Thursday 13 December 2012

O Come All Ye Faithful!

For the past few weeks we have been organising our Christmas Carol Service and tomorrow is the big day!

The wine is mulling, the pies mincing and voices are being primed for all the old favourites. Everyone is welcome and if you don't care for singing the Oratorio of San Crescentino in Morra (PG) is well worth a visit even though the flagellation of christ isn't exactly festive!  

Property site in TWELVE languages!

Our new website is now in twelve languages.
If you are looking to purchase property in Italy, a villa in Tuscany or a house in Umbria this is the place to be!

Friday 17 August 2012

Cooling off in Umbria

Looking for a beautiful farmhouse with a beautiful pool to cool off in this sultry summer in Umbria? This new listing, Villa Bellona - Preggio , is an impeccably restored farmhouse for sale in Umbria, with stunning views towards Preggio and situated between Lake Trasimeno and the famous Niccone Valley, a real hot spot for Umbrian real estate.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Castle for sale in Umbria

Have you ever wanted to own your own castle in Italy? Today we saw a stunningly located ruin of a 13th century castle for sale in Umbria, built in an octagonal shape, with 360° views over the Tevere Valley all the way to Assisi and Monte Subasio. The castle has 10m high walls and various buildings to be recuperated, including a 400sqm farmhouse and 2 churches. The castle has been ruin for over a century, and was further damaged by Allied bombing during WWII, when the position would have afforded a remarkable view of activity in the valley below. The sale comes with the whole hilltop and is has a private access road. A grand Italian property restoration waiting to happen!

Author: Sonia Tardetti

Friday 27 July 2012

Going Local at Festivals

A great way to get a feel for Umbria and Tuscany and their people is to attend a local sagra (festival). During the summer there's one taking place nearly every weekend in some small towns or villages, usually with a food theme, such as Sagra dei funghi (mushroom festival) or Sagra della zuppa (soup festival). Held in the evening, the events dish out plenty to eat and drink, and there's usually dancing, sometimes with live music. Old-school ballroom dance moves are the norm- you're likely to see couples fox-trotting or doing the tango. These are village affairs and just a few people speak English. There are no numbers to call for information. The festivals are advertised only by crudely printed signs on the side of the road. Attending a sagra is a unique opportunity to experience the Italian culture.

Author: Sonia Tardetti Piergiovanni

Trasimeno Blues 2012

I had a wonderful evening last night. One of those typically spontaneous and unplanned experiences that happen so often in Umbia. I decided to have dinner at La Cantina in Castiglione del Lago – one of my old favourite restaurants by the Lake Trasimeno. Ate in the garden overlooking the lake. Food was, as always, excellent and I got a lovely welcome. Castiglione is magical at night... bathed in golden light, pleasantly lively and with music everywhere. I decided to go for a walk after the meal and wandered down to the Rocca where I discovered a night market and Trasimeno Blues band in full swing. There was a wonderful atmosphere. Where else would one find stalls full of everything – from colourful dresses and scarves to exquisite hand crafted silver jewellery nestling amongst majestic olive trees? The colour combinations were just amazing! During the Trasimeno Blues Festival there are different bands playing in different venues all week, so I will definitely be dropping in to some more concerts.

Author: Sonia Tardetti

Monday 23 July 2012

Property in Tuscany

You might want to consider the romantic sunsets and Renaissance architecture of property in Tuscany. With its charming medieval hill towns and fantastic capital Florence, Tuscany has long been a favourite spot for those looking to invest in property in Italy. From the tiniest hamlet to the magnificent Florence property in Tuscany is diverse and plentiful. With its quiet lanes, cypress trees and creamy coloured villas; property in Tuscany never ceases to enchant. The varied landscape of Tuscany and property in Tuscany is typical of what Italy has to offer.

