Every year, our Move to Italy retreats are attended by people who dream of owning a home in Italy. With confusing online information regarding the rules around buying, renovating and living in Italy, we believe it’s essential that house-hunters discover Le Marche and see the potential it holds up-close.
Experts are on hand with presentations, homes are viewed that are tailored to everyone’s requirements and budgets, and it goes without saying that plenty of local food and wine is consumed!
We invited our guests to contribute to our diary of the event and share their own thoughts on the day to day activities that take place during the five day retreat.
Day 1 - Arrival, Aperitivi & Evening Meal
We arrive at the venue, Ramuse, and are pleased to meet our guests, many of whom we feel we already know as we’ve been communicating with them since the day they booked the event.
In attendance are clients from as far afield as South Africa, the USA and Northern Ireland – all with dreams of owning a home in Italy. Ramuse is a 17th century restored farmhouse agriturismo where most of the ingredients for the meals are grown and produced onsite and is situated in the hills of Le Marche, just a short drive from our home. With its stuccoed walls, cotto floors, wooden ceiling beams and cosy atmosphere, it gives visitors a great idea of what living in Italy can feel like.
David & I introduce ourselves over aperitivi which Ramuse’s owner, Paolo, has prepared for us. This evening it’s a local Prosecco along with bruschetta with cheese and salami which we enjoy in the rustic dining room.
Our real estate agents, Barbara and Gildo give a short presentation on what their real estate agency offers, including what makes them different to other agents, and they join us for a four course dinner with wine. Actually, plenty of wine, as two of our guests very kindly buy bottles for the table and share them with the group.
Dinner is four courses and includes a primo piatto of cold appetisers, a secondi of home-made cannelloni stuffed with ricotta and spinach, and a meat dish with fried zucchini and vegetables. Tiramisu, espresso and a local digestivo finish off this feast, and Paolo looks pleased when the group give him a round of applause at the end of the meal!
– SENECA, FRANCE
“On day 1, I was delighted to arrive at such a lovely and quaint agriturismo where we would be spending the next 4 days. I received a very warm welcome by Paolo, followed by David and Gary at dinnertime when the retreat commenced.
Everyone was so friendly and the food was wonderful (all totally fresh, from-scratch, and delicious!).
No time was wasted as we learned a great deal even the first evening throughout dinner and the first presentation, and I began getting so much clarity on what finding and purchasing a home in Marche could entail.
It was a most enjoyable and informative evening and I went to bed feeling so excited for the days to follow.”
– PETER & LINDA, NORTHERN IRELAND
“Our first evening at Ramuse was a great way to break the ice with the rest of the guests and our hosts. We were slightly apprehensive about what our fellow guests would be like, what the group dynamic would feel like with a group of people we hadn’t met before, but soon started to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, the food and wine.
It was great to get stuck right in to the purpose of our visit – finding out about the housing market in Le Marche region and meet estate agents in a no-pressure information session.
We head off to our comfortable bedroom, replete and with a happy buzz in anticipation of the next day’s activities.”
– ADRIENNE & MICHAEL, SOUTH AFRICA
“The accommodation at Ramuse, the delightful collection of animals and the gorgeous scenery exceeded our expectation. Getting there was also a lot easier than expected” ADRIENNE
“The food was delicious throughout and hearing the activity and chatter in the kitchen next door just made us all more hungry.” – MICHAEL
– HEATHER, USA
“These 2 men are incredible! Let’s start with the pre-workshop interview! I was asked what I was looking for so that the homes we were all shown would align with our dreams.
Arriving at the Agriturismo Ramusè, I was surrounded by countryside beauty!
I received a heartwarming greeting from Davide & Gary! The hospitality at Agriturismo Ramusè is amazing!
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Day 2 - House Hunting & Meet the Expats
It’s up early for breakfast – Paolo and his aunt prepare a selection of breads, home made jam, ciambella (breakfast cake), fresh yoghurt with fruits, and scrambled eggs for us all. All organic, and all produced either on his, or local farms. After cappuccinos, we board the mini bus with Barbara and Gildo and set off for a day of house-hunting.
This is one of our favourite days during this event as we get to showcase Le Marche, with its historic towns and villages, wrapped with spectacular countryside that we can enjoy as we travel to see the properties.
We have selected homes with Barbara before the group arrives, based on everyones individual requirements and budgets. We always stress to attendees that we do not expect anyone to buy a house during this event – it’s more of a fact-finding trip in order for people to ascertain what their ideal home looks like, as well as where it’s located. It’s always interesting to see how people’s ideas can change during the course of the event – you really can only produce a tick-list once you’ve seen a variety of properties and areas up-close.
