Michele Alesiani & his lovely family…
Address and Bookings….
Osteria Pepe Nero
via Castello s.n.
63064 Cupra Marittima, AP, Le Marche, Italy.
Michele Alesiani & his lovely family…
Address and Bookings….
Osteria Pepe Nero
via Castello s.n.
63064 Cupra Marittima, AP, Le Marche, Italy.
Chapter Two – Florence
I gazed around the Piazza and sipped my cappuccino elegantly, copying the glamorous Italians on the next table. Trying not to get the milky froth all around my mouth.
I love to people watch. The tourists racing to keep up with their flag bearing tour guides. The Nonna’s dressed in black, carrying their heavy bags of shopping back home to their families. I listened closely to the sing song melody of the Italian language, exaggerated with arms and hands waving in the air. Everything about the Italians is passionate and dramatic.
I meandered back to the hotel, absorbed in the sounds of the city. The walk should have taken me ten minutes. You guessed it, luckily for me I took another wrong turning!
I stumbled upon a lovely little shop halfway down a narrow street. The window had a wonderful display of tassels, braids and ribbons.
As an interior designer I am always on the lookout for things fabulous and unique. This was an Aladdin’s cave of colour and texture. I bought tassels in every shape, size and colour. Natural greens, blues and siennas with a hint of gold.
Each item was lovingly wrapped in tissue and delicately placed in a posh paper bag. No sign of plastic in this shop!
Shopping in Italy is a very different experience. Most shops are owned and run by family member. They are proud of what they do and love to tell you how many generations have worked there. Their knowledge is extensive, and they take the time it takes. Note to self, allow more time when shopping in Italy!
I floated back to our hotel, clutching my purchases and feeling rather proud of myself, I had found my way back.
My husband, Michael, was happy. The rugby match had gone well, his team had won and he was celebrating with a cold beer in the hotel bar.
He looked suspiciously at my shopping bag. “What have you bought”? I told him,” gorgeous tassels in natural hues………” I received the typical response from a man who thinks shopping is only to purchase essential items, food and drink. “How many tassels do you need, what are they for, how much did they cost”?!!! I quickly changed the subject and asked about our dinner plans for that evening, while visualising one of the tassels threaded through an antique key, hanging from wardrobe I had recently finished painting.
I eat fish, no meat. Michael loves meat and eats fish. He had spoken to the hotel manager earlier and asked his advice on fish restaurants on the outskirts of the city. Away from the touristy eateries and high prices. He knew the perfect place!
We were picked up in a taxi later that evening, it was the first and only time I have travelled in a taxi in Italy. The manager had given the driver directions to the restaurant so we both sat back and enjoyed the drive across Florence. Thirty minutes later we pulled up outside a large wooden door, with no sign, in the heart of an industrial estate. We stepped out of the taxi and looked at each other, both thinking the same thing. This can’t be right. Before we had chance to get back into the taxi, it roared off into the distance.
We rang the doorbell and waited. I was feeling a little nervous. Not about my surroundings, but it was nine o’clock and Michael was hungry, we needed to find food before he turned all hunter gather on me.
The door opened and we cautiously stepped into another world. Before our eyes was a busy, bustling restaurant. A beautiful, yet simple décor. Delicious aromas wafting from the open kitchen blending with the lively voices of sixty plus Italians all talking at once. In the large walled courtyard, huge interconnecting sunshades provided a soft textured ceiling. The lighting was low and atmospheric, with a blend of candles and fairy lights. Each table dressed with a small vase of fresh flowers. Crisp white linen tablecloths draped down to the cool cotto tiled floor.
We were shown to our table, and looked around. There were large families, three generations enjoying a celebration together. Young lovers with eyes only for each other. Young children out with their parents, babies peacefully sleeping in their pushchairs. Children are always made to feel welcome in restaurants in Italy, however posh or expensive. Family is very important and younger members are never excluded. Another plus for the Italian lifestyle.
Our waiter came to take our order. This was going to be tricky. He spoke no English, we spoke no Italian and had left our phrase book back at the hotel!
We shouted “menu” at him and mimed opening a book. Why do people shout in their own language at foreigners, expecting them to understand once the decibels are turned up?
He shook his head “no menooo, you wanta da otta fish o colda fish”. Whita wine o reda wine? Hot fish we both said, white wine we agreed
I glanced across at Michael, he was looking a little concerned. He’s lovely, but he likes to know what’s happening at all times, in the present and the future. I knew he would struggle with the concept of not being able to converse with the waiter, he loves to talk!
