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…….

Ancona Jazz, the Rich Music Culture of Le Marche

Picture this: Darkness among the audience, the sound of a jacket straightening on a chair, the relenting footsteps of the last arrival who gropingly reaches his seat before it’s too late. Many small impatient heads and before them a stage, lit up by a single spotlight pointed at the piano. The smell of velvet and stuccos in the air. The boards of the stage still emanating a layer of imperceptible dust, shaken upon the arrival of the piano. All of a sudden a series of formidable notes – a jolt. You didn’t even notice him enter. He has begun to play frenetically without prior warning.

And immediately it was jazz.ancona-jazz-logo-retina

No, you are not at the Cotton Club in New York, nor in one of the bars in Rio where they play Bossa Nova. You are in Ancona and this is Ancona Jazz. The historic organisers of the festival like to remember having hosted, in almost forty years, practically all the greatest jazz artists: from Sonny Rollins to Stan Getz, from Keith Jarret to Billy Higgins to the mythical concert of Dizzie Gillespie in ’81. Who knows how many of those evenings can be described by that opening scene.

The fruit of great passion and expertise, Ancona Jazz is an initiative that was founded in 1974 and has never stopped revamping itself. In 1979 it gained stability and began to take place every year from January to February. Venues that hosted Ancona jazz back then included the Experimental Theatre, the Metropolitan Cinema and the Goldoni, but also many other smaller venues like osterias or hotels were used to recreate the typical atmosphere of a jazz club. In 1996 the festival became a three-day event taking place in November and it started to become well-known at a national level. With the re-opening of the Theatre of the Muses, the greatest theatre in the city, the real revolution took place: in 2004 the festival moved to July and the duration increased to ten days. The distinctive feature of this decision was the offer of a series of indoor summer concerts to the public, guaranteeing acoustic quality and confident performances. And so, the Ancona Jazz Summer Festival was born.jzz-pic1

From 2009 onwards the festival has taken place in the courtyard of the Mole Vanvitelliana and is one of the most important events in the cultural calendar that is Amo la Mole. The programme also involves other beautiful places throughout the city, like Piazza del Plebiscito, Cardeto Park, the terrace at the Archaeological Museum and the Dorica Marina. Although its formula has changed the festival maintains its character, recognisable both in Italy and outside the national borders, and the African-American tradition remains a central point of interest alongside experimental projects and productions. Swing, interpreted through a new language, jazz vocals and many exclusives all contribute to make Ancona Summer Jazz Festival a rich and stimulating platform for the experts and for those who are simply curious. Ancona Jazz also participates in the organisation of summer events in Jesi, Offagna and Senigallia.

12-5-16-jazz-combos-concertA creation of the forces behind the cultural organisation Spaziomusica, Ancona Jazz continues to spread its notes, even during the winter: the end-of-year gospel concert organised close to Christmas in collaboration with the Muse Foundation is now a classic. Linked to Ancona Jazz is also the event Le Strade del Jazz, a annual event that has been highly anticipated by all enthusiasts for more than ten years. The programme normally unravels over ten events scattered throughout the Ancona region during the first months of the year and aims to offer “a cross-section of contemporary jazz that looks at history as an unlimited fountain of ideas and emotions”. It offers visitors the possibility of listening to lesser-known musicians in Italy, but also to specific repertories of wider fame.

Ancona Jazz is not jazz solely because of the type of concerts that it puts on; it is jazz in its way of thinking, in the value attributed to openness to others, to comparison and to fusion: from 2007 it has been part of a network with two of the other most important jazz events in Marche – Fano Jazz and TAM’s Grottazzolina. And in 2010, Musicando, an event in the province of Macerata, was also added to that network. All of them together form the Marche Jazz Network.logo2

Le Marche has such a diverse, rich culture of music and entertainment, and the Marche Jazz Network is a just one wonderful example…..


 

Rest easy, in beautiful Italy

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!

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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:

Minimal maintenance:

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!

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Travelling light:

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.

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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?

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Your Great Escape: why now is the best time to buy a holiday home abroad

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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.

Appassionata’s Dawn talks transitional interior design for autumn

The clocks are going back, there’s a cooler breeze in the air and I’m beginning to dream of cosy evenings in with the family by a log fire. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you some of my favourite autumnal design tips to take you from summer to autumn with sophistication, style and ease.

As the designer of all the properties in the Appassionata portfolio, I take inspiration from everything I see and experience in this beautiful region throughout the year. From the sun-soaked beach during summer, to the glistening snow-topped mountains in the winter, everything influences my design direction. And, as we proudly welcome our latest property to market, the 12th century Il Riposo building, my attention is turning to seasonal interiors and how I can bring a feeling of welcoming warmth to our owner’s homes.

Here, I’ve handpicked some of my favourite transitional pieces to show you how to capture autumnal Italian ambience. So, pour yourself a cappuccino, snuggle down under a quilted throw and allow us to introduce you to the luxurious look of our latest property in Le Marche

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The first piece I adore is the restored gold leaf painted antique bed that sits in one of the master bedrooms, down the sweeping staircase to the ground floor. Alongside old brick vaults and a period-inspired roll top bath, the antique king sized bed is a scene stealing feature which combines an opulent gilded trim with authentic upholstery. Embracing one of my personal top autumnal trends, warm metallic tones, this bed is the perfect piece for a cosy and inviting space.