We spend the morning viewing a selection of houses including countryside homes, townhouses in small villages, and a couple of larger properties with gardens that are situated at the edge of a hilltop village. There is a historic house surrounded by gardens with its own portico, a modern home stuffed with art in carefully manicured gardens surrounded by acres of woodland, a townhouse with a large outdoor terrace near a small village, and a large villa with a pool.
During our last event, when exploring a mountain home with our guests, we were all taken aback to discover the headstone and grave of the owner’s mother situated in the garden, facing the Sibillini Mountains. Too afraid to ask if she came with the house, the group tried to keep straight faces as the owner told us that this had been his mother’s favourite spot, so the family had buried her here.
Talk about a tomb with a view.
Luckily all of today’s properties are corpse-free, and our guests get a good overview of what is on offer for their budgets.
Lunch is at one of our favourite restaurants, Vecchio Moro – a traditional osteria that overlooks Lago di Fiastra, a huge lake which today is hosting a regatta. The pasta alla Norcina here is to die for – tortellini stuffed with pork, bathed in a creamy sauce and topped off with tartufo from the owner’s truffle farm. It’s my favourite dish on the menu, and we enjoy a set menu of two pasta dishes, grilled meats (the lamb here is also amazing), grilled vegetables, fried potatoes and tiramisu. Of course wine is also on the menu today. One of the great things about living in Le Marche is that very often only local, fresh, seasonal foods are served, so throughout the year a menu will change depending on the season.
A quick stroll lakeside takes us back to the mini bus, where we head off for an afternoon of house-hunting, visiting a large villa that is currently fully booked as a vacation rental, with a further two properties on its land that can be used by a new buyer while they rent out the main house, all situated on acres of land that create a tranquil setting inside of the Sibilini Mountain National Park.
Then it’s a visit to a hillside home that sits on the edge of a small village, its elevated position offering stunning views of the countryside all around, before we make a gelato stop in the medieval piazza of nearby Amandola. The group are very keen for an ice cream break, and so are we! The weather is getting warmer and touring homes all day long, as exciting as it is can be tiring. Plus Amandola is a beautiful historic town and we know our guests will appreciate being able to see it.
Back at Ramuse, we enjoy aperitivi with Barbara and Gildo, who answer lots of questions from the group. We find that it helps to have our experts join us for drinks or dinner, as it gives everyone the chance to chat informally and ask any questions that might have come up during the day.
We sit up late chatting with the group, who are all alot of fun and very engaged with ourselves and each other. We love to see our guests all getting along well, and we are enjoying plenty of laughs with this lovely group of people.
“On Day 2 we finally got to begin to see a variety of the different types of homes and settings of Le Marche. Our group was full of questions all day long and nothing went unanswered.
Seeing photos of a place is so different than actually being there and I’m not sure any of us really anticipated what was going to be in store for us.
It seemed however that everyone was wonderfully surprised with our first day of touring around at how beautiful the region is, how friendly and inviting the communities we visited were, and just how special this area is.
From start to finish the whole day was a delight. Our group was really connecting and I think we all doubled down on our dream to live in this beautiful region.”
“We saw an amazing 11 properties! Ranging from total overgrown ruin to fully renovated homes with tons of land.”
– LINDA & PETER
“Day two was exactly what we were hoping for – a day of house viewing, able to ask the experts about price ranges, building regulations, understanding different aspects of the housing market, and all in the comfort of our air conditioned bus with someone else driving!
Gildo and Barbara’s printed property guides provided detailed information and photos as an aide memoire. It meant we could relax and chat with some drinks over our lunch at Vecchio Moro, swapping opinions on the properties we’d seen so far and starting to formulate our own ideas for our ideal Italian purchase.
We loved our ice cream pit stop in Amandola and it was useful to chat to a couple who had relocated to live here from the UK about local life, shopping, healthcare and community activities.
By the evening of day two we felt like a group of old friends on a common mission which meant discussions over another delicious dinner were animated and useful.”
“Quite a hectic day, leaving us somewhat confused with different impressions. The area is splendid. One location deserves a brand new house built using bricks from the existing ruins, in another location a renovation might do it. So many options for a simple soul.”