Friday 20 July 2012

Luxury villas for sale in Italy

Choosing your luxury villa in Italy for sale is just the beginning of an adventure and you will want it to be exactly as you have imagined. Choosing the right house to buy that suits your individual needs can be difficult and time-consuming. Abode Srl can help you find the perfect property for sale for you in Umbria or in Tuscany. We represent the most beautiful houses in Tuscany: a refined selection of exceptional and exclusive luxury villas with swimming pools, tastefully converted, farm holidays and cottages, attractive apartments in Cortona or casali in Umbria. We propose only high quality houses for sale in Italy, extraordinary luxury estates, from large group houses to small intimate cottages all personally chosen by our team. Almost all of our Tuscan or Umbrian villas and farmhouses have private pools perfect for relaxing in the lovely countryside. When looking to purchase in Italy one of your first choices will be to select a property agent. Whether you are looking for a rental property or one to purchase then you will undoubtedly wish to select a company that will best suit your needs. There are a large number of estate agents, but we are a registered Italian Realtor and therefore conform to the guidelines of the industry's governing body Fiaip. We are fully insured, a clear sign you are dealing with a highly reputable and professional company. Our website shows only a sample selection of the property we have for sale in Tuscany and Umbria, but we are adding new luxury villas daily. Our team have over 20 years experience in the Italian property market. If you are looking for a house to buy come to us and we will help you achieve your goals.

Luxury villa rentals in Italy

Abode Srl is a luxury villa provider. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with a quality product, excellent service, and great value.

Abode Srl represents villas in Italy (abode all Umbria and Tuscany). Our villas range in size from 1-10 bedrooms and most are equipped with pools, maids and chefs. We have villas for every occasion: weddings, vow renewal parties, romantic getaways, golf, tennis, and spa retreats, corporate outings, family reunions, and trips with special friends. Wherever your getaway brings you, Abode Srl specialists will provide you with a luxury villa and will take care of all of your accommodations and special requests. Many villas are located near restaurants, bars, tennis courts, golf courses, and historic sites.

Our professional villa specialists have an intimate knowledge of not only the destination, but the villas themselves. Our agents will help you select the right villa for you. Our expert team of concierge will help you prepare for your vacation by arranging for items such as car rentals, grocery pre-stocking, and chef services; they will make sure all the details are set for your arrival. Customer satisfaction is our top priority. We aim to provide great value and service, allowing you to relax and enjoy your holiday villa.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Italy real estate, homes and villas for sale - An introduction to buying Italian property

Whether you're looking to purchase a villa in Tuscany, a farmhouse in Umbria … or you're just browsing for real estate in Italy, this is the place to start
One of Italy’s greatest assets is its unspoilt countryside. Especially for those living urban lives elsewhere, rural Italy seems a kind of earthly paradise, and it is no surprise that country homes are among the most popular property types sought by foreign buyers.

Italian countryside is genuinely special. Much of it consists of gentle rolling hillscapes with backdrops of distant mountains. The green and fertile land is enlivened by swathes of wildflowers in spring, by sun-blonded grasses in summer and by burnished leaves in autumn. Most appealingly, because Italy is not a nation in which most people live in big cities, its countryside is liberally sprinkled with charming old villages and tiny towns. These appear at pleasingly intervals on the landscape, their pretty rooftops and belltowers adding extra decoration to wide rural vistas. Inside, these friendly villages have warm communities, useful shops and entertaining festivals. Thus when you buy a home in the Italian countryside, you are not completely cut off from civilisation. You have all the space and quiet you could wish for, but also useful facilities, services and oppurtunities to enjoy the social life never too far away.

Rural Italian properties tend to be much cheaper than homes situated in a city or right on the coast. There are exceptions to this, the chief example being beautiful central Tuscany, where you’d be very lucky to find a farmhouse for less than €500,000. The similarly lovely countryside of Umbria or Le Marche usually presents rather better value for money. 
Naturally, features plenty of interesting properties in all these places. And remember, in almost all of Italy’s regions, the further inland you go, the lower the property prices. Buy somewhere within ten miles of the sea and you can make good savings AND still have easy access to the delights of the coast!

