can think of many words to describe this vantage point, but I could never do it credit. You have to see it to believe it. 360-degree view of mountains, hills and sea whilst standing on a roof terrace reaching into the sky… in a beautiful medieval town.

A private solarium, ideal for soaking up the rays and leaving behind the stress and worry of daily life.  I have never been a fan of the hot tub and this property was so close to the sea, a daily dip in the Adriatic followed by a delicious lunch on the beach would be my choice. But our owners deserve another wow factor and if I could find an elegantly designed spa this would be the ideal place to relax, with a glass of chilled prosecco close at hand.  

We headed back downstairs to the entrance hall. There was a strange, custom built bench sitting to the left of another staircase leading down to another floor. I mentally removed this hideous piece of furniture with it’s 80’s floral fabric seats and replaced it with the beautiful iron railings upstairs. Yes, that would work, and the house would flow more easily.

As we walked downstairs, I was holding my breath and crossing my fingers, for windows and natural light, otherwise, this space wouldn’t work.  I breathed a sigh of relief, this was a great space, with lots of natural light! Another good size bathroom, a great utility room and a spacious corridor leading into two further rooms, unrestored but with lots of possibilities. Another living room, with TV, desk and sofa bed for extra guests? A games room, pool table?  We had recently returned from a family holiday and most evenings we had enjoyed happy hour with a cocktail and a game of pool. A great game for all ages, although it did get rather competitive amongst the male members of the family.

A tall wrought iron gate led off one of the rooms, but it was so dark we couldn’t see anything.  We all turned on our torches and waited for our eyes to adjust. The dim spot lights lit up a long narrow cellar with interesting old brickwork and detailed recesses. This was incredible, another wow factor.The area needed lots of work, bricks replaced, walls repointed and a new floor. A carefully thought out lighting design, to make the most of this special space would be key.

I walked back up to the top of the cellar and noticed the light from the other torches washing up the ancient brickwork.  This could make a wonderful cantina, wine cellar. Each of our owners could have their own section for their wine. We could start off their collection and gift each owner a selection of wines from the boutique vineyards of Le Marche.

I glanced over my shoulder and noticed some large orange cardboard boxes with the Tods logo neatly inscribed. I slowly lifted the lid of each one, hoping to see a beautiful pair of Tods boots in my size, sadly each box was empty….

The agent asked my thoughts on the property, I nonchalantly replied there was an awful lot of work to do and I would need a few days to think about it!

I just couldn’t believe it, what a find. I had always dreamt of finding and restoring a liberty villa and here it was. The perfect size property with amazing outside space in a lovely town, so close to the beach.

The adventure begins, sleepless nights of visions, colours, furnishings and all things fabulous. I put my heart and soul into all our projects, it’s the only way I can work. I restore each property as if it was my own. I love to watch each room evolve and come back to life, carefully choosing each item to compliment the age of the building.  

I hope you will enjoy sharing this unique restoration journey with me over the coming months. The stress and strain, laughter and fun and plenty of wine!

For more information on Le Marche and fractional ownership opportunities with Appassionata’s Italian lifestyle brand go to www.appassionata.com , or contact Dawn directly at dc@appassionata.com

Transforming A Chicken House Into A Chic Apartment

Mmm, this was a sentence I never thought I would write. Life throws us some weird challenges and this was mine!

A year or so after we had completed the restoration of Palazzo Scarsini, our home in Petritoli, we were still scratching our heads as how best to use the space on the lower ground floor.

Our home is a five-floor Palazzo dating from the 14th  century, situated in the historic centre of the town and very conveniently placed for the local bars and restaurants.  

Apart from the pigeons taking up residence on the terrace, the house had been abandoned for many years. We live in the top three floors, surrounded by original frescos and murals, which we uncovered during the restoration.

The lower ground floor is the Appassionata HQ, a large open space with brick archways and vaulted ceilings. Light floods in from the windows at the far end, behind the desks, offering wonderful, far reaching views.  I have to be honest and say the views are very distracting and I can often be found staring out of the window, daydreaming when I should be working. I’m sure I had a few school reports saying the exact same thing.

 The floor below the office was once used to house chickens, salami’s, wine and oil. The brickwork and vaulted ceilings are intricate and detailed, although in desperate need of restoration.  The Belle Arte, the Italian National Heritage, informed us the space would be listed, owing to the age and artisan interest and was probably used as a small chapel in its early days.

We pondered for a few months on how to use this wonderful space wisely. The engineering and building costs came in high but this was a space that deserved to be loved and cherished for another 500 years.

The idea of keeping chickens and collecting fresh eggs daily was very appealing, but the thought of them not being out in the open, roaming free just wasn’t right. I didn’t think they would appreciate the beauty and space either.

Over dinner and drinks, always a good time to make a decision, we decided to create an apartment. A separate entrance leading from the cobbled streets would give a sense of total privacy for guests.

The original water well for the house with its beautiful curved, low, brick wall was a lovely feature but was situated right in the middle of ‘the bedroom’!  I really wanted to keep it, line it with copper and create a circular bath. I mentioned this to our amazing housekeeper, Roberta, who along with her team, keeps all the Appassionata properties in tip-top condition. Roberta rolled her eyes and shook her head.  The thought of cleaning all that copper, she likes everything to gleam, was just too much work. I had to agree, practicality had to come before design. This time.

