Ascoli Piceno – a city older than Rome and built around the stunning Piazza del Popolo. This famous piazza is known as the ‘Living Room’ of Italy and what a room it is, surrounded by Renaissance and Gothic Palaces.
The elegant marble floors and walls glisten in the sunshine with shades of milk and honey, transporting you to a bygone era.
Getting around this beautiful city is easy, just put one foot in front of the other, although I am still in awe of the architecture and constantly bump into people and objects while gazing upwards! As I wander around the town I feel the history seeping into my soul and try and imagine who has trodden this path so many years before me. In every corner of this city, you will stumble across Roman ruins and noble towers, churches and travertine columns, a cultural heaven.
For those of you who like a little more structure to your day, you can choose to partake in an organised walking tour with a local guide. These vary in time, you’re in Italy after all, but usually last between two and three hours and take in all Ascoli’s architectural gems.
Cafe Meletti & Dustin Hoffman in Ascoli for the filming of Alfredo Alfredo
Tucked away in a corner of the Piazza is the famous Cafe Meletti Bar, named after its founder, Silvio Meletti who first opened its doors to the public in the early 1900’s.
It quickly became the place to be seen, both Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Satre frequented it often.
It has also been featured in many films over the past few years, including ‘Les Dauphins’ and ‘Alfredo, Alfredo’ starring Dustin Hoffman.
I walk into the bar and gaze upwards, admiring the fresco ceiling and Murano chandelier. A circular marble-topped table beckons me, I reach into my bag and switch off my phone. This is an experience that needs no interruptions, I pull up a chair, place my order and gaze across the Piazza, soaking up the atmosphere of this very special place.
For lovers of antiques (that’s definitely me )there is a splendid antique market held in Ascoli Piceno on the third weekend of every month. The market is set up in the town’s splendid medieval centre, including Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Arringa. Selling everything from quality art and chandeliers to rusty old nails and door hinges. It is the perfect opportunity to go browsing for weird and wonderful things with a backdrop of some of the most beautiful architecture and buildings in Italy. This is one of my favourite places to find hidden treasures for our Appassionata homes.
Ascoli Piceno is only a 45-minute drive away from our properties and makes the perfect place for a days outing.
An article written and published in Italy Magazine by Georgette Jupe| September 21, 2018
Have you ever dreamt about owning a vacation property but couldn’t quite justify the cost, or the day-to-day upkeep? Luckily there are solutions that are alternative to renting that can allow you to have a second home in one of Italy’s most unsung regions without all of the red-tape hiccups that can come with investing in a second home abroad.
Appassionata is a luxury and boutique Fractional Ownership business run by Brit Italofiles Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs and husband Michael in the heart of the beautiful and relaxing Le Marche region of Italy, in a place where life sings to a different tune. Where strolling charming cobblestoned streets and spending hours sipping coffee in a piazza are par for the course. Their well-designed properties are also all within close proximity to Le Marche’s mountains and coastline, and to two local airport to make travel to and fro as seamless as possible making la dolce vita much easier to reach.
But it’s one thing for me to tell you that but what about those who chose to change their lives and actually take the plunge in one of these beautiful luxury homes?
Diane and Mark are in their mid-fifties from South Africa, now based in London for the last thirty years. Both of them are successful businesspeople with two older children who are now embarking on their own vibrant careers.
Like many in similar positions, they always expressed an interest for a second, vacation property but had a hard time finding properties that truly fit their needs. Italy was always foremost in their mind, having spent time in Rome, Florence, Venice and Sicily so they decided to embark on a discovery visit with Appassionata without having ever visited Le Marche previously. The idea of fractional ownership was intriguing but naturally before making any large financial decisions, it was best to see the place in person.
Diane and Mark had a few requirements, namely a high standard of property (needed no renovations) with a garden and swimming pool — and in the case of the house they visited, the tennis court, vineyard and views were an added bonus. An important aspect was to find a place that wasn’t overrun with tourism and filled with predominantly locals.
Location-wise it needed to be sufficiently rural to allow for outdoor activities, but within a close distance to local shops for basic necessities. Lastly, it needed to be large enough to accommodate a group of friends and their children and partners. With this in mind it was time to visit the property.
