Is Americans’ enduring romantic notion of Italy fact or fantasy?

Is Americans’ enduring romantic notion of Italy fact or fantasy?

  • US visitors make up 17.8% of tourist accommodation bookings in Europe (Eurostat)
  • Property enquiries in Le Marche, Italy, up 45% (
  • Le Marche offers the romance of traditional Italian life and values (Appassionata)

It’s a classic image – the sprawling, multi-generational Italian family all gathering around the dinner table outdoors in the sunshine to break bread together, with nothing but birdsong, olive trees and blue sky in the background. But is it the real deal in this day and age?

“Yes, absolutely!” laughs Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, owner of local fractional ownership business Appassionata. “Particularly in largely rural areas like Le Marche, where family life is still a core part of society’s values. Here, life is about good food and good company under the warmth of the sun.”

This is one reason that Italy is so enduringly popular with visitors from the US. According to Travelzoo, the country is the friendliest destination in Europe to visit. Meanwhile the Globus Time to Tour survey highlights how keen Americans are to find out if the real Italy is equal to their romantic notions, finding that 93% of people take holidays in order to experience the places they’ve only read about, including the culture and the food.

Indeed, the whole of Europe benefits from US visitors. According to Eurostat, visitors from the US make up 17.8% of tourist accommodation nights within the EU, the largest of any national group from outside Europe.

Nor is it just hotel accommodation that Americans are interested in today. According to Italian property portal, when it comes to the Le Marche region of Italy, buyers from the US account for 12.79% of requests for property, second only to those from the UK (20.83%). The figures are set against a backdrop of growing interest in Le Marche from all angles – January to September 2015 saw a 45% increase in the number of enquiries for property in the region from international home buyers, compared to the same period the year before.

“Le Marche is definitely becoming better known,” continues Appassionata’s Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs. “But it’s growing in popularity at a sustainable pace. Visitors are keen to share the secrets of this wonderful region, but are selective about doing so. It’s as though all those who arrive here are determined to keep it to themselves, avoiding the kind of mass tourism that has descended on parts of neighbouring Tuscany.”

Part of Le Marche’s charm is its blending of romantic landscapes with fresh, seasonal cuisine and the kind of charm that is hard to put into words but that speaks to you as you sip a rich, strong expresso while the local church bell tolls and a gaggle of happily chattering Italian children pass the tiny café in which you are sitting.

American romance novelist and TV soap opera writer Leah Laiman has sought to capture the essential spirit of Le Marche in her latest novel, Lingua Terra. The book tells the tale of an American woman who moves to Le Marche for a year after losing her job in New York. The romantic tale is interspersed with recipes from Michelin-starred Le Marche chef Lucio Pompili. It’s an unusual combination – a romance novel and a collection of local recipes – but one that somehow feels entirely right to those who are familiar with the region.

American buyers – and indeed those from elsewhere in the world – looking to own their own slice of Le Marche have been delighted to come across the Appassionata team. Family-run and passionate about Italy, Appassionata restores and renovates tumbledown Italian properties, turning them into stylish fractional ownership holiday homes. Buyers receive a one tenth share, entitling them to five weeks’ use of the property per year. Just like a property that is owned outright, the share can be passed down to the next generation as an inheritance. However, unlike with a fully owned second home, buyers don’t need to worry about cleaning and maintaining the property when they’re not using it as all of that is taken care of by the Appassionata team.

As Le Marche continues to enchant visitors from the US, demand is rising for Appassionata’s properties. Their third luxurious holiday home, Casa Tre Archi, has just three fractions still available, priced from £75,000. The three bedroom property fits perfectly with that enduring romantic image of Italy, from the traditional touches in the spacious interior to the large roof terrace that is perfect for al fresco family meals in the sunshine, against the backdrop of the gently rolling hills.

For more information visit or contact the Appassionata team on +39 33154 13225.