Flanked by Italy’s majestic Apennine mountains on one side and 111 miles of coastline on the other, the region of Le Marche is adorned with medieval hilltop villages. These are surrounded by undulating patchwork hills where vineyards, orchards and olive groves thrive.
With such a pedigree, it is hard to understand why Le Marche is often overlooked as a property destination in favour of neighbouring Tuscany.
The Marchigiani people have a strong sense of identity encapsulated by a local motto: ‘all of Italy in one region’. This is good news regarding cuisine, culture and history, but less good about the economy, which has fallen into a triple-dip recession.
“Viewed from the outside and on a macroeconomic level, the Italian economy is in the toilet,” said British expat Michael Hobbs, chairman of property firm Appassionata (appassionata.com).
“On a micro-level and living here in Le Marche, matters look different.”
Hit by recession, the local economy undoubtedly has shrunk. “Economic problems exist such as youth unemployment and a decrease in local investment,” said Mr Hobbs. “But small family businesses, often agriculture, cut their cloth accordingly. Being cautious with money and spending wisely helps. Also this is not a credit and mortgage culture, hence Marchigianis do not tend to over extend themselves.”
As a property destination Le Marche is about 35 per cent less expensive than Tuscany according to local estate agent Jane Smith at Magic Marche (magicmarche.com), who commented: “A €2 million property here could easily fetch €3 million in Tuscany. Around 50 per cent of our clients today are looking for habitable properties, whereas in the past, 90 per cent sought old farm properties for renovation.”
For those looking for a project, however, this old ruin (above) in Montefiore dell’aso, which dates back to the mid-19th century, is on sale for €150,000 (£118,621) through Magic Marche. It has 250sq m of living space but Ms Smith warned: “Buyers should expect to pay at least double the asking price to make the property habitable.”
Throughout Le Marche there are thousands of derelict farm houses with multiple family ownership, which makes buying complicated. Other potential problems include boundary and right-of-way issues.
One way to avoid the potential pitfalls of Italian property purchase is fractional ownership, which is typically hassle-free and less costly if you plan to use your home for limited residency. Unlike timeshare, with fractional you own a property share outright in perpetuity. For some, this presents an affordable option for that dream property abroad.
Appassionata, a UK-registered fractional company, is based in Le Marche and run as a family business. It specialises in restoring period properties using local artisans and materials whenever possible. The company’s properties are sold as one-tenth shares for five weeks’ annual use.
Appassionata’s latest property is Casa Tre Archi (above and below), a restored townhouse attached to the turrets of Petritoli, a medieval hilltop town which is a 15-minute drive from the Adriatic. The town has an opera house and a range of shops and restaurants.
The townhouse has a 210 sqm living area over three floors and three double bedrooms, plus a dining room and decked garden area off the kitchen. The outside spaces include a 50 sqm roof terrace with unencumbered views across a rolling landscape. A one-tenth fractional share costs £65,000 for five weeks a year.
All Appassionata properties are fully furnished, with Italian art and antiques inclusive in the price. Instead of year-round costs associated with running a freehold property, owners pay an annual management fee that covers everything from local taxes and utilities through to fresh linens and basic provisions upon arrival.
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