Before you begin your property search, it’s very useful to decide whether you want to buy a tumbledown old building needing restoration work, a newly-built property (you can choose one built in a traditional style if you wish), or an older home that someone else has already lovingly restored. The advantages of restoring yourself are that you can impose exactly your own taste on the fabric of the building, and, in many cases, end up with a house whose ultimate monetary value is more than what you paid for the original plus the building work. The disadvantages, of course, are the large amounts of time and organising which restoration projects can sometimes take!

Simply, if you crave a home in the Italian countryside, there are many ways to do it. Think hard about exactly what you want, then go for it!

Friday 13 July 2012

Agriturismo for sale in Umbria

Niccone Valley Umbria Agriturismo for sale. In an open and sunny position with lovely restaurant.

The restaurants at Calagrana

The restaurant at Calagrana is set in one of the two restored stone farm buildings that date back to the late 19th century. It seats an intimate 30 people.

In the restaurant, chef Alberto offers traditional Umbrian cuisine and forgotten local dishes covering the past hundred years, all recreated with a personal touch. Alberto began his chef training at the age of 14 in Milan upon completion of this he whent on to work in Paris, Germany and London. Working in some of the top restaurants in London he then decided to open his own restaurant in Battersea south London with Ely.

The restaurant offers a warm and simple setting with original features creating a wonderful environment in which to dine and spend long pleasant evenings. It has become the key meeting point for our guests, where you can come together and taste the wine and delicacies of the region, or simply mingle over an aperitif.

Outside the restaurant is the veranda offering views over the swimming pool and the spectacular valley of Niccone. It is a lovely place to spend the long summer evenings.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Property Sales

We are a leading professional property sales company with a bi-lingual team, who are not only dedicated to finding your ideal home in Italy but also to supporting you throughout the Italian purchase process.

Abode offers property for sale and for rent in Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche.

Please search our Italian property database for a selection of properties on the market. We do have access to a wider selection of properties, so please do complete our enquiry form in order for us to contact you. Our tailored service also provides you with additional support and will keep you updated on new properties coming onto the market.

Monday 4 June 2012

Property investment opportunities 'exist in Italy'

Investors who know where to look will still be able to find favourable opportunities to put their money into Italian real estate.

Speaking to Financial News, head of property fund management at Schroders Neil Turner highlighted retail assets in the north of the country as one area to watch, adding his firm is "very happy" to consider investing in Italy's property sector at present.

"I think there has been a little bit of re-pricing of real estate, perhaps not as much as everyone on the buyside would have liked, but Italy is a really interesting one," he told the publication.

Mr Turner and his colleague at Schroders Mark Callendar recently came up with some advice for those considering investing in European property markets.

The experts acknowledged caution is necessary when putting money into peripheral economies, like Italy, but the pair stressed certain sectors - like northern Italy's retail industry - are worth looking into due to their "fundamental attractions". A lack of supply of modern retail premises and wealthy households were cited as two reasons why this region of the country offers opportunities.

Monday 28 May 2012

Italian Property Market Predictions for 2012

This week we talk to Italian Property expert, Linda Travella, to understand what to expect in the Italian property market in 2012.

I see the market for buying property in Italy staying buoyant for the first 2 quarters of 2012. We already have clients booking to view property for sale in Italy, in January, which is something that does not happen every year, as it is normally a quiet month. The last quarter of 2011 is the busiest it has been for 4 years with a surprising amount of enquires and sales of Italian property. These are not all coming from the UK but from an international clientele, including clients from Russia, Canada, USA, Norway, Switzerland etc. The most buoyant market is from €350.000 to €500.000 and then €750.000 upwards, with various clients in the bracket over €1.000.000.

Linda Travella: In general clients are realizing that they will receive less income by putting their savings in the bank or pensions and have seen over the years that by investing in the right type of real estate in Italy they can obtain rental income whilst using the property themselves. We suggest that to obtain a reasonable capital return, clients keep their Italian property for 3 years but 5 years would be optimum as there is no capital gains tax in Italy after 5 years.

I believe that the first quarter of 2012 will show the same sort of levels of interest as the last quarter of 2011 in Italy, save major economic worldwide issues. I am finding that UK clients that have been interested and viewed in the past are returning to purchase as the sterling is stronger against the Euro. If this continues in 2012 I feel that more UK clients may return in the middle and lower price bracket but I see the higher end of the market continuing to fare the best with UK and international clientele.