They flew to Rome and drove to Le Marche, a beautiful drive that offered the first taste of what was to come. They settled in the accommodation that Appassionata owner’s Michael and Dawn Hobbs had arranged for them and instantly integrated into local life, visiting local restaurants and cafes before visiting Casa Leopoldi to inspect the property available. In their words “we found the rooms to be impressively decorated and by the end of dinner on the first night we decided to buy the final share of the property.”
Regarding the concept of fractional ownership this proved to be just the ideal situation for Diane and Mark. It enabled them to have all of the benefits of ownership, including a say in how the property was run, without having to deal with the daily management of the property itself. 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. As stated in The Sunday Times “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!”
They knew that any second property would be standing empty most of the year and renting it out to strangers would allow tenants who did not necessarily feel an attachment to the property as they did. The fact that there were only a small number of owners meant that there was a “family” feeling among the other buyers who all shared a common interest in maintaining the quality of the property.
Also attractive was the fact that the weeks set every year are not set in stone. allowing them to visit the area in a range of seasons. Due to the way the system works, if other owners aren’t using their weeks, that opens that time up to anyone who wants to use it.
Mark also sits on the board of the company as one of the owner representatives who meet for board meetings to stay involved with the management company during the year regarding matters of running the property.
I asked him how he typically spends a day in Le Marche to give us an idea of someone’s normal routine. He said “We normally start the day by going on a walk to the village to buy bread from the bakery or down the street to a local farmer for vegetables. If we are feeling particular energetic they swim in the pool or run by the beach before breakfast.” Something they often do is head to Cupra Marittima to rent bikes at Carlito’s bike shop to cycle at the seafront before heading to one of the many seaside restaurants for lunch. “In the late afternoon, we play tennis before heading to the village for an aperitivo before dinner at home for an evening barbecue.”
I also spoke to America-based Deborah of Italian descent who despite living in the states kept the beloved traditions of her Italian relatives alive. Her and her husband are working professionals who love travel and come often to Italy. Deborah explained to me over email “I felt a deep connection to Italy most of my life. As a young girl, I was fascinated watching Italian movies with actress Sophia Loren and my biggest dream was to one day own a home in Italy.”
Their intrigue for Le Marche was ignited after reading an article about Appassionata that made them ponder, could this be the solution for us?
As you may have predicted, as soon as they arrived in this often-overlooked region, the landscape was the first catalyst that took their breath away.
Deborah explained “Where else can you travel from the mountains through the rolling hills to the Adriatic Sea in less than an hour, the authenticity of this beautiful place is really what created such a hold on me”
This region indeed is one of Italy’s best kept secrets where one can swim in the blue sea, hike the rugged mountains and stumble upon so many charming medieval hilltop villages and hidden places carved into ancient stone.
Deborah was also won over by the seamless solution to own a luxury property for a fraction of the price. One of her initial concerns was an eye for interior aesthetics, something that she well appreciates in her home in Le Marche that Appassionata-owner Dawn has lovingly decorated. Her eye for detail is one of the reasons that the shares in these properties typically sell rather quickly. Dawn spent ages working hard with local artisans to make sure every single room was unique, with no small detail overlooked.
Mod-cons like a washer and dryer and other high-end appliances were an attractive bonus along with three attractive terraces with sweeping vistas of the countryside. As Deborah says “If you look closely on a nice day, you can even spot the Adriatic Sea in the distance.”
Additionally, one of the biggest hurdles they had before while house searching was the idea of owning a home but not being able to regularly maintain the day to day works, this making Appassionata’s full daily management of the property especially attractive for their needs.
“Appassionata meticulously maintains the property through the year so that when we arrive we can immediately embrace “vacation mode” with no worries. Everything is in full working order when we arrive and we can even have a stocked refrigerator if we arrange in advance” Deborah says.
I asked what else Deborah appreciated about local life in Le Marche as for me. She replied “It is a wonderful experience to just throw open the windows and watch the local residents going about their day, chatting over morning coffee and freshly-baked pastries or just taking in the delicious smells wafting from our neighbor’s cooking on Sunday afternoons. Not to mention the sound of church bells chiming in on the hour.”
