Tuesday 23 August 2011

Italian property

Can you still save money in Umbria by restoring a property yourself? Many buyers over the last decade or two indulged their property-designing fantasies and save money in the long run, ended up woth a beautiful, bespoke home that was worth much more than the total they'd invested in it. The consensuos view is that these days are now gone. With restoration costs across central Italy much higher that they were, it's generally agreed that whether you buy and  restore or buy ready restored, you're going end up paying roughly the same in the end. In some cases, a ready restored house might even offers a better value- especially if it's been gorgeouslly done and the vendor is looking for a quick sale, as some foreign vendors usually are. The difference in price between buying and restoring is often negligible; it normally depends on other factors which you feel is the best way to go. One of the biggest factors influencing price in Umbria is, of course, location. Medieval hill-towns are among the region chief's attractions and the most popular towns are naturally the most expensive- Orvieto, Spoleto, Todi, Perugia, Assisi. You could save money by going for one of Umbria's less known, but equally stunning, Medieval gems, such us Montefalco, Spello, Santa Maria Tiberina, Pietralunga etc. For buyers who are hoping to offer holiday rentals, the whole Umbria remains one of Italy's overall best bets for rental interest. You might resonably expect to garner more than 1000 euros per week for a cottage with pool in high season. Umbria shows little sign of waning in terms of its visitors appeal and holiday bookings have remained largely unaffected since the onset of the recession. People still want to come here as much as ever!

Monday 22 August 2011

I Vinarelli di Torgiano - painting with wine in Torgiano

Last night in Torgiano in Umbria, dozens of artists painted with watercolours diluted in wine, after a pleasant dinner together at a long table in the centre of Torgiano. Torgiano is a beautiful town about 15 minutes from Perugia. This year's edition of the Vinarelli painting, will run from August 11th to 25th.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Castel Rigone concerts

Castel Rigone is hosting a series of concerts dedicated to young musicians entitled Festival Internazionale Giovani Concertisti. The performances take place on the historical piazza of Sant’Agostino. The musical agenda is under the watchful care of M° Giorgo Porzi and will include eleven concerts featuring various type of musical groups: trios and quartets, national and international orchestras with soloists of great renown. The beauty of the monuments and landscape, the summer weather and verdant nature all come together for an unforgettable musical event that is the pride of the Trasimeno. The orchestra of the F. Morlacchi Conservatory of Perugia will be among the performances not to be missed, and there will also be no lack of operatic music, so appreciated by the growing public of all ages and countries.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

The Night of the Shooting Stars (Night of the Feast of St. Lawrence or La notte di San Lorenzo)

In Italy there is a tradition celebrated every year August 10th and up to the dawn of 12th called the 'Saint Lawrence Night'. Legend has it that during this period of the month there is a strong shooting stars activity (Perseids) and everybody during these summer nights looks up to the sky waiting to see one falling. If you are so lucky to see a shooting star, you can make a wish as folklore says that wishes made when seen such a star come true.

Arts guide: exhibits in Italy

The following is a city-by-city guide to some of Italy's art exhibitions: AREZZO - Palazzo Vescovile: Giorgio Vasari, 'Santo E' Bello'; religious works; until December 30.

FLORENCE - Palazzo Pitti, Museo degli Argenti: 150 artworks from Kremlin Armoury; until September 11.

MILAN - Anish Kapoor, sculptures and installations at two venues: Rotonda until October 9 and Fabbrica del Vapore until January 8.

ROME - MAXXI: Chinese Architectural Landscapes; until October 23.

- Colosseum: Nero; until September 18.

- Palazzo Doria Pamphilj: 'Vanitas': Lotto, Caravaggio, Guercino in the Doria Pamphilj Collection; until September 26.

- Musei Capitolini: 'Portraits, The Many Faces Of Power', 150 Roman heads, busts, statues ranging from early terracotta works to deified images of imperial rulers; until September 25.

- MAXXI: Michelangelo Pistoletto, From One To Many, 100 works, 1956-1974; until August 15.

TURIN - Reggia di Venaria: La Bella Italia, celebrating 150th anniversary of Italian unity; 350 works tracing various ex-capital cities including Florence, Turin, Milan, Genoa and Naples as well as Rome; plus art giants like Giotto, Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian, Tiepolo, Canova, Bernini; until September 11.

VENICE - Biennale showgrounds: 54th edition of international contemporary art show; 83 artists, until November 27.

- Museo Correr: Julian Schnabel, 40 works, until November 27.

- Punto della Dogana, Francois Pinault Foundation: 'Praise of Doubt', 60 works by 20 contemporary giants including Maurizio Cattelan, Jeff Koons, Jeff Bauman, Adel Abdessemed, Marcel Broodthaers, Dan Flavin, Thomas Schutte and Charles Ray; until December 31, 2012

Friday 5 August 2011

David Cameron rents luxury 18th century villa in Tuscany for family holiday

The Prime Minister has rented an 18th century villa near the town of Mercatale Valdarno in the Chianti region, where his neighbours will include the pop star Sting.