Other overseas markets

There is a very mix bag of markets at the moment with clients looking for bargains in Spain and finding them, and the American market seeing an improvement. France is fairly quiet with some good buys to be found on the Coté d’Azur. If you are feeling brave you could try Greece whilst Turkey has seen a downturn in the last 3 years which has not yet recovered.

Thursday 12 April 2012

The Villa of the Monsters in Bagheria

Bagheria, once the playground of rich aristocrats from Palermo, hides a fantastical secret. At the heart of the urban sprawl - amidst traffic chaos, unremarkable modern tenements and the neon facades of twenty first century commerce - lies the Villa Palagonia. From the entrance gate, the only clue to its peculiar existence is the pair of bizarre stone guardians leering at the unwary passer-by.
This most unusual of Sicilian villas was built in 1715 for the fifth Prince of Palagonia, Don Ferdinando Gravina. The beautiful baroque summer residence owes its notoriety to the Prince’s grandson, Francesco Ferdinando, who commissioned the sculptures and ornate decoration. The gruesome-twosome at the entrance are only a hint of what lies beyond. Having decided to ignore their mocking stare, we passed through the flower-covered gate house and strolled the gravel drive towards the villa’s elegant curves. Aware of an uncanny sensation of being watched, we turned to confront the full menagerie. What bitter phantoms of the mind could have given birth to such a panoply of characters?

Mythology and reality clash to produce disfigured hybrids: a hunched-back gnome grimaces towards a scowling cherub; a periwigged aristocrat bids music from a courtier; a horned dragon with a human face watches as a young noble dances on the head of a gargoyle. The statues line the perimeter wall, but the passage of time has depleted the original number, thought to be over six hundred in total. Theories abound as to why the seventh Prince felt compelled to populate his garden with so many grotesque caricatures.
Francesco Ferdinando may have been railing against Mother Nature who had not blessed him with Hollywood looks. It seems his wife found solace in the arms of more than one lover and the rumour spread that each new sculpture was born of jealousy; a satirical jibe from the cuckolded husband. Prince Gravina has also been portrayed as an eccentric loner obsessed with esoteric pursuits, which would account for some of the more obscure ancient Eastern references in the sculpture. The German writer, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, was convinced the answer to our conundrum lay in madness – a mind that gave free rein to a passion for deformity.

Much of the villa’s legendary fame comes from the accounts of travellers such as Goethe. His classical soul was very scathing of the overwrought sculpture and ornamentation. Patrick Brydone, an English contemporary, was more tolerant of the Prince’s fevered imagination: ‘… a man of immense fortune, who has devoted his whole life to the study of monsters and chimeras, greater and more ridiculous than ever entered into the imagination of the wildest writers of romance or knight errantry.’
Henry Swinburne, the eighteenth century travel writer, was one of the first to note how the softness of the stone would see the Prince’s legacy gradually erode into dust – a fate he was not inclined to lament: ‘I was in a hurry to leave this world of monsters, which almost made me giddy.’ Our modern perspective, saturated with imagery, is more inclined to celebrate the unusual and welcome anyone brave enough to step off the well-trodden path.

During the Prince’s life-time and in the years following, the local women were afraid to look the statues in the eye, fearful that their glance would have unfortunate consequences for any unborn offspring. All deformities at birth were blamed on the evil influence of Francesco’s gargoyles. Prior to Patrick Brydone’s visit, the local government had even given serious consideration to demolishing the statues but, as the writer points out, Gravina was thought to be so inoffensive and charitable that such an action would have broken his heart.
The curse was to strike again many years later in 1948 when the carabinieri were pursuing men associated with the bandit Salvatore Giuliano. Shots were fired into the dark shadows of the Villa’s garden where the men were hiding; daylight revealed that the five-eyed goblin at the entrance was glowering down at the dead body of a policeman.

