The Renovation 

The Avis family bought Sant’ Elia in 2004, a derelict farmhouse close to Filottrano in the Marche region of Italy. A farmhouse, approximately 100 years old, unoccupied for thirty years. The property has just over four hectares, or nine acres, of land currently planted with corn.

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The property is south facing and boasts vast grounds and the family planned to completely renovate the property. plant 200 olive trees along with several rows of vines.

The house needed considerable attention. The walls were sound but the roof needed restoring and interiors needed a total ‘make over’.

The house is large; with three floors, and comes complete with its own pigsty, stable and grain silo, to be transformed into garage and storage (for tractors), lounge and swimming pool changing room and utility area. 


Where is Sant Elia?


Sant Elia is in Marche. Marche is a region in central Italy enclosed between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, it is a land rich in poetry, art and history, with a stunningly beautiful landscape.

The Marche province stretches some 120km from Pesaro in the north to Ascoli Pisceno in the south. Inland it stretches about 60km to Umbria and the Apennine Mountains. Within a 90 minutes drive of Sant’ Elia, there are the Sibillini Mountains where it is possible to ski in the winter.

The Marche is generally undeveloped, and this with its rolling hills, its many old fortified towns such as Urbino and Macerata, give it the name of  “Tuscany without the tourists”.



Filottrano is roughly in the centre of the Marche region, some 30 minutes from Ancona Airport and the Adriatic beaches and about two and half hours from Bologna in the north and Rome in the south.

Filottrano is a small fortified hill town overlooking the River Musone. It has a long history dating back to the Bronze Age. It was first settled by the Gauls, and then by the Etruscans in 295 BC. There are still remains of a ‘Gaulish necropolis’, or cemetery, together with Bronze Age settlements.

In recent history there was a ‘Battle of Filottrano’ in 1943, when a parachute division of the Italian Liberation Corps seized the town from Germans.

Filottrano is best known for its world renowned Two Wheel Cart Museum; but it also features on the cultural circuit. In 2003 it was on the Italian tour by the University of Southampton Symphony Orchestra. 

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The restoration plans

Ground Floor

The lounge will be large (9 metres by 4.5 metres) and connected by an existing arch to a reception room, and from there, to the dining room. On the other side of the dining room will be the ‘super big’ kitchen (6.7m metres by 4 metres), sufficient to house all of our cooks! The kitchen comes complete with an open pizza oven. 

The pigsty block will be knocked down; the ground will be excavated for a cellar, above which will be the new garage and tractor storeroom. Stairs will lead from the kitchen to the cellar.

In the construction of the garage, there will also be new stone steps leading from the front patio area to the terrace, which is directly over the kitchen.

To the front of the house, which faces south, there will be a pergola covered patio area. From this patio area there will be a path and steps leading down to the swimming pool. The silo, which is to the right of the house, will be knocked down, and in its place will be built a pool changing room and conservatory.



Ground Floor Plan

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First Floor

Existing stone stairs lead to the first floor where there will be four bedrooms; three double and one single, plus three bathrooms (two for Chloe). The main bedroom and one other will have roofs of exposed beams rising to 5 metres high.


Also on the first floor, directly over the kitchen, is a terrace facing west, which can be accessed from the main bedroom, and separately by steps from patio between the kitchen and garage. 

First Floor Plan

Access to terrace from master bedroom and bathroom, and via steps from patio.

Access to terrace from master bedroom and bathroom, and via steps from patio.

Terrace and terrace garden

The terrace

The terrace

First meal on the terrace

First meal on the terrace

Second Floor

Stone steps currently lead to the top bedroom. After renovation, a new staircase will access this room, and the existing stone steps will lead from the master bedroom to a new galleried studio with balcony overlooking the master bedroom.

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Second Floor Plan

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House Exterior


Land and Garden

On the front of the house, plans were to have a patio area covered by a pergola and swimming pool. Some of the land will become garden, but what the property needed were more olive trees (not more than 200). The property originally had ten mature olive trees and these will be harvested in November. Each tree will produce about 10 to 15kg of olives, and each 10kgs of olives will produce about 2kg of oil. We plan to produce enough oil for the whole family, that’s why we need 200 trees we will call it ‘René’s Extra Virgin Oil’.

One acre of vines should produce 7,000 bottles, which the family originally planned to call ‘René’s White Wine’, or perhaps ‘René’s Red Wine’ (depending on the colour). 

Restoration work starts 


Sant Elia now