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Another favourite, and a lovely nature-inspired piece for autumn, is the handmade light fitting in the stairway at Il Riposo. Featuring an elegant vine and leaf design in antique gold, this wall-light strikes the perfect balance between art and accessory. Combining a practical item with a dress piece, this is guaranteed to create a homely atmosphere at night, and a stylish focal point during the day.

Finally, I love the trend for natural wood within the home, especially during the colder months. To introduce this more rustic trend in a luxurious way, I’ve combined aged wood with intricate hand carved patterns. Adorning mirrors and artwork throughout the rooms at Il Riposo, these frames are painted in muted greys, creams and gold tones. I selected these hues as they’re not only perfect for autumn, but also light enough to ensure the grain and carvings can still be clearly seen for an antique finish.

Whenever we welcome a new property to market, I spend a lot of time sourcing the perfect designs and working with local artisans in the region to ensure a high end, yet characterful finish. Now complete, we can’t wait to welcome the owners to Il Riposo – and if you’d like to see even more of our interior design ideas, you can watch our brand new Il Riposo video tour here.

 

Celebrating Tourism Day by shining the light on our stunning new Il Riposo property

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“One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.”  — Edith Wharton

They say thappassionata-italian-property-il-riposo-bedroomere’s no greater thing to broaden the mind than travel, and with Tourism Day just around the corner, which celebrates the broad vistas and cultures that the people of the world offer, here at Appassionata we’re celebrating that real slice of the Italian life – and shining the light on our stunning new property Il Riposo ‘The Retreat’.

Adding to our bespoke property portfolio, Il Riposo is our fourth development and dates back to the 12th century. With a private swimming pool and terraced garden, as well as 2260 sq ft (210m2) of living space – this property is a stunning traditional town house, and perfect for those travellers who love to be in the heart of a community.

appassionata-italian-property-il-riposo-staircaseIl Riposo has four double bedrooms and three bathrooms over three floors, with the ground floor a stunning sanctuary, with exposed brickwork features, and a freestanding roll-top bath to make the perfect master suite.

A truly idealistic setting in the Ascoli Piceno province of Le Marche too, Il Riposo is situated in the heart of a beautiful medieval hamlet, and offers the perfect balance of serenity for an annual escape, and provides the perfect base to explore some of our best blue flag beaches or for the more adventurous among us, the Sibillini mountains.

So, thoughIL Riposo External Photo 26 the sun is setting on summer, if Tourism Day inspires you to sit back and add to your dream destination wish list, we say make Le Marche top! Look to experience the hidden gem of Italy and if you’re feeling really adventurous, then why not get yourself a step closer to making that dream a reality and book your Appassionata discovery visit here.

 

Meeting people…

IL Riposo External Photo 37One of the reasons I love what I do at Appassionata so much is because I get to meet some really wonderful people. I am very opinionated, (quite a few people would tell you that, including my husband Charlie!) but I’m also passionate about everything I do… what is the point of doing something, anything, if you don’t throw yourself into it and do it properly? It’s a philosophy which guides everything I do at Appassionata, it’s ‘how we do things’.

Please allow me to explain.

A month ago when I was in the UK I got a lovely email from a lady who was enquiring about our property, Casa Tre Archi.

Casa Tre Archi

Casa Tre Archi

She had seen us advertised in Gate-Away’s e-newsletter. They were going to be in Puglia looking at properties and after seeing our advert decided to come up to Le Marche and visit us. Immediately I got a good vibe from her, she was very pleasant and asked all the ‘right’ questions. We had several emails back and forth and then 2 weeks later I was meeting them in Petritoli to show them around. Colleen, Duncan and Angus arrived just before lunch. After a long drive from Puglia on a rather warm day they were happy to be here. I showed them around and they didn’t give much away in terms of interest levels, but this is quite normal- usually the people who come and are gushing about everything from start to finish are the people you don’t hear from again.

I left them to enjoy some lunch with the local groceries I had brought for them and then we arranged to meet for dinner at Re Squarchio, our local Osteria, where we would also be joined by my parents, Dawn and Michael.

Osteria Re Sqaurchio, Petritoli

Ristorante Re Squarchio

For our business its very important to us that people meet us and we meet them. I won’t go as far as to say that we have an interview process where if you score less than 90% you don’t qualify but we seem to be able to tell instantly upon meeting people if what we are offering is going to be suitable for them and for us. We do seem to attract very likeminded individuals, families and couples. They all have a deep love of Italy and all it offers, they are all wanting to make a change in their life, setting aside time for themselves, family and friends, away in their home from home. Many of our owners have high powered/stressful jobs and so when they come here they re charge, relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility.

After a lovely meal out with the Rouse family and having spoken to them a little bit more about the house and the buying process we said good night and they wondered up to the local café to have a gelato and a digestivo. They said that they would be in touch but in the meantime would I send them the contracts and one of the current owners details so they could talk to them about their experience.

Within 2 days Duncan called and said that they had decided to buy. We were delighted as they are lovely people and we knew that they would fit in perfectly as part of the Appassionata family.

They have now completed the purchase process and chosen their 5 weeks to use this year and we are looking forward to welcoming them back in August. From viewing to becoming owners in Casa Tre Archi took 15 days.

So back to where I began. I knew instantly that Colleen was someone who, like us, was passionate about Italy, and together with her terrific sense of humour, shared by her husband Duncan and their son Angus, we had a fair amount in common; they were likeminded people, both with us, and our other owners, the Appasionata family, and we’re delighted that they have joined us.