Leaving behind the statues along the perimeter, we passed a stone bench at the foot of the grand staircase leading to the main entrance of the house. Prince Gravina, forever frozen in time, stares out blankly from the frieze above the bench - a location much favoured by the Magnum photographer, Ferdinando Scianna, whose most famous image of the Argentinean writer, Jorge Luis Borges, was taken on this very spot.
The stairs flank the archway that gave access to horse and carriages, arriving for one of the many balls hosted by the Prince’s wife. They sweep elegantly to a balustraded platform in front of the grandiose doors. A bocca della verità (mouth of truth) gapes forebodingly, hungry to be fed with the anonymous misdemeanours of the local aristocracy!

The vestibule is decorated with trompe l’oeil frescoes depicting the Labours of Hercules and the doorway to the spectacular mirrored ballroom has a sobering message for all who enter, which translates as: See your reflection in the glass and contemplate in its magnificent splendour the image of mortal fragility that it expresses.
Sadly, the glass has been so mottled with age that it’s difficult to contemplate any reflection – the true fragility of time. The ceiling mirrors, however, are still intact and the magnificent marbled walls and floors make it a short leap of the imagination to conjure up the decadent delights of the past. We can even see Francesco Ferdinando huddled in a corner, with a jealous eye on those more favoured in looks and personality. It is still rumoured that his eccentric decoration extended to the furniture; plushly covered seats hid spikes to surprise the unwary.

Hindsight could hail the villa as a surrealist masterpiece worthy of the likes of Dalì. One famous local artist, Renato Guttuso, now buried in the grounds of his own museum in Bagheria, took inspiration from the Prince’s sculptures. Best known in the United Kingdom as the illustrator of Elizabeth David’s Italian Food, he painted one of the archways bedecked with statues looking down on the equally prickly pads of an Indian Fig. His painting is a lasting testimony to our enduring fascination with Francesco Gravina’s imagination.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Casa dei Fiori

We've sold this wonderful house on the edge of the Reschio Estate

Friday 23 March 2012

Italian property and real estate types

If you’re after Italy property and real estate for sale, then get used to a whole new language. You’ll know what a villa is, and you can work out appartamento, but what about the bilocale, casetta or terratetto? A complete glossary of types of Italian property and real estate.
Italy real estate

If you’re British you’ll be used to buying property in certain sizes — detached, semi-detached, terraced or a flat. American readers will be used to purchasing their real estate in the shape of apartments, condos, villas or duplexes. But you’re buying Italy real estate so you’d best acquaint yourself with a whole new vocabulary — we wouldn’t want you purchasing a stable when you meant to purchase a mansion.

An appartamento is an apartment of course, or a flat to UK readers, while a bilocale is an apartment with two rooms. Maybe you want to buy a regular house in Italy? Casa is the generic term for a house or home, with a casetta a small house, not to be confused with either a casale (a farmhouse or small hamlet) or a castello (castle). Sub-genres of the casa include the casa bifamiliare (known to Brits as a semi or as a duplex to Americans, and the casa canonica (a vicarage or minister's house — unsurprisingly often found next to the local church). Terratetto, meanwhile, means the owner owns the entire buildings, from 'roof to ground' and it may be a semi-detached, detached or terraced house.

A farmhouse in Italy

Don’t confuse the casa canonica with a casa colonica. This latter is a farmhouse, while a casa padronale is the main house on an estate, the old squire’s house. Those new to buying Italian property shouldn’t be misled by the phrase ‘palazzo’ as this can be applied to almost any large apartment building or block of flats, as well as it meaning a large town house or mansion.

Italian real estate agents are as enthusiastic as any at talking up their property for sale. That doesn’t mean you won’t want to buy an attico (attic), a mansarda (loft conversion) or a monolocale (a studio flat … or bedsit as we used to call them); just be aware that you’re not purchasing a villetta a schiera (terraced house). While you’re negotiating on your property for sale in Italy, by the way, find out if a box is included … that’s a prefabricated garage. You may also have a torre (tower) attached to your dwelling.
Property for sale in Italian countryside

And as you’ll very likely be looking at buying real estate in the Italian countryside, there’s a whole new glossary to grasp. A farmhouse may also be referred to as a cascina, while a house in the country will be dubbed a casolare. The farm may be a fattoria (working farm) or increasingly an agriturismo (a working farm offering accommodation).