They felt the warmth of the village and welcomed by other residents, helping them to fit into the fabric of local life. Deborah continues with “Needless to say, we have a fun, active social life in Le Marche.”
I asked her to explain how she spends a day in her village to which she replies “our days can be whatever we want them to be. Luxuriating at home, doing nothing or enjoying a glass of wine overlooking a beautiful vineyard. We may visit one of the many medieval villages and towns and choose between the sea and the mountains. The food and wine here is absolutely sublime. One can choose to dine under the stars at a gourmet restaurant or at a more casual seaside chalet.”
She finished with “For my family, the entire Appassionata experience has been the best decision we’ve ever made, rejoicing in “La Dolce Vita” year after year.
This is a question I have been asked many times over the past few years. While I don’t like to generalise, the common theme is people who want to experience real Italy, immerse themselves in the culture and history, value the importance of family and of course the great cuisine!
For our family, for our business, Le Marche is the perfect place. Trying to find some authenticity in this crazy, busy world is getting more and more difficult. Sometimes we just need to escape the chaos and experience something real and true.
Le Marche prides itself on being quintessentially Italian and that’s what people fall in love with, and it still remains one of Italy’s best kept secrets.
A Leader or Follower?
There are some people who are leaders, they are adventurous and like to make their own discoveries, each day is exciting and they have a thirst for knowledge. Some people are followers, they go where others have been and see what others have seen. They like to travel the well trodden path.
Most visitors to Italy travel to the main tourist cities like Rome and Florence and bask on the beaches along the Amalfi Coast. These places are amazing and definitely worth a visit, but does this give you a true insight into the real Italy?
For those of us who really like to get under the skin of a country and integrate with the locals rather than be surrounded by thousands of tourists, Le Marche is the place. I prefer to hear the beautiful tones of the Italian language being spoken while drinking my early morning coffee, rather than my mother tongue.
Picture a place where mountains roll gently down to a stunning coastline of blue flag beaches, dotted with restaurants serving the catch of the day.
A patchwork vista really does exist here, a blend of olive groves and vineyards and fields of sunflowers shimmering in the sun ….. sometimes I feel like I’m driving through a film set. Generation after generation have farmed the land for hundreds of years, growing produce for their family or selling it onto the local shops and restaurants.
This is a region brimming with ancient churches, abbeys and monasteries. Tiny village theatres, with fresco ceilings and gold leaf mouldings are found tucked away along the cobbled streets of virtually every medieval village. I have had the great privilege of watching many productions over the past years and I often have to pinch myself that I’m not in Covent Garden. I’m sitting in a tiny, exquisite, eighty seat theatre, built hundreds of years ago in a hill top town in Le Marche, but the standard, the professionalism and the dedication is the same
How Do You Spend Your Time?
I like to stay busy, which is good as I have four children, two grandchildren, four rescue horses, two rescue dogs, and six cats, and I work…..
Whatever your interests and passions there are so many possibilities here.
It’s All About the Experience
Here is a brief snap shot of our down time in Le Marche.
Monday evening was magical, sitting under the stars in the piazza of the museum, Polo Museale di San Francesco, in the town of Montefiore dell ‘Aso, watching an old Italian movie L’Albero Degli Zoccoli. This museum dates back to 1264 and the painting Polyptch by the famous artist Carlo Crivelli is the centre piece.
Sergio, the owner of Osteria della Cornacchie, one of our local restaurants, kindly invited our family over for dinner on Tuesday as a thank you for being one of his best customers. He is famous for his sense of humour, and polenta served on a wooden board. Italians travel for miles to taste this speciality and enjoy the great atmosphere.
Early to bed on Wednesday evening, as we had a 4.30am alarm call on Thursday morning. A sunrise concert performed by the violinist Valentino Alessandrini, down on the beach in the seaside town of Pedaso. The music, the setting, everything was totally breath taking. The waves crashing against the rocks added to the emotion of this very special occasion. It was certainly worth the early start and I will definitely be returning again next year.
