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.
Fractional ownership is fast becoming the smartest way to enjoy the benefits of owning a luxury holiday home in Italy at a fraction of the cost of buying a holiday home outright, learn more about Appassionata’s properties in Le Marche and contact them to arrange your discovery visit today!