Expanding Italian economy means big things for small businesses

Expanding Italian economy means big things for small businesses

  • Italian economy to grow by 0.7% in 2015 and 1.5% in 2016 (Bank of Italy)
  • Knock-on effect of expansion on small businesses being felt across the country
  • Newest luxury holiday home from Appassionata already impacting positively on local businesses

The expanding Italian economy is great news for almost all businesses (with the possible exception of debt collectors!), but it is on smaller businesses that its impact is being felt the most. Micro businesses and artisanal suppliers in rural areas, away from the opportunities created by big cities and mass tourism, have struggled over the past several years. Many of them are run by just one or two family members, with skills passed down to them through the generations.

The Bank of Italy has forecast 0.7% GDP growth for the country this year and 1.5% for 2016 and a fall of unemployment by 1.5% by the end of 2016. But these headline numbers mask the true tale of Italy’s small businesses. It is in areas like Le Marche where the impact of the expanding economy can best be seen at grass roots level.

In the charming Le Marche hilltop town of Petritoli, local resident Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs is an excellent example of the impact that economic changes are having. Dawn runs fractional ownership holiday home company Appassionata with her husband, daughter and son-in-law. The company’s third fractional ownership project, the luxurious Casa Tre Archi, has proven popular with buyers looking for a taste of the ‘real Italy,’ rather than the touristy offerings of more commercialised destinations.

Now, the Appassionata team has just taken on its fourth project – the renovation and transformation of a house in the pretty hamlet of Patrignone. The decision has a knock-on effect for businesses in the local area. Builders and craftsmen have already been engaged to undertake some of the larger elements of the restoration and the scaffolding has already gone up.

As work progresses, Dawn will also commission a number of bespoke pieces to be manufactured by her key supply team – a collection of local craftsmen working from sheds and garages who alone or in pairs are producing some of the finest quality goods imaginable. Custom designed, exquisite chandeliers and slim, elegant wrought iron stair rails are two of the products that will be commissioned for the new holiday home. The lights are made by self-taught artisan Alfio Giuffrida, who spent his childhood playing at the feet of his mother and grandmother while they made lampshades. The stair rails come from the Brinci family, whose tiny blacksmith business has been running for more than 200 years. Other bespoke items will include pottery from brother and sister team Annamaria and Emanule Bozzi, with Grandfather Mario sitting at the pottery wheel to ensure the younger generations keep tradition alive.

Nor does the impact of the economic progress stop there. Appassionata’s fractional model means that owners get five weeks’ exclusive use of the property per year. With ten sets of owners each staying for a week, five times per year, that means 50 sets of flights, hire cars, spending money and so forth. The positive impact is felt by restaurants, cafés, local markets… all those small businesses that serve to give an area its character and its history. While the headlines talk about forecasts and percentages, this is the human way in which Italy is really growing – one tiny business at a time.

Casa Tre Archi has shares are available from £75,000. For more information visit www.appassionata.com or contact the Appassionata team on +39 33154 13225.