Day 3 - Legal Advice & our Renovation Project
After yesterday’s early start, our first presentation today is at 10am and is from Giovanna, an expert property lawyer we work with. She arrives with a box of cakes for the group, and begins her presentation in the main dining room. On arrival, we give everyone D&G Design notebooks as it’s important to write down the legal information in real time, as the legal ‘facts’ given online can often be outdated and misleading. Giovanna spends time answering everyones questions which is extremely useful as each person has their own situation that is unique to them.
After the presentation, we arrange to meet during the afternoon in the piazza in Fermo – a large medieval town around 40 minutes drive from Ramuse. There, after lunch, we show our guests a renovation project that we are currently working on, and meet with an agent who has a townhouse as well as a countryside villa that overlooks the sea to show the group.
The group enjoy looking at the renovation project as it helps them to visualise the type of work that can be done in medieval homes, as well as see a property transformed and adapted to modern living. This house has a huge terrace on the roof which offers magnificent panoramic views from the sea to the mountains, and our guests seem impressed. Most people do not consider living in the centre of an Italian town, many favour living on the edge of one so that they can benefit from having land around them while the piazza is only a short walk away. But it’s only when we see these old townhouses up close, especially homes with balconies and roof terraces, that some people’s vision for their own Italian life can change.
We meet our agent and view a nearby town house, one that also has a roof terrace but has yet to have work done to it. This is the ‘before’ and we’ve just visited the ‘after’!
Once this tour has finished, we drive our cars to view a villa near the coast, hopefully showcasing another range of options that this region holds for homeowners.
Back to Ramuse in time for aperitivi and a chat from two expat friends of ours, Paul & Michelle, who moved to Le Marche 12 years ago and restored a beautiful farmhouse. They give a great insight into the restoration process, with plenty of their own before and after images, together with an honest overview on what it’s like to live in Italy as a foreigner.
After seeing Paul & Michelle’s own restoration project, several of our guests express an interest in viewing some ruins that are for sale, so David calls Barbara who quickly lines up some properties that we can look at tomorrow morning.
Then it’s another four course dinner, expertly cooked by Paolo, and tonight it’s a primo Piatto of homemade lasagne, grilled chicken with grilled zucchini, tomatoes and garlic, yoghurt and honey and a very decent amount of red wine!
“Day 3 was also amazing from the start. First thing after breakfast we got to talk with Giovanna the attorney and she helped me to see that there is so much support available to deal with the legal aspects of purchasing a home in Italy, which to me had previously felt like the most confusing and overwhelming part.
But in truth, now that I know this help is available and it doesn’t seem like the legal aspect is much of a challenge as long as you have a few key people working with you.
The day ahead was so fun once again and we got to see even more houses and gorgeous areas.
My other favorite part of the day was when we began to see what is really possible when we visited the renovation project that David and Gary were working on, as we saw the work happening in progress, as well as before-photos and the renderings of what it would look like when it was completed.
We all began to see with new eyes what could be done as we visited homes for sale that needed either a little or a lot of renovating. By the end of the day I was beginning to see how actually doable this whole thing was.”
– LINDA & PETER
“Day three was one of our most useful days – being able to ask a lawyer all those burning questions, dispel some myths and get the real facts was so important for us.
And the renovation projects we viewed gave us inspiration to think about buying a property for restoration ourselves. We were really impressed with the flexibility of the programme as David and Gary responded to our interest and quickly lined up properties the next day for us to view that would be full restoration projects.
Dinner was delicious as usual – local, fresh and made with pride and care. And some local wine of course!”
– ADRIENNE & MICHAEL
“Finally, a real legal expert. Much better than the opinions on Facebook. Giovanna will be engaged no matter where in Italy we might end up. The benefit of having property law expertise at hand is obvious.” – MICHAEL
“Really interesting and indeed inspiring to see a renovation in progress, and also to get a sense of what living in a town with a distant view of the sea would be like.” – ADRIENNE
“Meeting Paul and Michelle and learning about their journey was really helpful and provided great insight into life in Le Marche.” – ADRIENNE
– HEATHER, USA
“The group of people that were in this workshop were all incredible people that I felt blessed to meet! The whole plan of meeting real estate agents, meeting a local attorney that would advise us on Real Estate, Visas and some great “side advice” regarding how to accomplish that.”
Day 4: House Hunting & Renovations
After a hearty breakfast, we meet Barbara and Gildo for an impromptu tour of local ruins.
