Looking for a home in Italy? Consider Le Marche

Looking for a home in Italy? Consider Le Marche

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?

  • Buy the weeks you are actually going to use each year
  • Align your costs with your usage
  • Make a lifestyle investment to share with family & friends
  • Own a more luxurious holiday home than you thought possible
  • Share the annual running costs of the property
  • Own a fully furnished interior designed home
  • Have your holiday home managed and serviced
  • Start your holiday the minute you arrive

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 

 

Letters from Le Marche …. chapter one.

Letters from Le Marche …. chapter one.

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Over the past few years many people have asked me to write a blog, me, I’m not even on Facebook! But, I do like writing and relish the opportunity to share our Italian adventures with you.

Was it the classic midlife crisis move, maybe, maybe not, I like to think of it as making the most of life. In 2001 we had reached a cross roads in our lives, and the desire for adventure and change were strong. With four children almost grown up, we saw a window of opportunity, and jumped!

People frequently ask me why Italy, why Le Marche, quite simply we fell in love. Let me explain, up until a few years ago I had never visited Italy, we had travelled extensively around Europe and lived in America for a few years, but Italy remained undiscovered.

Out of the blue my husband, Michael, was invited on a business trip to Florence, and asked if I would like to join him, of course I jumped at the chance to visit the one country I had been longing to see.

I was so excited, landing in Pisa and catching the bus into the centre of Florence, I was finally in Italy for two whole days. As with every weekend, at home or away, there is always an important game of rugby on TV.  Michael searched out a bar with sky TV to watch the game that afternoon. I was determined to make the most of the short time we had, plus I knew the shops were fabulous. I have a terrible sense of direction, no inbuilt compass, no natural feeling of north, south, east or west. Sometimes I get hopelessly lost, but these are the times I discover hidden gems.  Florence was no exception, I was lost in minutes, wandering the crowded narrow streets which often led onto a beautiful piazza. I found a little café in the heart of the city, and ordered a cappuccino, my first lesson in Italian etiquette, don’t order cappuccino after 11am, it’s bad for the digestion!

Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs

To be continued…….

From connoisseurs to family groups, Italy calls out to travellers from across the globe

From connoisseurs to family groups, Italy calls out to travellers from across the globe

“Italy has everything – stunning beaches, snow-capped mountain ranges for winter sports, world-class cuisine that is both healthy and delicious, a culture steeped in art and intellectual pursuits, a sun-drenched climate… It really is one of the most attractive countries I can think of when it comes to a holiday destination.”

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So speaks Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs of luxury holiday home company Appassionata, based in Italy’s Le Marche region. And Dawn is certainly not alone in her view. The ENIT Italia survey has shown that tourist numbers were well up over the summer 2013 season, with individual tour operators reporting increases of as much as 40%.

Without question, Italy remains a top global holiday destination. From Rome’s ancient architecture, to the shopping streets of Milan, to the rural splendour, quaint medieval towns and beautiful beaches of Le Marche, Italy has such diversity that it never fails to charm and delight those who venture within its borders.

Food and wine are high up on the list of Italy’s attractions, with Virtuoso’s eighth annual Travel Dreams Survey recently identifying family pasta making lessons as one of the dream holidays for connoisseur travellers, who made up 21% of the survey’s respondents. Deb Gale, owner of a 1/10th share of Appassionata’s stunning fractional ownership property Casa Leopardi, nestled snuggling between the sparkling sea and the misty mountains, explains,

“You cannot help but love the food, the wine, the restaurants and the markets but images of our daughters and a recent fresh pasta making lesson in our farmhouse kitchen at Casa Leopardi lingers even longer.

Gale-family-pasta-lesson-LR-2-661x600

 

Those looking for town life will no doubt be drawn to Appassionata’s latest offering: the three bedroom/three bathroom Casa Tre Archi, in the picturesque and unspoiled town of Petritoli. The townhouse enjoys outside space on three levels, including a generous roof terrace with room for owners to dine at a leisurely pace as the sun lowers over the rolling countryside. Family-friendly, Blue Flag beaches await those who care to venture out, while holidaymakers who prefer to relax in town can stroll through Petritoli’s pretty piazzas.

With shares available from just £65,000, entitling owners to five weeks’ usage per year, Casa Tre Archi provides the perfect way for those who want a second home in Italy to buy one without breaking the bank. The fractional ownership model also removes the stress from owning a holiday home overseas. Owners arrive to a house that is clean, well maintained and ready for them to simply drop their bags and begin having fun, while those who own their second home outright usually arrive to an overgrown garden, general maintenance and a list of outstanding minor repairs.

