Like many countries, the eurozone crisis weighs heavy on Italy. With its government divided and debt spiralling up, the Italian economic outlook is not pretty. But nestled in the Dolomites Mountains, the small town of Feltre allows residents to escape the doom and gloom.
Daniela Boyce has lived there for years. For her, nothing has changed.
Ã¢â¬ÅIÃ¢â¬â¢ve been travelling to Italy to see family and friends since I was a small child,Ã¢â¬Â she explains as she shows me round her impressive five-bedroom villa.Ã¢â¬ÅMy family live in and around here. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s breathtakingly beautiful.Ã¢â¬Â
ItÃ¢â¬â¢s the truth. The view of the Dolomites from her doorstep whips the air right out of your lungs. And it hasnÃ¢â¬â¢t gotten any less stunning since the recession struck.
The property itself is situated in a quiet, residential neighbourhood north of the medieval town centre. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s a quaint, traditional community. Once a year, thereÃ¢â¬â¢s even a pageant, she explains, complete with flag throwing. The rest of the year, the area is peaceful."IÃ¢â¬â¢ve spent many days just sitting outside admiring the view and then wondering down to the local gelateria to buy a freshly made ice cream,Ã¢â¬Â she confesses with a grin.
Who can blame her? The shops and amenities are only a quick walk away. In fact, with the local market twice a week, you barely need to travel anywhere to find food. ThatÃ¢â¬â¢s what the area is known for, she adds: Ã¢â¬ÅPolenta, wild mushroomsÃ¢â¬Â¦ and lots of well-known wines!Ã¢â¬Â
The villa naturally comes with enough space to store the odd bottle or 20: a large cellar, made up of three rooms (including laundry) could even be turned into a taverna, I venture. She doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t disagree.
We move through the spacious ground floor upstairs. If anything, the view gets even better from the private balconies Ã¢â¬â there are several, I soon discover, one for each double bedroom on the first floor and another for the double bedrooms on the upper floor. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s a hikerÃ¢â¬â¢s holiday home dream.
Ã¢â¬ÅThere are some great walking routes to be discovered,Ã¢â¬Â Daniela nods. Ã¢â¬ÅI read somewhere that the Dolomite region is the most ecologically advanced and environmentally forward-thinking area in Italy.Ã¢â¬Â
But even when the summer strolls are not an option, the property loses none of its charm, she points out, with skiing just a short ride away.That consistent appeal to overseas visitors is part of what makes Italy such a reliable destination for property investors. Even during times of financial uncertainty, people continue to visit the country. Indeed, the World Tourism Organisation ranked Italy as the fifth most popular destination in the world in 2012.
The size of the property makes it ideal for families as well as investors. Ã¢â¬ÅThe area is safe for small children to play in the quiet piazza out front,Ã¢â¬Â she reassures me as we swap the upstairs parquet floors for the tiled ground floor once more.I peruse some of the most recommended walking routes, tempted by thought of a quick jaunt across the landscape.
Ã¢â¬ÅItÃ¢â¬â¢s a good opportunity to get healthy!Ã¢â¬Â she laughs. Somewhere, politicians are saying the same thing about the eurozone. The only difference itÃ¢â¬â¢s made to Daniela is that houses in the area are more affordable: sheÃ¢â¬â¢s now reduced her asking price from ÃÂ£325,000 to ÃÂ£275,000.
But in 10 yearsÃ¢â¬â¢ time, when the economy is back in shape, that mountain view will still be the same.
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