Indeed, The World Bank has confirmed the country’s popularity, ranking it the world’s fifth most popular tourist destination. So what is it that Italy has that captures the hearts of so many?
Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, British founder of fractional ownership company Appassionata, who moved to Italy with her family in 2007, explains the country’s draw: “There’s just something about Italy that delights the senses. The sights, the sounds, the scents… this country has so much to offer. My family and I have settled in Le Marche, nestled between the Sibillini Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. The beaches near us are incredible – within just 10 km we have Pedaso, Cupra Marittima and Grottamare, all of which are Blue Flag beaches, so perfect for days out with the family.”
The Blue Flag is awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) to beaches which meet strict criteria in relation to safety, water quality, environmental management and other factors. The Le Marche region has an impressive total of 29 Blue Flags, out of 248 in total across Italy. But, as Dawn comments, it’s not just the beach that attracts visitors to Italy,
“Spending time outdoors in the sunshine, engaging in healthy and fulfilling activities, is such a key part of Italian life. At Appassionata we have built this traditional lifestyle into the design of properties, to enable our owners to get the most out of their holidays here.”
Casa Giacomo and Casa Leopardi, the two dream homes that Dawn’s family have renovated, are set in five acres of land, which features olive groves, a lavender plantation, a truffle orchard and a 48 row vineyard. Owners – who have exclusive use of their chosen property for five weeks of every year – share in the estate’s organic produce and are welcomed to join in the seasonal activities related to nurturing and harvesting the crops. The vineyard, once mature, should produce around 5,000 bottles of wine per year, which will be shared between just 20 owners.
It is the availability of properties with vineyards – and the produce thereof – which has led to an interesting trend in Italy’s tourism figures. Based on the World Tourism Organization’s latest Yearbook of Tourism Statistics, Chinese visitors to Italy have increased dramatically in recent years, from just under 700,000 in 2009 to almost 1.3 million in 2011.
“The steep rise may well be linked to the growing fondness across China and Hong Kong for overseas homes with vineyards, which has led auction house Christie’s to launch Vineyards by Christie’s International Real Estate specifically for the Asian market,” adds Appassionata. “From Chinese tycoons investing in vineyards to British families snatching a few weeks in the sun, it seems as if Italy has something for everyone.”
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