For more information on the benefits of fractional ownership and the joys of Italy as a holiday destination, contact the Appassionata team on 0039 073 465 8775 or visit www.appassionata.com.

Tourists splash the cash in Italy furthering boosting the nation’s property market

Recently released figures for 2013 have shown that tourism to Italy generated a massive €73 billion during the year. This figure includes some 831 million tourist arrivals, made up of both Italian tourists (60.9%) and foreign visitors (39.1%).

According to a report by the Observatory on Tourism, UNIONCAMERE-ISNART, the average expenditure by tourists also saw positive movement during 2013. For domestic tourists, average spending rose from €67 per day in 2012 to €72 per day in 2013. Foreign tourists were also happier to part with their cash, spending an average of €78 per day in 2013, compared to €69 per day the previous year.

In terms of nationality, the biggest spenders were Russian tourists at €149.48 per capita, followed by Japanese (€122), Spanish (€111.17), British (€105.14), German (€104.42) and American (€102.34).

Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, founder of Italian fractional ownership company Appassionata, comments,

“Foreign tourism continues to be an important source of revenue for Italy. In times of economic uncertainty and increased competition, tourist flows from all over the world have helped to bolster the economy and strengthen our property industry.

“The increasingly positive economic news coming out of Italy is encouraging foreign investors to look very closely at the country’s housing market. With the increase of tourism helping to free Italy from recession, many overseas visitors are looking to make their stay more permanent and snap up holiday home bargains before prices begin to rise again.”

Indeed, Italy is attracting visitors from far and wide, especially from Asia, with a fast track being opened for visas for Chinese tourists making it easier to visit this ever popular country. There were 57,000 visa applications to the Consulate-General of Italy in Guangzhou last year, a surge of 20 percent from the previous year, with tourism visa applications making up three-quarters of last year´s total.

The combination of lowered market prices and an increase of foreign tourist spending mean that now really could be the perfect time for buyers to invest in their dream Italian second home, so what are you waiting for?

There are currently many properties at great prices throughout Italy, such as Appassionata’s latest project in Le Marche’s medieval town of Petritoli – Casa Tre Archi. A three bedroom townhouse packed with original features, including castle-like turrets and a gorgeous roof terrace with views across the rolling hills all the way down to the Adriatic coast, the property provides stunning holiday accommodation at a fraction of the usual cost – just £65,000 for a share that entitles owners to five weeks’ usage per year. Within walking distance of fantastic traditional restaurants, bars, shops, and even its own theatre, this location has it all.

For more information contact Appassionata on 0039 073 465 8775, visit www.appassionata.com, like the dedicated Facebook page or follow @appassionata_it on Twitter.

ITALY: €73 billion generated by tourism industry in 2013.

In Italy in 2013, tourism generated a turnover of €73 billion. This figure covers the cost of over 831 million tourist arrivals of which 60.9% were Italian and 39.1% foreign. So, while our compatriots fell 3.9 % and spent 2% less, visitors from abroad recorded a slight increase in spending of 0.7% revealed by Observatory on Tourism UNIONCAMERE-ISNART.

39.9% of the total was invested in accommodation and catering and 60.1% in other sectors. In particular: 18.7% in recreational and cultural activities, 16.1 % in agriculture and food, 10.4 % in manufacturing industries, 10.4% in clothing and footwear, 2.3% in publishing and 2.1% in transport.

Compared to the previous year, consumption of food decreased (-15.1%) and housing (-17.9%); whereas, there was an increase of spending on clothing and footwear (+15.1%), the agricultural and food industry (+14.1%), and recreational activities (+4.9%). The average expenditure per capita of tourists per day in Italy was €47 for accommodation and €75 for all other consumption.

Agricultural and food is the first and foremost in expenditure for the visitors of our country: 67.5% attend restaurants and pizzerias, spending on average €16 per person, and 68.3% are entertained in bars, cafes, and bakeries, consuming about €6 per day. Many buy their food and drinks in supermarkets and shops (60.4% at around €23), while 32% of visitors choose to bring home souvenirs of local food and wine, spending about €10 per head.

Excluding the costs of travel and accommodation, the average expenditure of Italian tourists in 2013 has seen a good recovery (€72 per day compared to €67 the previous year). Also, there was a significant increase for foreigners: €78 per day compared to €69 in 2012.

Taking into account the costs incurred for housing, the biggest ‘spenders’ were the Russians (€149.48 per capita compared to an average of €102.33), followed by the Japanese (€122), the Spanish (€111.17), the British (€105.14), the Germans (€104.42), and then the Americans (€102.34).

Below average, however, were the French (€98.33), the Swiss (€96.57), the Austrians (€95.48), and finally the Dutch (€83.54).