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It was a sleepy, Sunday afternoon when we visited Petritoli, a rather attractive hill town which has spread beyond the walls with streets like those below. Whether the town is much different on other days, I doubt.

The challenges these small, essentially medieval, towns in Le Marche face are really formidable. The traditional residents are moving out, either to find work or because they want to live in larger, newer houses close to larger conurbations. And there is simply not the volume of tourists and other visitors to support the regeneration of all these villages as tourist destinations (though the lack of businesses seeking to take advantage of tourist revenue is a continual surprise).

As a result, charming houses stand empty and for sale in every one of these villages; most look like they have been for sale a long time. One alternative use might be as holiday homes, and some efforts are being made in this direction. The incongruous Venetian-style Palazzo in the picture below was built in the 1880s and has been partially re-developed and is now for sale to an “international clientele”. I wish them luck, but I suspect the relatively few people coming into Le Marche to buy property are looking for something in the countryside. The future for towns like Petritoli, seems bleak.

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