Depending on the condition of Italian property for sale it may be listed as a rustico (rural property, usually in need of modernisation) or a rudere (an abandoned ruin). Farms vary in size of course, from the masseria (a huge estate, usually in southern Italy) to a podere (a smallholding that may keep you in meat, fruit and vegetables). Other regional variations include the maso (a farm in the far northern and sparsely populated Alto-Adige region) down to the trulli … the startling cone-topped stone dwellings in Puglia in the south. Trulli for sale are becoming increasingly sought after.

Farm for sale in Italy

If you’re buying an Italian farm, by the way, you may well find yourself the proud owner of a stalla (stable), a fienile (hay barn), capanna (barn) or a dependence (outhouse). An annesso meanwhile is the annex. All, of course, may be ripe for conversion to accommodation, though a porciliaia or porcile likely not … that’s the pigsty.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

The Enoteca Wine Club in Umbria

A great range of wines combined with a friendly atmosphere. Patrick and his wife are always welcoming and make their customers feel at home straight away. A hidden gem away from the hustle and bustle of the touristic areas. The Enoteca Wine Club is located in the little town of Umbertide in Umbria. "Patrick Piccioni is the sommelier and host. Antonella rules the tiny kitchen, and sometimes their son will help out serving dinners. Absolutely a family affair." (Judith Klinger).

Monday 19 March 2012

Italy’s Austerity Measures mean tax increases for property owners

Wealth Tax on Real Estate Property Located in Italy:

Rules on wealth tax due by owners of real estate properties located in Italy have been significantly changed. The new tax is called “IMU” (the Italian acronym for “Unified Municipal Tax”) and will replace the old “ICI” tax (the Italian acronym for the “Municipal tax on real estate”) starting from January 2012. The basic rate for IMU has been set at 0.76 percent per year on the value of the real estate. The taxable value for IMU is calculated based on the cadastrial values – i.e., standard values – attributed to each property in the official register. Furthermore, wealth tax is now due also on the individual’s main abode. This tax had been abolished by the former Berlusconi government, but has now been reintroduced. For real estate owned as one’s main abode, local municipalities can reduce the wealth tax rate to 0.4 percent, and allow a flat deduction up to EUR 200.

Wealth Tax on Real Estate Property Located Abroad:

Starting from 2011, for any real estate properties held abroad by Italian fiscal residents, the government is introducing a new wealth tax of 0.76 percent per year on the value of the property. Taxable value is equal to the purchase cost, as noted in the purchase contract, or, in the absence of this, is equal to the fair market value of the property. Taxpayers will be able to claim a tax credit equal to the amount of wealth tax already paid in the country where the property is located.

