With crystalline seas, pretty countryside and endless sunshine, Puglia in the foot of Italy offers great-value property. Fleur Kinson gives you the latest on this unique, much-loved southern region.

The high heel of the Italian boot looks and feels like nowhere else in Italy. You might be on a Greek island here – washed in dazzling light, surrounded by low white-washed buildings, and gazing onto an omnipresent blue sea which hugs the region from two sides. Colourful, exotic Puglia is a beguiling and stimulating place, with its own distinctive food, architecture and atmosphere.
Its landscapes have an appealingly elemental quality – stark rocks meeting clean beaches lapped by crystal-clear water; gigantic olive trees spiralling up from dark red soil fringed by vivid wildflowers; fragrant pine forests opening onto chalk-white sands. Nature’s colours are bold in Puglia, and man-made shapes are simple – with chunky, cubic houses and conical-roofed cottages dotting the countryside. You soon get hooked on the region’s unique, striking flavour.
Puglia is southern Italy’s big success story of recent years. A prosperous and orderly region, it has the south’s lowest unemployment rate and a rock-bottom incidence of crime. Puglia offers the long, hot summers and often bright, balmy winters of Italy’s far south, but with fewer of the socio-economic problems sometimes associated with il mezzogiorno. There’s little evidence of poverty or corruption here. Puglia has Italy’s lowest average rainfall, and, as a wonderful bonus, its southern half has almost no earthquake activity – unlike the rest of central and southern Italy.
Of course, all the best of southern Italy is down here too – super-healthy food, open spaces, low population, a strong sense of family and community, and an easygoing lifestyle. Puglia remains the most popular southern region among foreign buyers. It’s easy to see what draws them down here, and it’s not just the low property prices. [...]

Apartment for sale in Puglia

Apartment for sale in Puglia

Many agents highlight Puglia’s coast as the best place in the region to buy property right now. Seaside homes have held their value best since the onset of the recession, and as you can readily imagine, they offer the strongest holiday rental prospects if you plan on letting out your home when you’re not there. Luigi Spano of the Puglia specialist agency SIS Property and Tourism says “If I were to buy a home in Puglia today, I would choose a coastal property. It will keep its value in the worst times, will increase in value by 8-13 per cent each year in normal times, and will give me a rental income of 3-5 per cent.” Luigi particularly recommends buying off-plan as a route to big savings, saying that you are likely to pay 20-25 per cent less than the final price of a property if you buy before building is complete. [...]
Puglia was little heard of in Britain until 2004, when budget airlines first began serving the region. A flurry of interest followed immediately, and since then Puglia’s reputation has grown steadily – both in the UK and in other European countries. The recent recession hasn’t affected Puglia’s property market too badly. Today, foreign buyers are still interested in the region, and it’s expected that the recent introduction of two new Ryanair routes into Puglia (from Paris and Stockholm) will bring yet more interest over the coming months and years. Some agents report that property prices in Puglia are down by as much as 15 per cent compared to what they were three years ago. But this decrease isn’t consistent across the region. In particular, property on the coast seems to have held its value particularly well. Prices of seaside homes are very little changed, and the Puglian coast is still tipped as a very good place to put your money.
Finally, a word on holiday rentals in Puglia. As you might imagine, this sun-drenched and sea-girt region is much loved by holidaymakers, yet it manages to remain unspoilt and uncrowded. It’s a discerning crowd who come here – Italians from other regions as well as northern Europeans. You’re likely to get a good amount of client interest on a home in Puglia, especially if it’s on the coast. Visitor numbers to southern Puglia were up by 20 per cent last year. New flight routes, more visitors and continuing buyer interest… it seems like Puglia’s bright star is still ascending.