Friday is the day I love to cycle along the promenade, which runs for miles alongside the beach. I pull over for a cappuccino, chat to the locals and browse the local market in San Benedetto. I can never resist stopping off for lunch in Grottamare at one of the best seafood restaurants in the world, Il Grecale.
Saturday evening…… this was something I have always wanted to experience, La Cena in Vigna, dinner in the vines. One of our local cantina’s, Dea Flora, organised a wonderful evening of food, wine and live music. A magical setting, with shooting stars lighting up the night sky.
Our philosophy is to celebrate and share the very best Italy has to offer, without compromise.
To find out more about the magic of Le Marche and our luxurious holiday homes, please contact me.
Fractional Ownership is a successful, growing concept, but few people really understand exactly what it means, or the benefits it offers those of us wanting a holiday home. 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 was developed to create a more secure and reliable solution for those wanting to share ownership of a luxurious item.
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 only 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 owners have undertaken several re-sales on behalf of owners over the last few years, achieving an average return of over 10% on the total value of shares sold.
“Fractional ownership with Appassionata was a much more pragmatic approach to owning a home in Italy. The properties are meticulously restored and fractional ownership was the solution to all of the expense and hassle of overseas home ownership.”
Victor & Sandra Jason – Owners USA
Ownership with Appassionata- means owning a luxury property which is professionally managed and maintained throughout the year. The ten 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 have to pay for the entire year.
Appassionata 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.
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/Dubai
Fractional Ownership provides a modern solution to owning a holiday home. It’s makes more sense having a group of people share the running cost of the property and 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 local people.
It is a given that the legal structure for Fractional Ownership must be robust. The legal structure must protect the owners and the property, providing a simple and transparent way for the property to be managed. The Appassionata structure is secure, tried and tested.
Appassionata sells 1/10th shares in each of their properties, owners have exclusive use of their house during their 5 weeks of annual residency. Residency is booked in September for the following year, and gives all owners real choice and flexibility, with the opportunity to experience different times of the year.
To experience the quality and uniqueness of Appassionata properties or to find out more information please get in touch and we can arrange a discovery trip 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.
” The Sunday Times”
Enjoy the luxury of owning an Italian home, to share with family and friends.
The history of Agostini olive oil is a story of passion, tradition and excellence. A story that began in 1945, a business handed down from father to son, today, in its third generation. The Agostini company has created a unique olive oil, ensuring the highest quality and an unforgettable taste.
The Agostini Olive Mill has been nominated as one of the 200 best olive oil mills in the world, by the prestigious food sector magazine Der Feinschmecker. They are multiple gold medal winner in Italian and international competitions.
The company is located in Petritoli, in the Marche Region of Italy. Nestled between the Sibillini Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, where the air is pure and fresh, and the climate is ideal for olive trees.
In Le Marche the culinary heritage of oil dates back from the ancient Romans. In 1945 Alfredo Agostini started to produce olive oil in a small olive mill. Now, his son Gaetano Agostini is managing the company with his sons Marco and Elia, and his brother Maurizio.
Gaetano Agostini has been able to reproduce the same traditional process to make an extra virgin olive oil.
He personally selects only the finest quality olives. He carefully oversees each single step of the production, to obtain and guarantee a product with authentic quality and taste.
At the Agostini Mill the harvest is done by hand and the pressing takes place within 6-12 hours. First the cold press to allow the final oil a larger amount of natural antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and carotene, important for healthy living.
The passion and the commitment from the Agostini family has resulted in them winning several prestigious awards.
Over the years, their growing dedication to olive oil has made them continue in the direction of key guiding principles: Quality, Sustainability and Innovation with an absolute respect for the Land.
Agostini has embarked upon an Enterprise Project, focusing on sustainability and biodiversity. They believe that the land and its welfare will become the primary interest of our society in the future. An Enterprise based on dignity, of the people and of the land.
They began to implement this idea by starting the production of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Its application for certification was made 17 years ago, and was promptly acknowledged in 2002 after three years of assessment.
Their main concern was to pursue the ultimate aim and minimize the environmental impact.