Mr Cameron, his wife and three children will share their holiday with two other families. They are paying £5,800 as their share of the 11,000 euro a week villa.
The estate is owned by winemaker Lucia Sanjust Bazzocchi, who with her son Luca produces Sangiovese and Merlot grapes from 77 acres of vines.
The rural area of Italy became known as “Chiantishire” after the regular visits by New Labour acolytes and Mr Blair, who was nicknamed “Tuscan Tony”.
Mr Blair drew criticism after accepting free stays in villas owned by a Tuscan aristocrat and his former ministerial colleague, Geoffrey Robinson.

Downing Street aides were yesterday keen to stress that Mr Cameron was paying the market rate for his villa. He is expected to travel to Italy via a budget airline in the coming days.
The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the Camerons are staying on the “Petrolo estate” in a villa which comes with a swimming pool, tennis court and billiards room. There is also a vineyard and olive mill at the property and several lakes in which guests are invited to fish.

According to the villa’s website: “The Petrolo Estate is situated among the green olive groves, active vineyards and beautiful oak woods. A place full of charm and history.
“The estate has as its landmark, the Tower of Galatrona. The Tower's foundation dates back to the Etruscan and Romans and the Estate's best wines are named ‘Torrione’ (big tower) and ‘Galatrona’.”
The villa was built between 1700 and 1750 and is surrounded by a large private garden.
The interior is full of antiques and the walls decorated with both old masters and modern paintings. There is also an imposing chandelier in the property.
The estate is located in the Arno Valley, close to the town of Figline Valdarno, where Sting and his wife Trudie Styler own a luxurious former hunting lodge and an estate that produces organic wine, olive oil, salami and honey.

It is on the opposite side of the Chianti region from Cusona, where Mr Blair and his family spent summer holidays as guests of Prince Girolamo Strozzi and his wife, Italian aristocrats.
The fortnight stay in Tuscany is the first proper foreign holiday the Camerons will enjoy since the election more than a year ago. Last year, they holidayed in Cornwall as Samantha Cameron was heavily pregnant.
She gave birth early to the couple’s fourth child, Florence, during the holiday who was given the middle name Endellion, after the village St Endellion where they were staying. The family are expected to return to Cornwall for a second holiday at some point this summer.
The Camerons were forced to abandon another holiday to Thailand last Christmas because of violent uprisings in thecountry.

The Prime Minister treated his wife to a weekend in Granada in April to celebrate her 40th birthday, but the trip was largely overshadowed after the couple were followed by Spanish paparazzi.
Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, is understood to have already left Britain for a holiday in Spain with his family. There is expected to be a period in August when both the most senior figures in the Government are on holiday, and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, will effectively be in charge.
However, Mr Cameron has repeatedly stressed that he is still running the country wherever he is in the world.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Sun at last!

Judith talks about the beautiful Umbrian countryside. She and her husband bought a little house in Castel Rigone, while they are building their own villa on the Tuscan border.

"Well, here I am in Umbria, the green heart of Italy and, as expected there are wall to wall blue skies, burning heat, warm welcomes and stunning views, which are, of course very green!  The house wasn't as bad as expected . A couple of hours did the trick this time and none of it too laborious - think it's getting used to us now and we are becoming friends! We are in a small medieval town called Castel Rigone. Somewhere we used to escape to in the afternoons to get away from the heat when I came with my parents many years ago. It was rather silly then yesterday to do the opposite and leave our hilltop paradise to go down to a lakeside town.. 32C in the shade and not much of that! Amazing how one forgets just how hot it can be!  I did persevere and had a good wander up into the beautiful, quaint streets of the old town of Passignano, think the gym must have done me quite a lot of good as all the steps didnt seem to bad! This was followed by a gentle stroll along the lake side where the gentle breeze was very welcome and then my first gelato of the summer.  Lago Trasimeno is one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in this part of Italy. Many interesting and lovely, un-spoilt towns nestle along its borders, Castiglione del lago, San Feliciano, Torricella, S, Angelo. Passignano is one of the largest and this year was voted the best town to live in out of the whole of Italy! Guess it does have everything - an enchanting older town, beautiful lake, parks, quaint little restaurants,  a ferry linking it with other lakeside towns and the two main islands and an accessible railway station.  It also boast one of the best gelato bars in the area - hence the picture!  My favouites are tiramisu and caramella together. Today is the start of our town annual festa dei barbari - Festival of the barabarians!  take part every year and keep coming back for more!" Judith B.

Festival delle Nazioni (Festival of Nations) - Città di Castello – August

Each year the Città di Castello chooses a different country as a theme and the town’s shop fronts enter into a competition to show off that year’s theme. Performers, choirs and orchestras from the designated country are invited throughout the summer to perform and show off their relative talents. Previous years have seen Città di Castello full of the sounds from Spain, Israel, Britain and Russia all giving concerts, many of them free, in the piazzas and theatres around the town. This festival of chamber music runs from 23rd August to 4th September. http://www.festivalnazioni.com/en/