The sandblasting was amazing, but the mess was horrendous and I had to apologise to all the neighbours for the clouds of dust flying out the doors and windows and settling on their freshly laundered sheets.

I also worried about the lighting in the living space.  The high ceiling was crying out for a Murano chandelier, but I also wanted to highlight the newly cleaned and repointed brickwork.  I phoned Fabrizio, our friendly lighting expert. He advised installing tiny LED strips running behind the edge of each recess. We added a dimmer switch and the effect was wonderful, the walls looked like they had awoken from a long slumber.

After much debate, I decided to carefully remove the circular bricks and well and save them for another project.  This space would make the perfect bedroom with an arched window showcasing the view across the hills.

I chose cream coloured travertine floor tiles to complement the warm brickwork and soft furnishings and lamps gave the space a homely, holiday feel.

I am a huge fan of Venetian plaster and use it in all our Appassionata properties.  I wanted to use a stronger shade in the shower area, lavender. A bold, but gentle colour, soothing and relaxing, with its marble finish and subtle swirls.

I integrated the modern amenities of everyday life, wifi, TV, washing machine/drier etc into this historic 14th-century apartment.

It was a joy to watch this dark, dusty space come alive. To bathe in its light and furnish it with love for others to enjoy in the future.

If you are interested in staying in the Palazzo Scarsini apartment please contact me dc@appassionata.com or visit our website https://www.appassionata.com/properties/luxury-rental/

The Business of Fabulous …… Fractional Ownership

The Business of Fabulous …… Fractional Ownership

 

Fractional Ownership is a growing successful concept, but few people really understand exactly what it means, or the benefits it can give.  It is frequently confused with timeshare, conjuring up a very negative view of being chased down the street in Marbella by an over enthusiastic salesman inviting you to enjoy a liquid lunch and sign on the dotted line.

Fractional Ownership is not Timeshare. It has some similarities, in that it involves a number of people sharing in the use of a single property, but the similarity ends there.

Fractional Ownership was developed to create a more secure and reliable solution for those wanting to share ownership of a luxurious item. Property, aeroplanes and boats are the most popular, where the share of ownership is generally between 1/12th and 1/4.

The key to Fractional Ownership is ‘ownership’; you own a share of the property in perpetuity, with the right to sell at any time.  Timeshare is all about ‘time‘, you have the right to use the property for a short period each year, normally a week, but without ownership in the freehold asset. Timeshare is likely to reduce in value over time. Appassionata have undertaken several re-sales on behalf of owners, achieving an average return of +12% on the total value of shares sold, a real success in what has been a difficult international property market.

“Fractional ownership in Casa Tre Archi was a much more pragmatic approach to owning a home in Italy. The property was meticulously restored and fractional ownership was the solution to all of the expense and hassle of overseas home ownership.” 

Victor & Sandra Jason – Owners

With Fractional Ownership several buyers collectively own a luxury property which is professionally managed and maintained throughout the year. Owners split the annual running costs between them. Financially this makes good sense. On average a holiday home owner only uses their property for 40 days each year, but has to pay for the entire year.

Our owners are all pretty savvy. They often have the resources to buy a property outright, but don’t want the financial burden and stress. They know they haven’t got the free time to use it all year.

They don’t want the headache of paying for the upkeep and maintenance of all year-round ownership. Some have owned holiday homes before and were fed up of having to maintain the house, cut the grass, clean the pool and fire up the central heating before they have had a chance to kick back, crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy ‘being’ in their holiday home.

With Fractional Ownership you arrive and everything is ready for you to start your holiday immediately….. sound perfect?

Appassionata are a delight to deal with and the reason that everything works so incredibly well. Friendly, helpful, professional and most of all passionate about their work.”

Joanne Evans-Webb – Owner.

Fractional Ownership provides a modern solution to owning a holiday home. It’s much better having a group of people share in the cost of ownership and for the house to be fully used throughout the year. It breathes more life into local communities having a property consistently used, adding to the rich culture and diversity of the local area by developing long term relationships with the community. Really getting the chance to explore and experience a beautiful part of the world on a recurring basis.

Fractional Ownership is not for everyone. If you are planning to live somewhere permanently or spend more than 6 months of the year in the same place, there are perhaps better solutions for you. However, if you want a holiday home, or a home where you can experience the local area before deciding on an outright purchase; or want to buy into a more luxurious property than you can afford, Fractional Ownership is an option you should definitely be considering.

It is a given that the legal structure for Fractional Ownership must be robust. Buying into a Fractional Ownership scheme must be easy and straightforward. The legal structure must protect the owners, the property, and provide a simple transparent way for the property to be managed. The Appassionata structure is simple, secure, tried and tested.

With Appassionata you own a 1/10th share of the property which you can sell at any time. The property is owned by a UK company where you are a 10% shareholder. You have exclusive use of the house during your 5 weeks of annual residency.

To experience the quality of our Fractional Ownership properties or to find out more information please get in touch and we can arrange a discovery visit to Le Marche.

“The expense of buying a holiday home outright, along with the annual running costs seemed crazy, when you may only use the house for an average of 40 nights a year. – That is why Appassionata was born!” The Sunday Times

Published by Michael Hobbs, Appassionata Limited