In 2010 they decided to abandon the old energy supply systems and focus on Renewable Energy, investing in a solar energy panel system placed on the roof of the olive mill. They chose to use renewable energy without needlessly occupying green space
This also allowed them to become completely energy-independent, while reducing close to zero c
arbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from the use of the traditional energy supply systems.
They also looked at the issue around disposal of the waste products. In 2012 they decided to make a
step further in theminimization of the environmental impact. They installed a machine to extract the “Olive pit granules” from the processing waste. A 100% natural and ecological biomass fuel. In this way they are now able to recover an important and optimal natural source of energy which is usually thrown away.
Here’s our favourite variety from the Agostini Oil Mill, a gold medal winner in both Italy and New York!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Sublìmis
Oil extracted in Italy from olives cultivated in Italy.
Variety/Cultivar:: Frantoio e Carboncella.
Harvest Time: October/November.
Max Acidity: 0,3.
Pac: Glass Bottle 0,250 Lt; 0,500 Lt; 0,750 Lt.
Type of Harvesting: Hand-picked.
Extraction System: Continuous Cycle, cold pressing ( within the first 12 hours after the harvesting).
Flavor:Intense aroma with strongly grassy hints. It has an intense artichoke taste and light scent of almond and tomato.
Food Pairing: Excellent on grilled meats, legumes soups, bruschetta and on all dishes enhancing the rich taste of mediterranean cooking.
The award winning Agostini Family:
One of our American owners,Debbie Yackal, was so impressed after tasting the oil she now ships and sells it in the US. Please check out her website:
We love receiving owners testimonials and understanding their motivation about joining the Appassionata family. Thank you Mary Harmon for this tremendous insight.
It is a quite interesting and uncanny set of events of how I came to know the properties of Appassionata in Le Marche, and subsequently purchased a share of Il Riposo.
In February 2017, I purchased a piece of art, an oil on acrylic, a contemporary heart, for my upcoming birthday gift to myself. It was entitled ” Appassionata”. I researched and found that this is an Italian musical term meaning with heart, with passion and vigor. Ok, so what does this art piece have to do with a property purchase in Le Marche? My family is still pondering that one.
For the last couple of years, I had been perusing properties for sale in the Tuscany region of Italy. My travels had taken me there a few times. I began to dream of having a small place in Italy not thinking I could really afford it, but one never knows, right? In those Tuscany visits, I had fell in love with the rolling hillsides, vineyards, wine, food and robust coffee. I also fell deeply in love with the generous spirit of the people and their love of family.
Imagine my excitement when the “Appassionata ” ad popped up on my computer screen out of the blue? While I am sure that technology tracking was the real culprit, I decided it was providence and made an impromptu decision to journey to Le Marche and check it out. In 2 weeks, I was on my way, on my adventure to Le Marche. I got off to a rocky start as my plane arrived late and it was dark when I began the drive from the Ancona Airport to Petritoli, in the last 5 speed stick Fiat for rent at the Hertz counter.
When I arrived, India, the Sales Director, was waiting for me and settled me into the most cozy and quaint medieval apartment I have ever seen. I snuggled in for a sound sleep in preparation for our tour the next day.
India and I met for fresh coffee before beginning our tour. As we drove through the countryside with almond and cherry trees in full bloom , I could barely contain my excitement. Once we reached the Patrignone village and opened the door to a visual display of beauty and love that was clearly displayed in the furnishings and detail throughout, coupled with the natural beauty of the hills, sea and mountains, I could not resist purchasing a share of Il Riposo.
I love the share ownership concept in conjunction with other families, to have access to a wonderful Italian property and share the expense of ownership. It helped that my family already owns a share of a beach home on BaldHead Island, North Carolina in the USA that we have had for many years, so I easily understood how it all works.
When our four children were young I frequently used the phrase sharing and caring. Share your possessions with your siblings and friends. Watch someone else experience joy and happiness from something that is dear to you. It shows you care. I’m not saying it’s easy. Try explaining that to a three year old, clutching their favourite toy. It can be quite a challenge!