Read the full article at http://www.italia-magazine.com/puglia/puglia-property-buying-guide Find your property for sale in Puglia at http://www.sispropertyandtourism.co.uk

Lecce: The international festival of film on tourism to relaunch Salento area

“The International Tourist Film Festival to be held in Lecce next May 25-29, is just one of many initiatives undertaken to promote the Salento, one of the most charming districts of the Apulia Region, (geographically featured as the “heel” of the country),” confirmed Stefania Mandurino, Apt Commissioner of Lecce and passionate promoter of Puglia, a region with a commendable solar spectrum offering its bright scenes through documentaries and commendable authors.
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Ryanair launch two new routes from Brindisi Airport (Puglia): Paris Beauvais and Stockholm Skavsta

Continue the upgrading of Brindisi’s Airport. Ryanair, after connecting the Puglia’s airport to some major Italian towns such as Bologna, Pisa, Turin, Venice, Rome, Milan, and European such as London, Brussels, Barcelona, Eindhoven, have already started to take booking for the two new routes from Brindisi to Stockholm (Skavsta) and Paris (Beauvais).

Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti) in Cinemas around London and UK

Loose Cannons, the new Ozpetec’s movie is a good occasion to explore the historic wine towns, fishermen villages and white sand beaches of this beautiful, unspoilt region of Italy, Puglia… Salento! A nice postcard of these places, particularly you will discover the baroque wonders of Lecce and crystal clear water of Gallipoli beaches and surroundings. If you are in London and want to visit our region… just go to the nearest cinema and watch the movie.

Casa Puglia by architect Peter Pichler

Though still only 28, Peter Pichler’s CV charts his progress through some of Europe’s most high-profile practices, including Zaha Hadid and Delugan Meissl and the Italian’s portfolio is filled with ambitious schemes, ranging from a new country house for the photographer Cellina von Mannstein to a car showroom in Bolzano.

For this casa in (Santa Maria al bagno) a small fishing village in Puglia, his brief was to turn a 14th-century fortified farmhouse into a contemporary retreat. Pichler retained the broad interior arches that are set into the hefty sandstone walls. ‘The idea was to expand those arches in the exterior façade to provide light and direct access from each room towards the exterior’ he said.

The patterned aluminium panels on the façade were etched using a precise water-cutting process. ‘It evokes a new interpretation of the classic Arabic “linear” pattern’, says Pichler, explaining how the sunlight and artificial light from within causes the structure to cast dramatic shadows, inside and out.

Written by Jonathan Bell
Read the full article at http://www.wallpaper.com/architecture/casa-puglia-by-peter-pichler/4885

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The historic, homely heel at the end of Italy’s boot: Six things you must do in Puglia

written By Gareth Huw Davies for DailyMail

Think the high heel of Italy’s famous ‘boot’ and you have Puglia, the country’s buzzing destination. This long-forgotten region has been climbing the travel league table and is now challenging Tuscany and Umbria as the chic place to visit. Here is Gareth Huw Davies’s must-see-and-do list in this tucked-away region:

1. Look out
Puglia (Apulia in Italian) is a land of vivid colours and rustic charm – all low hills and broad red plains smothered in crops and gnarled old olive trees. The big scenic feature is the long, east-facing Adriatic coastline.
Dotted with pretty seaside towns and bays of clear water and white sand, Italy’s south-east extremity has been an invaders’ thoroughfare down the millennia. Its early-warning system survives in ancient watchtowers along the Salento peninsula.
There are about 50 left, some Norman. Another ancient feature is the string of 800-year-old churches and cathedrals. Finest of all is in the seaside town of Trani. Its dazzling, chalk-white, big-impact cathedral sits on a broad square, on the lip of the turquoise sea.

2. Floor show
One of the many little-known marvels scattered about Puglia is in Otranto. This peaceful place is on the clear, clean Adriatic, near the tip of the heel, where Albania is much closer than Rome.
The astounding 800-year-old Tree of Life mosaic is in the Norman cathedral. Filling the entire floor of the nave and choir, it is arranged like a standard family tree. The trunk rests on two elephants.
Lose yourself in a fabulous and dotty mix of images spread through the branches, depicting Creation, the fall of Adam and Eve and Judgment Day. There’s a supporting role for Noah and other biblical worthies as well as King Arthur, Alexander the Great, the Tower of Babel and assorted dragons, unicorns and Norse gods.