He also likes to see a menu, ask questions and check nothing has vinegar on it. He likes to see the wine list and chat about different grapes, countries, regions, years. He especially likes to see prices and mentally calculate how much the whole meal will cost. He likes to feel in control of the situation.
Our waiter disappeared into the kitchen and we sipped our wine, poured from a glass jug. Michael shared his concerns about not knowing what food would arrive and how many courses would be served. I tried to reassure him. “Let’s just relax and enjoy the experience, it will be fun to try new tastes and not know what to expect”. He looked doubtful and took a large swig of wine, it was delicious, he looked happier.
The more courses we ate, the more wine we drank, the more he relaxed. I wish I could give you a detailed description of the food we ate, but I can’t. I can remember the interiors, because I seem to have a photographic memory for those. I think I drank too much wine and the food detail got lost. It’s a little hazy. What I can remember is that every dish was exquisite, fresh and unpretentious. The seafood was scrumptious the pasta cooked to perfection. I think we had seven courses, to be honest I lost count.
I have never seen Michael so relaxed, enjoying the present and not worrying about the future. We had no idea how much this dining experience was going to cost, we didn’t care.
The waiter brought over bottles of grappa, mistra and limoncello, to help with the digestion! The limoncello was divine. Michael was so, so happy, he tried all three, twice.
We swayed over to the bar to pay the bill and hopefully order a taxi. Michael was very pleasantly surprised when he saw the total, half the cost he had toted up in his head. The bar man generously offered him another drink on the house. I began to wonder if I would be able to get him back to the hotel. The taxi arrived and I managed to steer him onto the back seat and close the door.
We were dropped off at the end of a one way street, only a couple of minutes walk from our hotel. We needed a walk! In the distance we could hear opera music, as we walked closer I recognised an aria from La Boheme, one of my favourite operas. We entered the Piazza, and there under the moonlight of a warm summer’s evening were hundreds of people enjoying an open air opera. I looked up to the balconies of the surrounding apartments, each one crowded with local Italians holding a candle and swaying to the music. It was truly magical and that was the exact moment I fell in love in love with Italy.
As published by Georgette Jupe
With the sparkling Adriatic Sea and the Apennine mountains at a comfortable proximity, a hilly and vibrant countryside as far as the eye can see — you have to wonder why more people don’t talk more about the region of Le Marche. Those in the know however are quite aware of Marche’s positive attributes. And there are many. Central Italy has often been a hot place for expats to call home due to its low prices and stunning natural landscapes. It’s the kind of place where people truly find their joie de vivre (joy of life).
My husband and I left Tuscany behind for a night in Le Marche, our destination the hilltop town of Petritoli which sits pretty with high points offering views overlooking the Adriatic Sea. As we drove through the three arches and 15th century turrets, I knew immediately it was going to be a place I would love. The tiny medieval town boasts only four churches, a few restaurants, and a local population of no more than 2,500. Truth be told, I have always had a very positive view of the Marchigianis, a humble and hard-working people who know how worthy their land really is.
Two such people who have certainly figured out this “secret” destination are interior designer Dawn and successful entrepreneur Michael Hobbs, originally from the UK . Since 2004 they have split their time between England and the beautiful town of Petritoli. They first discovered this area in search of a holiday home after a suggestion by Michael’s business partner. Choosing to stay here was an easy one for them to make, with a natural beauty and charm so less besieged by tourism than neighbours like Tuscany. Also, the proximity to local airports was a huge advantage for Michael and Dawn who travel back and forth to the UK frequently. Petritoli makes for an easy 45-minute drive from Ancona or an hour from Pescara.
[Piazza in Fermo, Le Marche]
They bought their first property around 2005 and started renovations, planning to then sell the property outright but then changed their minds. “This is when the wheels started turning regarding starting our company offering fractional ownership,” Michael said. They founded Appassionata in 2007 with the idea to allow people part ownership of a property that Michael and Dawn completely renovate and furnish. After purchasing and renovating a few more places, they took their time setting up the business “we didn’t want to rush things, we wanted to do this right.” In fact, each property was chosen under careful consideration, for its proximity to the sea and airports, and also its potential after the renovations.
Each owner has a 1/10th ownership in the property which they have total control over and are allotted five exclusive weeks a year to use. The cost is roughly 90,000 pounds to 195,000 depending on the size of the property. With the favourable dollar to pound currency rate at the moment, this is really the ideal time for a property investments for those from the USA. Dawn and Michael’s properties sell off quick, momentarily there are only 9 of 10 shares left in the latest available property “Il Riposo”. None of the places are “cookie cutter,” each comes with its very own personality. Currently owners include people from Australia, South America, England, American and China.