Hopefully it was good advice. Our children have grown up to be thoughtful, kind and caring adults.
Appassionata was created around the same principles. We immerse ourselves into the caring Italian culture, grounded by strong family traditions. Small communities caring for each other. Old and young cared for by their own families, often sharing the same home.
Appassionata is a boutique, family business. We buy, restore, furnish and sell shares in luxury properties in Le Marche for a limited few. Ten owners share the purchase cost and all running costs of their home for five exclusive weeks each year. All the boring legal work has been done, by us. Owners can share their Italian home with family and friends and see the joy others experience from their generosity. Owners don’t have all the worries, work and stress normally associated with owning a holiday home. Appassionata does it all. They arrive, indulge and relax. Many of our owners have celebrated special occasions in their Italian home. Sharing memories and precious time together. Italy brings families together. We care about our owners and make sure everything is perfectly prepared for their next visit
Appassionata want to share this beautiful region of Italy and take care of you.
Appassionata properties are occupied throughout the entire year, and this constant flow of people helps support local businesses. Owners are given a warm welcome in the shops, bars, cafes and restaurants each time they return. Many of them become friends.
Our owners can also interact with each other, sharing their favourite restaurants, wines, beaches and designer outlets!
We currently have a few shares remaining in our fourth property, Il Riposo. An elegant three storey, four bedroom villa. Nestled within the beautiful medieval borgo of Patrignone. Ideally situated between blue flag beaches and the Sibillini mountains. There is certainly plenty to share amongst loved ones.
We invite you to come and visit us and see why we care so much about this hidden gem in Italy.
Please contact India Hobbs Mauger for more information
Here’s one of our favourite recipes, probably because it’s quick, easy and delicious!
Spaghetti alle vongole
Spaghetti with clams and cherry tomatoes
This is a light, fresh and yet full flavoured pasta dishes so frequently served along the coast. Small clams are usually used for this recipe.
The spaghetti remains in bianco (without a tomato sauce). The cherry tomato halves are tossed into the pan at the last minute to heat them through.
Here we go –
1 kg (2lb 4oz) small, fresh clams
4 tablespoons olive oil plus a little extra
3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
1 small dried red chilli, crumbled
1 medium bunch of parsley, chopped
125 ml (1/2 cup of white wine, plus a glass for drinking while cooking!!)
500 g (1 lb 2oz) spaghetti
200 g (7oz) ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
Soak the clams in lightly salted water for a few hours. Change the water frequently and drain in a colander to get rid of any sand. Rinse and drain well.
Heat the olive oil in a large wide stockpot. Add the garlic, chilli and half the parsley. When you begin to smell the garlic, add the clams and the white wine. Turn up the heat to high, put a lid on, and cook for 5 minutes or until the clam shells have opened.
Remove from the heat and discard any clams that have remained tightly closed. Remove about half of the clams from the shells, discard the shells and return the clam meat back to the pan. Leave the rest of the clams in their shells.
Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water. While the spaghetti is cooking, add the cherry tomatoes to the clam pan and season with salt and pepper. Return to the heat for a few minutes to heat through. Drain the spaghetti when it is ready and add to the clam pan, toss with a pair of tongs.
Coat the clams with the liquid from the clams. Put into individual pasta bowls, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve immediately, with a drizzle of olive oil.
Fabulous with a slice or two of fresh bread to dunk and a glass of Passerina to drink!
As a child my favourite TV programme was the Waltons. The love and warmth, the sharing and caring, working together were all important things to me. I always imagined having a large family, six children seemed a nice even number. Dressed in denim dungarees, chopping wood and baking cakes. Fast forward a few years and four children later, I couldn’t quite manage six!
Realism had settled in, our four children were not all going to work together, but we were delighted when our daughter and son in law decided to join us at Appassionata. Ensuring an eclectic mix of business skills and a huge amount of passion.
Michael is incredibly positive, the glass isn’t half full, it’s overflowing! A successful retailer by trade, he is the left brain, bringing organisation and structure to the table. Not an easy task with our team! He loves business, technology, new apps, upgrades and instant information. He loves people, wine, food and routine. He can sit still for hours at a time, totally absorbed. He enjoys riding a motor bike around India and has just taken up cycling around the hills of Le Marche on a road bike.