3. Bold build
In the 17th Century the city fathers in little Lecce commissioned their own masterpieces to compete with the grand cities in the north. The exuberant baroque architecture gave the town the unofficial title ‘Florence of the South’.
Six fine churches are scattered through the compact historic centre, alongside Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the main square, the Roman amphitheatre, triumphal arch and shady courtyards under wrought-iron balconies.
Leading the over-the-top list is one of the most exciting baroque churches in Italy, the 16th Century Basilica of Santa Croce. Carved cherubim, mermaids and wolves swirl around the lavish facade and encircle the Rose Window. The Trattoria Le Zie does amazing home cooking.

Chiesa di San Domenico, Nardò, Lecce, Puglia

4. The chic of it
One of the key words in Puglia’s current tourism boom is masseria. These once-crumbling fortified farmhouses, with turrets and thick walls to deter invaders, are being spruced up to boutique hotel standard. Rooms look out over orange groves and shimmering sea. Now seaside watchtowers are being converted, too. Expect sumptuous bed linen, swanky furniture and polished antiques. Some rooms have their own private gardens, or a pool. Many have a spa and there’s usually a restaurant. The new deal is cookery lessons from the chef, and wine and olive oil tasting. Bikes are often supplied for touring.

5. Power of eight
The 13th Century Castel del Monte has the secret of eternal youth built into its ramparts. The exceptionally well-preserved, honey-hued fortress, commanding a rocky peak near Andria, is more maths formula than fairy castle. The perfectly regular shape is a homage to the figure 8, with octagons everywhere. Experts are still trying to fathom what it all means. Built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, this unique piece of medieval military architecture is one of two world heritage sites in Puglia.
The others are the trulli – little stone houses with conical roofs – around Alberobello. Some are very old indeed. They were built without mortar using an ancient technique.

6. Smart chefs
Puglia chefs know how to make the land work for them. The cuisine is simple and glorious, based around the local orecchiette (ear-shaped) pasta and a cornucopia of vegetables.
Tough times made cooks inventive with chickpeas, capers, green peppers, aubergines and basil. They even have their own vegetable, the barattiere, a cross between a cucumber and a melon. Look around for small, extremely hospitable family restaurants. My drink of choice would be deep red Primitivo wine.

Article from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1329508/Italy-holidays-Six-things-Puglia.html

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How to buy a house

Actually, how to think about buying a house.
You don’t see a lot of ads trying to sell you on spending too much money on a house. It’s more subtle than that. The marketing is all around us, and has been for years. The enormous social pressure and the expectations that come with it lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Here’s my advice to someone in the market:

