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La nuova Florida
The new Florida? It's the Marche Region. From Il Corriere della Sera. Alessandra Farkas

NEW YORK - John Williams, a 62 years old chiropractor from Pennsylvania, moved to a cottage with a hectare and a half of a centenary olive grove on the outskirts of Senigallia, near to the sea, where he produces olive oil and fruit preserves together with his wife and his two teenage sons. " I arrived in the Marche for a vacation and decided to stay - tells the doctor - today I wouldn't live anywhere else on earth".  To keep him company, there could soon be an army of his fellow countrymen, after which the AARP, the influential bible of the American retired people (35.6 million subscribers), chose the Italian region among the "five earthly paradises" where to live after retirement, together with Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), Languedoc-Roussillon Region (France), Boquete (Panama) and Cascais (Portugal).

The reason:" The Marche Region has everything: Beautiful beaches, lovely vineyards, lots of art and architecture, some of the best seafood dishes of the Italian cuisine and even snowy mountains for winter sports". And if all this is not enough, explains Barry Golson the AARP journalist, author of Retirement without Borders and Gringos in Paradise, "the Marche has an excellent climate, a good public health system, outdoor opera festivals and affordable prices". For millions of Italophiles baby-boomer who have seen their savings evaporated with the Wall Street crisis, the Marche is the smart alternative to the expensive Tuscany, "now prohibitive throughout the year", points out AARP, and Umbria "similarly very expensive". It seems almost a commercial for a new Florida. An ironic coincidence after the scorching dispute burst in Italy at the beginning of the year for the very expensive commercial with Dustin Hoffmann as the testimonial of the Marche Region, reading Giacomo Leopardi's poem L'infinito with wrong metrics and words and twisting the poem to the point of inducing even Mina to come out from her legendary exile to denounce him. Seen from America, even that flop has ended up to help the image of a region "trendy enough-writes AARP- to catch Hoffmann as the testimonial".

The star of Midnight Cowboy and Rain Man is certainly not the only one to declare himself "in love with that land with no equals". The first to "discover it" was the writer John Moretti who in his book Living Abroad in Italy written in 2004, dedicated an entire chapter to the Marche with practical advice on how to open a holiday farm house and a list of real estate agents. A year later the New York Times published a long article entitled Is Le Marche the Next Tuscany?, remaining for days on the top chart of the most read articles of its website. Riding the new Americans passion is also Lidia Bastianich, the superchef of Italian origins, who dedicated many episodes of her popular show Lidia's Italy to the Marche cuisine. For the chiropractor Williams it is above all a question of numbers: "If you exclude the cost of the house, you just need 20.000 dollars a year to live, although with a higher income you can live better". It seems almost impossible; 40 dollars for a dinner for two, rentals from 600 dollars and houses for sale for 150.000 dollars. The problem, if there is one, is to hurry up before the Marche become "the new Umbria".

Alessandra Farkas


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