Monday 12 March 2012

La Festa della Donna in Italy

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day, a festival which will be celebrated around the world. Here in Italy this very popular festival is called  La Festa della Donna. In 1946 the Unione Donna Italiana (Italian Woman Union), whilst preparing for the celebrations of the 8th of March, decided to choose an object to symbolise the event. The choice fell on the bright yellow flowers of the Mimosa, which is in blossom at the beginning of March, and since then this plant has become the symbol of La Festa della Donna. The success of the Mimosa as an emblem of Women’s Day is due not only to the fact that it blossoms at this time of year, but also to its bright yellow color, a symbol of vitality and joy which represents the passage from death to life. In addition to this, despite its fragile look the Mimosa is, appropriately, very resilient! It has become a tradition that men will buy small sprigs of Mimosa which they will then offer to women, and part of the proceedings from the sale go to support projects related to women’s causes, such as shelters for women subject to violence, breast cancer research, or co-operatives run by women in Third World Countries. The Mimosa belongs to the Acacia family and the most popular variety grown here in Italy is the Acacia Dealbatawhich, given the right conditions, grows to a height of around 20-30 feet. Originally from Tasmania, this beautiful tree has yellow flowers which are very small and bunched together in bright fluffy pompons.  The majority of Mimosa trees are cultivated in Liguria on the terraces facing the sea. Here the climate is ideal for these plants which, in order to grow well, should never be subjected to temperatures below zero and must be sheltered from the wind. The Coldiretti (Farmers' Union) claim that the Mimosa industry is beneficial to the environment for two reasons: firstly the trees are cultivated according to eco-sustainable principles, and secondly they are grown on agricultural land that would otherwise be abandoned and subject to erosion. To keep your Festa della Donna Mimosa flowers fresh for longer you should cut off the lower leaves with a sharp knife and put them in vase with tepid, not cold, water to which you have added a couple of drops of lemon juice. It’s important to keep the flowers in full light but well away from any heating source as the Mimosa doesn’t like a dry environment. Finally, I’d like to share with you a few words that I’ve just read on an Italian website dedicated to Festa della Donna,which were written by someone called Giuseppe: Senza le donne finirebbe il mondo: mancherebbe la dolcezza, mancherebbe l’amore di una mamma, mancherebbe il sorriso di una fanciulla, mancherebbe la voglia di vivere… Grazie Donna! Auguri Donna! (Without women the world would end: there wouldn’t be sweetness, there wouldn’t be the love of a mother, there wouldn’t be the smile of a girl, there wouldn’t be the desire to live… Thank you Woman! Best wishes!)

Thursday 1 March 2012

Monte Castello di Vibio: The smallest theatre in the world

Monte Castello di Vibio clearly retains the look of a medieval castrum. It stands on a hill, which offers a unique view of the hills of Umbria and the Tiber valley. From afar, despite some newly-built houses and farmhouses, the village, topped by the colour of the antique red roof tiles of its beautiful stone dwellings, is surrounded by green countryside. Flashes of light, shadows, and that of twilight strike the visitor while walking along its narrow streets, going around the fourteenth century Tower of Porta di Maggio, the medieval well-cistern, the portal of its former sixteenth century monastery; and all the other details that capture the visitors attention. Inside the Church of Santa Illuminata, once a seventeenth century oratory, now with nineteenth century modifications, is a miraculous crucifix, already described in a Gothic manuscript, that is venerated . Talking about miracles, we would like to mention the nineteenth-century parish church dedicated to San Filippo and Giacomo, which preserves the statue of the Madonna dei Portenti, so called for its miraculous properties that were recognized by the inhabitants. The square of the church, dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II, is like a balcony over Umbria. A region that almost seems designed and of which, at certain moments, you can hear the voice, a motherly voice, that alternates with the silence of land. Thanks to the presence of many ancient towers and Guelph merlons you can understand that the village was a papal fiefdom. The citizens of Monte Castello succeeded in building a theatre at the beginning of the nineteenth century, which in 2008 celebrated its bicentenary. Teatro della Concordia was designed during the French post revolutionary period and reflects the soul of the village in miniature. It is an intimate place, a masterpiece frescoed in 1892 by the young painter Luigi Agretti (1877-1937), who was spending a holiday in Monte Castello; he was the son of Caesar from Perugia, already the author of the decorations of the drop-curtain and the backdrop of theatre. In addition to the vaulted ceiling and the foyer of the theatre, Luigi Agretti also painted the apse the Church of the Santa Illuminata. You can not leave Monte Castello without a visit to the beautiful hamlet of Doglio, placed even further up the wooded hill on the road to Todi. Doglio was a castle of the Ghibelline of Todi that that overlooked the Guelphs of Orvieto. There is a stone coat-of-arms with the eagle of Todi on the fourteenth-century Porta Fuje, from which you can enter the old village. You can also admire the wonders of a place that has remained intact over the centuries.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Umbrian villas

The Italian region of Umbria is often compared to better-known neighbor Tuscany, but this rich, quiet place offer distinctive charms. Umbria has a unique flavor you have to experience on its own, and luckily, Abode is here to enlighten travellers on its "don't miss" activities, from jazz to chocolate delights…

Abode's property manager Sonia Tardetti grew up in Perugia, the capital of the still-undiscovered region of Umbria. Our villas in Umbria resemble those in their more famous neighbor, Tuscany, but are definitely worth investigating for their own merits, says Sonia, who recommends these unique Umbrian activities to entice you to the green heart of Italy: Get groovy in Medieval Piazzas; The Umbria Jazz Festival, which takes place in July in the town of Perugia, and has grown over its 35-year history to become one of the world's biggest and most important.