The first ruin was obviously once beautiful. The remains of a house, now covered with foliage sits on a hill with valleys on either side, surrounded by farmland and offering a view of our town, Force, high on the opposite hill. It’s a tranquil spot and even has its own chapel, situated just a short walk from what would have once been the main house. The chapel’s walls are intact, including an area that would have been the altar, but the roof has gone. Inside, wild grasses and a few trees grow, but it’s still easy to imagine how this can be restored into something pretty amazing. One of our clients runs yoga retreats and she can imagine hosting a retreat here. Barbara tells us that the local farmer uses an access road to get to his land, but this can be rerouted so that it comes from the main road. In Italy, there are always workarounds!
The next property is a ruin on the edge of town. The house is still intact but needs a great deal of work to bring it back to life and make it safe. It is perhaps too close to another house where a couple of hunting dogs live in cages and bark constantly – something an online photo would never reveal.
Our region is abundant with ruins, and it takes seeing them up close to understand exactly how much work needs to be done, as well as if the location suits the needs of the buyer.
After these viewings, we head to nearby Ascoli Piceno and enjoy lunch in Piazza del Popolo – voted one of Italy’s most beautiful piazzas as it’s built entirely in travertine stone. Ascoli is one of Le Marche’s larger towns, and as it’s nearby we always try and take our clients there. Our guests try the local delicacy, Olive Ascolane – pitted olives stuffed with pork or beef and deep friend in breadcrumbs. Buonissimo!
We stroll around Ascoli and then it’s back to Ramuse for this evening’s presentation over aperitivi, where we give a talk on renovating in Italy and the rules around it. We enjoy showing our guests some of our work.
Then it’s our final four course dinner of the event, with Paolo and his aunt receiving another round of applause from the group! We’ve all eaten so well during the retreat.
– PETER & LINDA
Sadly our final day as we have to travel back to Bologna to catch an early flight the next day. But this day crystallises for us what we now want to focus on for our Italian property search. A renovation project in a country area with those spectacular views of the Sibillini mountains.
Visiting the local towns for lunch and strolls also allows us to get to know the area, the “feel” of the place.
We reluctantly leave for our evening drive north, brimming with ideas and excitement.
One of the best long weekends we’ve had – an experience packed full of practical guidance, viewing properties in a “no pressure” environment, the ability to ask knowledgeable experts all our questions without feeling stupid, experiencing local food & wine, making useful connections and a few new friends as well!
Gary and David provided us with the opportunity to take the first steps on our journey to buying a home in Italy in a safe, friendly, relaxed and enjoyable experience.
In fact we loved it so much that two months later we were back to meet up with our new connections and friends, and begin in earnest to find our “Italian Project”!
“Paulo is an outstanding host and an even better cook”
“Although I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite day of the retreat, it might have been Day 4. I fell absolutely in love with one of the ruins that we visited and got really excited about the idea of doing a full restoration project.
This gave me a new vision for what I ultimately might want to do as a project and make it really amazing. With the people we met and resources we were introduced to, it seems totally doable and really appealing.
Our whole group seemed to have gotten very excited about the prospect of restoring a ruin and we request the realtors to keep a lookout for more ruin listings to send by email.
At our last dinner together we all felt so sad to be at the end of our retreat, but also so excited as we imagined all being neighbors not far in the future!
By the end of Day 4 I felt like I had very clear understanding of every aspect I needed to know about for purchasing a home in Italy, even including my own visa considerations.
David and Gary were so thorough in the details and every day was packed with so much fun, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”
Day 5: Breakfast & Departure
We join our guests for breakfast before they depart. Not everyone is flying home just yet, with one of our couples heading to Rome for a few days and then to Austria for a family wedding, another couple are off to Bologna, and another is visiting Tuscany for a few days. Our location ensures that Le Marche is a perfect base in which to explore other Italian regions, and also to visit other European countries.
We have had the best five days with this group, and feel rather deflated as we say our goodbyes and they leave, knowing that we will all keep in touch and hopefully welcome them back in the near future – maybe as new homeowners after using the skills of the experts we’ve introduced them to this week.
There isn’t much time for us to dwell however, we now have to get back to our day job of renovating two homes for clients!
“I sadly had to miss the last breakfast so I could hit the road and make my flight from Rome to Nice! But the whole way home I couldn’t wait to start planning my next trip back to Le Marche.”
“You don’t often get to spend a condensed amount of time with complete strangers who share the same interest. It’s a way of making friends quickly and without effort.
All thanks to the ingenuity of Gary and David.”
“When it was time to leave, I felt that I had made great friends and had learned so much more than I expected! I described this experience to friends, and they all said they wished that this kind of workshop was available in places they dreamed of living!
AMAZING experience that taught me so much about my dream!”