For­get Tus­cany – it’s all about Le Marche

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

As­mall ru­ral re­gion in cen­tral Italy, Le Marche, has got used to be­ing over­shad­owed by its head­line­grab­bing neigh­bours, Tus­cany and Um­bria. Af­ter buy­ing an Um­brian vine­yard last year, Ed Sheeran, the singer, is re­ported to have said: “I didn’t want to buy in Tus­cany be­cause there are too many English peo­ple there”.

He would have found even fewer if he had ven­tured into next-door Le Marche (also known as Marche), a re­gion of rolling hills of wheat fields and vine­yards, me­dieval towns like Urbino and As­coli Pi­ceno, and 17 Blue Flag beaches on the Adri­atic coast to boot. It may not of­fer the ex­trav­a­gant cul­ture of Tus­cany’s Re­nais­sance towns, but it does have truf­fles, great seafood and fine verdic­chio wines.

An ad­van­tage of be­ing off the radar of in­ter­na­tional buy­ers is that the prop­erty prices are lower too, some­thing that at­tracted ar­chi­tect Adam Hall and his wife, Jus­tine, to buy a home there. “Tus­cany is very fa­mil­iar, yet when we came across Le Marche we re­alised it shared many of its at­tributes, but not the tourists,” he says. “There are gor­geous Cotswold-type stone farm­houses, the food is au­then­tic and you don’t feel you are be­ing over­charged.”

With the help of Mauro Ri­eti, a lo­cal ge­ome­tra or sur­veyor, Adam knocked down a prop­erty near San Gi­ne­sio and re­built and ex­tended it into a beau­ti­ful, high-spec four-bed­room family villa that has earth­quake-proof foun­da­tions. “We spent £100,000 on a pile of stones, spent £400,000 do­ing it up, and now have a home that is worth more than we spent on it,” says the fa­ther of two teenagers, who has set up a com­pany with Mauro to help other buy­ers do the same ( unique­marche.com).

San Gi­ne­sio, a quin­tes­sen­tial Marche hill town with a bell tower, cob­ble­stone streets, and award-win­ning gela­te­ria, along with his­toric As­coli Pi­ceno (de­scribed by Lonely Planet as the “hippest town in Le Marche”), are in the two pop­u­lar south­ern prov­inces.

Ac­cord­ing to gate-away.com, the Ital­ian prop­erty por­tal, these two ar­eas each ac­count for more than 30 per cent of in­quiries in the area, with An­cona next high­est at 17 per cent. The av­er­age prop­erty search budget is €254,800 (£220,000), and buy­ers mostly come from Ger­many, the US, the UK, the Nether­lands and Bel­gium.

Anna Rita, of lo­cal es­tate agency Cella-Shirley, says the “golden tri­an­gle” (yes, ev­ery­where has one) of San Gi­ne­sio, Gualdo and Sar­nano has long been pop­u­lar with Bri­tish buy­ers. “The his­toric cen­tres took a bit of a bat­ter­ing from the earthquakes of 2016, and the mar­ket stopped dead for a bit, but prices are much lower than Tus­cany,” she says.

“You won’t find the same num­ber of stately homes in Le Marche but you can get a 250 sq m (2,690 sq ft) old farm- house for around €350,000 with beau­ti­ful views to­wards the Si­billini moun­tains on one side and the Adri­atic coast on the other.”

That said, she has for sale an el­e­gant coun­try house built in 1850, with a tiny Cis­ter­cian chapel at­tached, on the out­skirts of the for­ti­fied town of Loro Pi­ceno for €349,000. It’s been in a lo­cal family for years and they have half ren­o­vated it, hav­ing done the roofs and walls. But it would need around €300,000 spent on it to make it into a five-bed­room home.

The ar­rival of easyJet flights into An­cona this June should en­cour­age more peo­ple to dis­cover Le Marche too. Ryanair cur­rently flies to An­cona and Pescara from the UK, and the re­gion is strate­gi­cally lo­cated for ac­cess from Venice (four hours), Peru­gia (one hour) or Rome (three hours). “There’s a say­ing in Italy that the largest town of Marche is Rome, be­cause there are many Marchi­giani who go to Rome to make money,” says Rita.

There are also Ro­mans who buy hol­i­day homes near the Marche coast, which is the area that agent Linda Travella rec­om­mends, even though it gets more ex­pen­sive. “If you buy too far in­land, you’ll find your home tricky to sell to sec­ond-home buy­ers,” she sug­gests. “Ital­ians from Rome, Mi­lan and Turin visit for the summers and buy homes in at­trac­tive towns such as Ri­pa­tran­sone or Grot­tom­mare.”

In “Ripa” as it’s known, five miles in­land, you can get a three-bed­room apart­ment in the his­toric cen­tre for €200,000, or a four-bed­room house for €260,000. It’s an hour from both An­cona and Pescara air­ports. In the nearby small family re­sort of Cupra Marit­tima you can buy a new-build one-bed­room apart­ment on the beach for €225,000.

Pre­fer some­thing a lit­tle grander? There’s a 10-bed­room his­toric man­sion with el­e­gant colon­nades, tower and a chapel reached by a tree-lined drive­way that is avail­able for €5mil­lion. Just two miles from the sea, it would make an ideal bou­tique ho­tel, sug­gests Gemma Bruce, an agent from The View­ing. “I love that it is a his­toric prop­erty with both coun­try­side and coastal views. So of­ten in Italy, once you get close to the coast, the prop­er­ties are all modern,” she says.

“Pe­saro is a vi­brant coastal town, and the his­toric cen­tre boasts stylish bou­tiques and aper­i­tif bars along the main street, which runs down to the wa­ter­front prom­e­nade.”

Adam Hall’s villa, which he built from scratch af­ter knock­ing down the orig­i­nal; Hall with his family, be­low

Hall’s villa, perched on the hill­side, left; a bed­room in the house, be­low

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