[Dawn and Grandson Lucas]
After checking in with Michael and Dawn, they showed us to an exquisitely designed one-bedroom apartment underneath their own home in the 15th century Palazzo Scarsini in Petritoli. This space is mainly used for discovery visits from potential buyers– but they also rent this apartment on Airbnb, a steal at €125 per night considering I have rarely seen five star hotels this impeccable. Like every other of the properties that they have handled, it has been completely designed by Dawn. She handpicks everything from the liberty tiles adorning the floors and kitchen to each exquisite piece of furniture, a bowl of fruit and welcome bottle of wine finished the welcome.
[kitchen area of their beautiful apartment]
Finding a retreat in beautiful Patrignone
Their latest property “Il Riposo” a 12th century renovated townhouse is an absolute dream — true to its name which in Italian signifies “the retreat.” Located in the nearby town of Patrignone in the “Terre di Bonfini,” it was known locally as a 12th century artists’ colony founded by the Bonfini family whose names pepper each street corner. First in tribute to the painters Martino and Giacomo Bonfini and later the historian of King Mattia Corvino’s Hungarian court, Antonio Bonfini.
For me, Patrignone, facing east of the Adriatic sea signifies a quiet, picture-perfect example of a small borgo in Italy – think narrow cobblestoned streets which beautifully pave the way towards Il Riposo. It is an area also home to incredible views while the countryside beyond is dotted below with charming countryside villages. Year-around the town boasts only 150 residents, thus making this “retreat” a true reality for those looking to escape the crowds.
Patrignone is a frazione of Montalto delle Marche, the village of Montalto close by, just a few kilometers away and home to a few restaurants, shops, and a bank. Michael informed me of its illustrious past “What put this place on the map was Pope Sisto V” who was elected Pope in 1585, “he made Montalto a Papal State during his reign.”
With all of this in mind who wouldn’t want to call Il Riposo home? This three-floor light-and-airy luxury property is the perfect space for larger groups looking for a true “country and town” atmosphere with designer details. Dawns well-searched for acquisitions for the property from local artisans (like large terra cotta pots) have led to many of Appassionata’s buyers ordering items direct from these Italian small suppliers for their other homes.
[Kitchen – Il Riposo]
Inside you’ll find four spacious double bedrooms, three bathrooms, all in a luxurious 210 square meter (2269 sq. feet) space with plenty of open-plan space. All the better for enjoying the extraordinary views from the huge, airy kitchen. The cozy living room and dining space with its light colours, original wooden beams and custom, colourful furniture looked the perfect place to entertain guests, who like you, will thoroughly enjoy what is truly a slice of Italian paradise.
[Staircase of Il Riposo]
Walking outside, I was surprised to find the walled terraced garden even boasts a pool, albeit discreet for those who want their privacy. More importantly to note, Dawn and Michael hire local artisans and builders, which has gained them trust locally as respected business people that pay their bills on time – a not too frequent occurrence in Italy. “I often go to our carpenter and suggest an idea that he thinks is totally crazy,” Dawn laughs as she shows me around, “but eventually he always surprises me and himself too by creating exactly the one-of-a-kind item that previously only existed in my mind.”
[Outdoor pool of Il Riposo]
Dawn spends hours in her car driving around to look for the next great furniture piece or antique chandelier, everything is kept in a storage space before it finds its home in an Appassionata property. Their daughter India and her husband Charlie live nearby and help out with the business, owners with special requests can turn to them for customised requests.
You might be asking yourself, why not just buy a house outright instead of a fractional ownership? As was quoted in The Times “Owners might be able to afford a holiday home outright but don’t see the point if they’re only going to use it for a limited number of weeks each year. They like the fact that the property is managed and used all year around and they don’t have to worry about it when they’re not there.”
Which is a great point.
After all, imagine you don’t speak the Italian language (yet) nor have the will to weave yourself through endless Italian bureaucracy. Buying a fractional ownership means that essentially all you have to do is show up, everything is taken care for you upon arrival. For those scared to be locked in for life, don’t be. Re-sale is 100% possible, with Appassionata facilitating the deal between the current and new owners.
For Michael, it’s not about the money. In fact, they regularly turn down people who are looking to buy a share as a financial investment. Over coffee he quite rightly pointed out “what you get here in Le Marche is a real lifestyle investment.”
Since the seaside is so close, we decided to have lunch at an airy, beachside restaurant “Il Grecale” in the pretty resort town of Grottammare on Via Cristoforo Colombo. Though it’s January, the sunshine has brought locals out, biking or running along the wide stretch of promenade that runs parallel to the sea. Michael and Dawn know this place well, we order a bevy of seafood dishes, fresh pasta and swapped stories.
