A crane overlooks the hilltop village of Casoli, in the province of Chieti in Abruzzo. Below, work is underway to restore a historic noble palace with a new take on its former glory. The inhabitants, far from being disturbed by the presence of the imposing machine in the village of the 8th century, see it as a promising sign of the future.
The palace, originally built for the Ricci family, has held its court in Piazza del Popolo since 1799. In its time it hosted designers such as Francesco Paolo Michetti and Gabbielle D’Annunzio, and will soon house 14 private residences fully refurbished luxury suites that homeowners around the world will call home.
Acquired by Viaggio Resorts in 2020, the Palazzo is set to become the first private residence club of its kind in the region. Businessman Mike Brosnan, who spotted a gap in the holiday home market without the hassle of ongoing maintenance, is spearheading the Palazzo Ricci project which is expected to be completed by spring 2023. In the meantime, potential investors visiting the charming city can get a taste of it. for the style of the property in the nearby showroom.
Owners of the Palazzo will benefit from “all the features of a five-star hotel” while residing in “fully self-contained” spaces, explains Brosnan. Staff on site will be on hand to put guests at ease, while ensuring that all maintenance work is taken care of in their absence. Brosnan hopes all the guests will have to think “that’s when they come back”.
Each residence within Palazzo Ricci will have a distinct character. From one and two bedroom units to the three bedroom penthouse on the fifth floor or the separate cottage with private garden, the apartments will be uniquely designed, combining modern amenities with the classic splendor of the building’s original features.
Specialist painter and project partner Spencer Power will lead the decorative conservation work, which includes the restoration of the Ricci family chapel. And the natural scenery will also amaze guests, with a view of the terracotta rooftops of the streets of Casoli and the Apennine mountain range beyond.
Residents will enjoy an outdoor swimming pool set in a 930 square meter garden, as well as a Roman bath, fitness center, bar and social areas. If they feel the need to get away from their not-so-humble abodes, then Casoli has a lot to offer as well.
A quick climb up to Castello Masciantonio rewards visitors with a lesson in the region’s varied history, while a stroll through town on a Friday morning will provide plenty of shopping opportunities at the local market. From groceries and clothes to pasta making tools, leaving empty-handed is no small feat.
New restaurants and businesses are expected to emerge by the time the Palazzo’s doors officially open, with estimates indicating the private residence club could boost the local economy by € 2.55 million to € 3.37 million ( £ 2.2-2.9 million) per year. One of the beneficiaries will be Fiore, a place Brosnan recommends as a restaurant to watch – so much so that a window between the restaurant and the palace gardens will allow residents to enjoy his menu from the comfort of their lounge chairs by the water’s edge. the swimming pool.
Another is the local cooperative which will provide traditional hand-woven products for use in all Palazzo residences. The collaboration demonstrates the project’s commitment to providing a sustainable source of income – and outside interest – in the region.
Palazzo Ricci Private Residence Club offers a unique investment opportunity in the form of fractional ownership, touted by some as the future of overseas real estate investing. Each of the residences will have nine owners, who in turn will be able to access the Club for a minimum of five and a half weeks per year, with no maximum limit on the length of stay at the Palazzo.
Fractional units are available from € 89,000 (£ 76,000) up to € 289,000 (£ 247,000). The property also includes membership in Elite Alliance, a residence club with a portfolio of 135 luxury properties around the world, so investors can travel the world for a small fee.
Brosnan and co are keen for owners to find their favorites in the various Palazzo residences, and guests won’t be limited to staying in the unit in which they invest directly. Instead, the company’s internal management system will take care of owners’ requests to upgrade to the penthouse or opt for a more comfortable stay in a one-bedroom apartment, for example. The team has already seen considerable interest from potential buyers in Northern Europe, as well as the United States and Canada.
So why Abruzzo?
Mention Tuscany and the Palazzo project partner, interior designer Bimbi Bellhouse, shivers. You can’t compare the two regions, she said. The former having become a ‘Disneyland’ overrun with tourists, Abruzzo offers more of a quiet and understated authenticity – with a rich history, landscape and culture to boot. So it’s no surprise that he was named by Forbes as one of the top ten places in the world to retire.
A stay in the region is nothing less than a gourmet smorgasburg. Truffles are plentiful in Abruzzo and are generously crumbled over freshly made chiatara pasta. Anellini pasta is also a regional specialty, a small, ring-shaped dough that’s a very distant and distant relative of spaghetti hoops – although you wouldn’t guess to see and taste the artisan version.
Saffron and olive oil are also local specialties, and a stop at Gourment Abruzzo in the nearby town of Lanciano will delight feasts with a real taste of local flavors in tapas-style portions. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is also a must-see, and the renowned varieties of Masciarelli are best tasted at Castello di Semivicoli, a popular spot for Italians who are getting married, with views of the varied landscape of the region’s hills.
Abruzzo also offers thrill seekers a multitude of activities. Skiers can roam the Apennine slopes during the cooler months and in summer visitors will find themselves on the Costa dei Trabocchi in less than an hour’s drive.
This 70 kilometer stretch of the Adriatic coast is characterized by the trabucco – traditional fishing jetties built into the sea. Today a number of them have been turned into restaurants, the evening menu being determined by this. which is fished that day. Walk, swim, or cycle the unspoiled coastline without the relentless crowds that many other equally Instagrammable places suffer.
And for those looking for a true escape to nature, the trails through Abruzzo National Park might well reward walkers with sightings of wild boar, hundreds of species of birds, and maybe even the Brown Bear. Marsican. Less easy to spot are the wolves in the park, but keep an eye out for their paw prints …
With Abruzzo less than a three-hour drive from Rome and Naples, and Pescara International Airport just 40 minutes away, it seems unlikely that this lesser-known corner of Italy will remain a secret for long.