I, Dawn, am a creative right brain, day dreamer and find it difficult to sit still. My passions include property restoration, interior design, writing and photography. I find it difficult to plan, organise and structure my life. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Technology is a constant uphill struggle. I see everything visually, designing a new project is easy, my brain takes a series of finished photos and then I work backwards. I spend days driving around antique markets and shops, looking for that perfect piece, details matter. Most of my spare time is taken up with animals, five horses, three dogs and two cats. I love to rescue and rehabilitate. Calming a horse who is petrified of all humans. Rearing and bucking and quivering with fear, they teach us patience, trust and partnership.
India, our daughter, was born to socialise. From a very young age she would talk to anyone and everyone. Very mature for her age, she has a natural talent to listen and be interested in all around her. She settled into her role of sales and client liaison at Appassionata with ease. Everyone loves her non pushy, professional, friendly way. She gets things done. She loves to help our owners organize wine tours, in house dining or truffle hunting. She is everyone’s ‘go to’ girl and nothing is too much trouble. She is mother to Lucas and Mimi, our beautiful
grandchildren, who have added another wonderful dimension to our family.
India’s husband, Charlie, started his working life as a stone mason in France. Over the last few years he has learnt every part of the building process in Italy. He loves landscaping and pool design, and is highly respected amongst our building team for his hard work, dedication and leadership. He now project manages our new properties and oversees all the ongoing maintenance. It has been wonderful to watch Charlie grow and learn, blossom and mature.
We are all passionate about what we do. We recognise if we blend our skills together we have the perfect balance to create beautiful homes in Italy.
Over the coming months we want to share a selection of seasonal recipes with you, from the heart of Italy.
Year after year, as the months and ingredients change, so does the family table. We prepare and serve what is in season, strawberries are ready in April, we don’t eat them in December! The earth gives us what we need, oranges and their vitamin C in winter and refreshing watermelons arrive in August.
Ingredients vary, not just seasonally, but monthly. Sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. Each month passes and we see a change in the fields. The locals are passionately involved with their surroundings and respect the land. They lovingly sow their crops and naturally reap most of their produce in the summer months.
Some products are ever present, carrots, celery, sage and rosemary, and they form the basis of most casserole dishes.
Here in Le Marche the quality of the ingredients is very important. Dishes are simple and delicious. A piece of meat, grilled and transformed with lashings of local olive oil, a peach eaten off the tree after lunch. The gorgeous artichoke dipped in lemon juice and luminous green olive oil. Tomatoes bursting with the scent of summer.
It’s April and the weather has changed. We are surrounded by flowering fruit blossom. Their beautiful colours reveal the imminent peach and plum harvest. There is tarragon and rocket and the wonderful arrival of succulent strawberries, which help to rid the body of toxins, accumulated over the winter, with their slightly astringent qualities.
April is the month of spring cleaning and Easter. Artichokes are now in the fields. Their tall, solid, lilac crowned stalks stand proudly in smart lines.
This week’s recipe – starting with something simple.
Carciofi Ripieni – Stuffed artichokes, perfect served with roast lamb.
12 medium globe artichokes
1 medium bunch of parsley, chopped
4 garlic gloves, peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
30g (1oz) butter
500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
Rinse the artichokes and trim the tough outer leaves.
Cut away about a third of the top spear of each artichoke. Cut away the stem completely, in line with the artichoke bottom.
Put each artichoke bottom side up, onto a wooden chopping board. Push gently against the artichoke with your hand to widen the central cavity of the artichoke. Using scissors, snip away any top spikes of the internal small leaves.
Mix the chopped parsley and garlic together and divide the mixture between the artichoke cavities and the leaves.
Put the artichokes upright in a high rimmed saucepan, where they can fit in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and add the stock. Put a knob of butter into each artichoke and bring the stock to the boil. Spoon over a little of the stock, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the artichokes are tender. Remove the lid and continue cooking to reduce the liquid until only a little remains.