[Fresh pasta at Il Grecale]
That evening, tired but happy to come home to pretty Petritoli, we decided to visit a local wine bar suggested by Michael and Dawn, the “Cantina Antisociale,” adjacent to a gas station owned by the owner’s father just outside the town’s ancient walls. Cozy and welcoming, locals gather here amicably for aperitivo or a light dinner, tasty nibbles are brought out with every glass of wine. The young owner Simone is extremely passionate about the business and was more than happy to chat with us about his curated selection of wines. Later that night, we head to Ristorante Re Squarchiò where families were gathered in big groups for Saturday dinner. Though we were still full from lunch and our aperitivo, we dig into delicious fresh pasta and yet another bottle of Passerina wine.
The next morning, we lingered over one last cappuccino (doppio espresso for the hubby) at Bar Tre Archi with Michael and Dawn, who made us feel instantly at home. As I walked back to pick up our luggage, I heard the voices of mass (it was a Sunday) radiating from the steps below to our apartment and a few bellows of a laughter. Apparently, priests around here have a sense of humor. We stood on the steep steps reveling in the peaceful atmosphere, a comforting murmur from the building continued inside and that’s exactly when I realized my Petritoli visit can’t end just here. I have to come back. A reminder about how so many people probably feel who come to Le Marche on holiday, it draws you in as easily as a laughter-filled wine-induced lunch on a Saturday afternoon. Even if it it’s just temporary, it feels like home. Michael and Dawn, we will be back.
Benefits of Buying an Appassionata Property?
Tips for Petritoli
Cantina Antisociale: a local wine bar, perfect for a before-dinner drink. Address: Piazza Costantino Tamanti,
Bar Gelateria Tre Archi. The place for a morning coffee and a chat with locals. I’ve also been informed that they make excellent homemade ice cream. Address: Largo Giacomo Leopardi, 5
Ristorante Re Squarchiò, excellent eatery to sample local seasonal cuisine form Le Marche, they offer a 25€ tasting menu (with wine). Reservations recommended. Address: Via Largo Tre Archi, 4/5.
Interested in checking out Appassionata’s “Il Riposo” in person or to learn more about fractional ownership? Contact Dawn and Michael here for a chance to see your potential next vacation home in Marche
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!
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:
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!
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.
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?
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.
The British have developed a love of food that stretches beyond watching TV programmes.
Jamie started it. Then Mary, Michel Jr, a couple of Hairy Bikers and many more joined the gang, and the next thing we knew, we’d morphed into a nation that likes to cook. The very thought might leave the French spluttering in their soupe à l’oignon, but les rosbifs have developed a love of food that stretches far beyond simply watching TV cookery programmes — it influences how we live and even where we buy our holiday homes.
Once something of a niche affair, the appreciation of good food has become far more democratic and sociable. It’s the way many of us get to know a new place, meet people and feel part of local life when we are abroad. Boutique developments in Europe and beyond have picked up on this desire, giving buyers the chance to engage with the culture and community through cuisine by offering bespoke services such as cookery lessons.
Those who let out their holiday homes are also picking up on the culinary trend. “We’ve seen a big increase in the number of properties that offer some kind of food experience — whether it’s a personal catering service or the chance to cook and eat traditional local cuisine,” says Saskia Welman, PR manager for Holiday Lettings.
Getting to know the neighbours
Nowhere beats Italy for the convivial, joyful, hands-on appreciation of gastronomy and the ability to make even the simplest ingredients taste magical. Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, founder of Appassionata — an Italian property company that specialises in boutique restoration projects — explores that love of all things homegrown in her latest project, Casa Tre Archi, in the medieval Marche town of Petritoli.
The three-bedroom townhouse, attached to the town’s ancient turrets, is available on a fractional basis: a £65,000 share gives the owner five weeks’ annual usage (00 39 33154 13225, appassionata.com). There’s no need to jump into the car when you want to eat out, as fine dining Italian-style is all around. “At the excellent local restaurant, the dishes change with the seasons and customers never see a menu,” says Cavanagh-Hobbs, who also organises regular cookery lessons from a five-star hotel chef for the owners of her properties.
Among them is Deborah Gale, 51, who lives in Windsor with her husband and five daughters. She is in no doubt about the appeal of this type of holiday home: “You overlook seascapes, sunflower fields and mountains, but an image that lingers even longer is that of our daughters learning to make fresh pasta in our farmhouse kitchen,” says Gale, a Huffington Post blogger. “We have found a special place to lay down memories.”
You can never re-create that fabulous local dish at home — so why not go straight to the source?
Zoe Dare Hall Published: The Sunday Times 8 February 2015