“Italy is a great place to do business.”
A bold claim perhaps, given Italy’s much-documented economic woes over recent years, but for British expat Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs and her family team behind fractional ownership holiday home business Appassionata, one that rings true.
The Appassionata team moved to Italy back in 2004, long before the global economic crisis took hold. In fact, when the economy began to falter, they had already committed to the purchase and redevelopment of a collection of tumbledown farm buildings in rural Le Marche – an area known as a more authentic (and affordable) Tuscany.
Not one to be swayed from her vision of turning the buildings into two luxury holiday homes, nestled in an estate packed with vines and olive trees, Dawn carried on with her usual blend of inspiration and determination. She comments,
“When the global economic crisis began we were part way through renovating Estate Giacomo Leopardi and I knew that there was no turning back. We simply had to make the business work. What surprised me, given the repeated headlines about how much Italy has been struggling, was how quickly buyers wanted to be a part of the Appassionata dream – buyers from here in Italy, as well as from overseas.
“It turns out that with the right idea, a business can survive and even thrive in difficult economic conditions. I am sure that some of our friends thought we were barmy to carry on in the face of such circumstances, but I truly believe that Italy is a great place to do business. It has certainly proven so for Appassionata.”
The first of Appassionata’s luxury retreats, Casa Giacomo, was ready for launch in April 2011. It was divided into ten shares, each of which entitles the owner to five weeks’ use per year. All ten fractions had sold by May 2012. Casa Leopardi, the second house on the estate, was ready for owners to use by June 2012. By November 2013, nine of the ten fractions had been sold. The remaining share was purchased a year later.
Now Appassionata’s third holiday home has been released to the market, with fractions costing from £65,000. Casa Tre Archi is located in the delightful medieval town of Petritoli and boasts three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a generously proportioned roof terrace with breath-taking views to the sea over the rolling countryside. Three fractions have already sold, despite the property only being ready for use in the autumn.
With business confidence on the up (it reached 96.0 in October 2014, ending a four month decline, according to figures from ISAE/ISTAT), it will be interesting to see how quickly the remaining seven fractions of Casa Tre Archi are snapped up. It may be too early to speak of a full recovery so far as the Italian economy is concerned, but positive indicators are in place and the Consumer Price Index has reported a growth of 0.1% in prices in October, which is a good turnaround from the September figure of -0.4%. The year on year figure has also risen to 0.1%.
Further weight is added to the argument of Italy’s being a welcoming business environment by Appassionata’s other venture, Appassionata Boutique. A designer handbag line launched by Dawn and created in partnership with a local artisan who has worked for almost all of Italy’s big fashion houses, Appassionata Boutique has rapidly become a favourite of those who love high-end bags, both in Italy and beyond its borders.
“Italy has certainly been through some tough times,” concludes Dawn, “but with the right approach and the right idea it has been possible for both Appassionata and Appassionata Boutique to grow healthy businesses here. If we can achieve this level of success during the hard times, I can’t wait to see what the good times bring!”
For more information visit www.appassionata.com or contact the Appassionata team on +39 33154 13225.