1) In an era where house prices rise reliably (which was 1963 to 2007), it was almost impossible to overpay for a house. It was an efficient market, and rising prices cover many mistakes. Investing in houses in the USA was a no-brainer. More leverage and more at stake just paid off more in the end. This consistent, multi-generational rise taught us more than an ad every could: buy a lot of house with as little downpayment as you could.
2) A house is not just an investment, it’s a place to live. This is the only significant financial investment that has two functions. Things like cars and boats always go down in value, so most of the time, if you’re investing, you’re doing it in something that you don’t have to fix, water, fuel or live in. You shouldn’t fall in love with a bond or a stock or a piece of gold, because if you do, you won’t be a smart investor. The problem (as people who sell and fix and build houses understand) is that you just might fall in love with a house. What a dumb reason to make the largest financial investment of your life.
3) The psychology of down markets is irrational. Rising house prices might be efficient (many bidders for a single item lead to higher prices), but when there aren’t so many bidders, irrational sellers (see #2) don’t lower their prices accordingly. So, inventories get longer and it’s easy for the prospective buyer to think that a certain price is the ‘right’ price because so many people are offering houses at that price. Just because someone offers a price, though, doesn’t mean it’s fair in a given market.
4) Along the same lines, anchoring has a huge impact on housing prices. If someone offers a house for $800,000 and you think it’s worth half that, you don’t offer half that. No, of course not. The price is a mental and emotional anchor, and you’re likely to offer far more.
5) The social power of a house is huge. When you buy a big house or an expensive house, you are making a statement to your in-laws, your family, your neighbors and yourself. Nothing wrong with that, but the question you must ask yourself is, “how big a statement can I afford?” How much are you willing to spend on personal marketing and temporary self-esteem?
6) Debt is an evil plot to keep you poor. If buying a bigger house (or even a house with a living room or a garage) is going to keep you in credit card debt, you’ve made a huge financial error, one that could cost you millions.
7) By the time you buy a house, you probably have a family. Which means that this is a joint decision, a group decision, a decision made under stress by at least two people, probably people that don’t have a lot of practice talking rationally about significant financial decisions that also have emotional and social underpinnings. Ooph. You’ve been warned. Perhaps you could add some artificial rigor to the conversation so that it doesn’t become a referendum on your marriage or careers and is instead about the house.
8) If you have a steady job, matching your mortgage to your income isn’t dumb. But if you are a freelancer, an entrepreneur or a big thinker, a mortgage can wipe you out. That’s because the pressure to make your monthly nut is so big you won’t take the risks and do the important work you need to do to actually get ahead. When you have a choice between creating a sure-thing average piece of work or a riskier breakthrough, the mortgage might be just enough to persuade you to hold back.
9) Real estate brokers, by law, work for the seller (unless otherwise noted). And yet buyers often try to please the broker. You’ll never see her again, don’t worry about it. [Let me be really clear about what I wrote here, just in case you’d like to misinterpret it: When a prospect sees an ad or goes to an open house, she is about to interact with a broker. That broker, in almost every case, is hired by the seller and has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller to get the very best price for the house. There are exceptions, like buyer’s brokers, but those brokers, as I said, note that they are representing the buyer–how can you represent someone without telling them? Many brokers like to pretend to themselves that they are representing both sides, and while that’s a nice concept, that’s not the
10) You’re probably not going to be able to flip your house in nine months for a big profit. Maybe not even nine years. So revisit #2 and imagine that there is no financial investment, just a house you love. And spend accordingly.

I’m optimistic about the power of a house to change your finances, to provide a foundation for a family and our communities. I’m just not sure you should buy more house than you can afford merely because houses have such good marketing.

Article from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/04/how-to-buy-a-house.html

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Financial Times article: Lecce’s architectural wonders