Listen to artists such as B.B. King, James Brown and Wynton Marsalis play on a lovely summer evening in the square. It's an experience you won't soon forget. Get more information on the Umbria Jazz Festival. Forget Switzerland, for world-class chocolate with a distinct Italian flair head to Perugia in the month of October, when the town hosts the Eurochocolate show, attracting producers and connoisseurs from around the world. Of course, if you can't make it in October, you'll find the region's most famous product, Baci "kiss" chocolates made of hazelnut and wrapped in the distinctive blue foil and love note, year-round.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Castles, farmhouses and old properties can be restored to your exact requirements

Think of the word 'bespoke' in connection with Italy and a beautifully tailored suit cut from the finest Italian cloth would spring to mind. But now developers are extending the idea to property, tailoring homes to buyers' requirements.

Abode Srl, an Italian estate agency dealing with luxury villas in Umbria and Tuscany, with offices in the Niccone Valley (Umbria), offers a bespoke service to buyers investing in Italy. It takes note of the client's requirements during the buying process and offers post-sale services including property management, ranging from restoration advice to gardeners.

In Umbria, medieval castles, country estates and town houses can be tailored to suit large budgets. And if you thought this neck of the woods was second to Tuscany, then think again. More and more people are forsaking Chiantishire for the dramatic Umbrian landscapes. Umbria also offers extremely good access from the UK, since budget airlines fly directly to Perugia, and it is more affordable with respect to Tuscany.

In the case of Il Convento di San Paolo, a beautiful property that was once a convent, it was on the market for €1,150,000 and it has now been reduced to €790,000.

The Umbrian properties in question are dotted around the picturesque Todi, lovely Montone and historic Cortona (Umbria/Tuscany border), and some of them are in need of some restoration. This is good news for the buyers, as the houses and grounds can be accurately tailored from the outset.

Umbria offers many moderately priced properties that don't run into the millions!


We awoke to a blanket of snow covering the Umbrian hillsides this morning.
I love how the sparkling snow makes the surroundings beautiful and fresh. It reminds me of beginnings... and it is a great source of conversation around the bars! Umbrians sagely say 'Sotto la neve c'è il pane'. There really is bread under the snow, because it waters the soil that will soon produce wheat used to make breads. I like that!

My advice is to compensate with a lazy afternoon in front of a roaring fire, a hearty dinner: maybe handmade pasta with a ragù of cinghiale (wild boar sauce), and just perhaps before dinner, as the light fades a nice relaxing sauna in a lovely villa in Umbria.

 Here are two properties perfect to enjoy a snowy Umbrian winter.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Il Piatto di Sant'Antonio

This weekend I went to a very interesting festival in Assisi: Il Piatto di Sant'Antonio or Dish of St. Anthony. According to the story, St. Anthony saved horses from a vicious disease in the area around Santa Maria degli Angeli (near Assisi).

This event is celebrated in Santa Maria degli Angeli the Sunday closest to when it happened (January 17th). The feast starts with a procession which leaves the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli after a morning Mass. The members of the guild of Sant'Antonio, the Priori, carry the statue of the Saint through the streets followed by people with all types of animals on leashes, in boxes and even in their arms.

The procession ends at the entrance of the Basilica where the animals are blessed and bread is distributed. Afterwards, the people will have lunch in the local restaurants. A special meal is served: the Piatto di Sant'Antonio. This consists of pasta with a meat sauce, meatballs, sausages and some fruit, everything on one plate. The best part is that each participant is required to bring a dessert for their table. At the end there are so many desserts that everyone starts walking around exchanging desserts (and wine) with other tables.  Needless to say all this creates a very convivial atmosphere. Definitely an event to make one appreciate living in Italy!