Even the “fast” train from Rome takes nearly six hours to get to Lecce, labouring over the Apennines before dipping across coastal flatlands and endless olive groves, past places like Monopoli, whose names recall the Greek heritage of Italy’s deep south.
In the baking summer heat it is a relief to enter the walled city of Lecce – the harsh light is absorbed by the famed limestone of its buildings. Spared the hordes of foreign tourists that cram the renaissance cities of Venice and Florence, Lecce has a provincial charm. The churches are quiet, but this is a university town, with a buzz in the bars, pastry shops and bookstores.
The city is a delight to explore on foot, each turning revealing another architectural treat. To understand the story behind the architecture, I hire a guide, Simona Melchiorre, a local historian, who is passionate about her home city. She tells me the stately grandeur of courtyard villas, some occupied by descendants of their original owners, and the refined elegance of the churches conceal a darker passage in Lecce’s history. Following the persecution of Jews in Spain, Charles V expelled the city’s Jewish population in 1541. Wanting space to build a castle, Charles V moved the church and local nobility into the former Jewish quarter.
A stone foundation block below ground level in the Palazzo Adorno reveals an inscription in Hebrew, “House of God”, testifying to its origins in what had been the local synagogue. Other Jewish remnants went into the construction of Lecce’s Church of the Holy Cross, consecrated as a basilica by Pope Pius X in 1906. Building started in 1549 and took about a century to complete. While the side chapels are richly ornate, the basilica – in Greek-Roman style modelled on the Temple of Jerusalem – is light and airy, beautifully proportioned with 12 pillars.
There are several villages close to Lecce where the inhabitants still speak a form of ancient Greek, while at the Church of Saint Nicholas in Lecce the liturgy is in Greek according to the Byzantine rite.
Before moving on, my guide introduces a local, heavenly treat – black coffee doused with ice and almond milk (caffè in ghiaccio con latte di mandorle) and oval-shaped lemon custard pastries (pasticciotti).
Being inland, on the southeastern tip of Italy’s boot, Lecce was spared the sieges and destruction that befell the Norman cathedral ports, such as nearby Otranto where the bones and skulls of 800 Christians martyred by the Ottomans are on display in the crypt.
When the coastal towns declined in status with the discovery of the Americas and trade shifted from east to west, Lecce survived on the backbone of its rural economy and its importance as a religious centre.
Yet the 20th century was less kind and in the 1970s much of the city lay in disrepair, its tobacco and textile industries unable to match east European and Chinese competitors.
But efforts to regenerate the area, from the late 1980s, appear to have been a success. So much so that a visitor to the city could be tempted to place Lecce less in the company of chaotic southern cities like Naples and instead with the far away prosperous north. Yet the burghers of baroque feel very much of the south.
Lecce’s architectural history can be surveyed in one sweep across the main piazza, Saint Oronzo. Towering above the scene is a statue of Lecce’s patron saint (Saint Oronzo) perched atop a 25-metre-high marble pillar from Roman times that had been one of two marking the end of the Appian way, stretching across Italy to Brindisi. The column was donated to Lecce by the people of that Adriatic port to mark the saint’s reputed triumph over the plague in the 1600s.
Next to the square is the half-uncovered Roman amphitheatre, which was once big enough to seat up to 15,000 people. It was discovered in 1908, having been lost in the 1500s. Excavations were carried out under Mussolini, who was intent on rebuilding a national sense of empire. In the process, the renaissance-era town hall on the square’s edge was demolished, and municipal buildings erected instead.
The severe buildings are yet another reminder that Lecce’s compelling character has been forged out of so many diverse influences. Written by Guy Dinmore is the FT’s Rome correspondent

Brits reject far-flung destinations in flight to safety‏

British overseas home buyers are reverting back to more traditional second home destinations, according to a survey of 1200 second home owners by Savills International. During the overseas property boom, the proportion of Brits buying outside of Western Europe grew significantly as buyers became motivated by the potential for capital gains. However, since the market turned in September 2008, buyers have returned to the traditional favourites of Spain, France, Portugal and Italy.
“In 2010, the overseas second home market will be characterised by cash-rich, lifestyle buyers benefiting from lower prices in traditional, established holiday home hotspots.” Says Charles Weston-Baker, Head of Savills International. The survey data also confirms that 2009 was one of the worst years for the industry. 70% of respondents invested in overseas property between 2003 and 2008 but just 2% had in 2009. Rebecca Gill, research analyst at Savills International comments. “Whilst UK overseas home ownership has doubled since 2001 recent global recessionary trends have seen take-up levels dramatically slow. Factors such as fewer overseas holidays, reduced leisure spend capacity and financing availability, unfavourable exchange rates and declining house prices have impacted second home purchasing activity.”
20% of owners plan more purchases. The positive news is that a fifth of respondents said they are considering or planning additional holiday home purchases in the future. The top ten destinations being considered were France, Spain, Portugal, the US, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Morocco, Brazil and Turkey. However, further property price falls, better mortgage availability and a strengthening of sterling against the Euro are all necessary conditions before we see the market return to anywhere near the transaction volumes of 2007.

Article from http://www.globaledge.co.uk/news/brits-reject-far-flung-destinations-in-f-38270

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