Today we are going to share with you our interview with Mark Makepeace, a well-known name in the financial services sector. In 2016, thanks to the cooperation with Great Estate, he purchased an amazing villa with his wife Rachel near the Tuscan hamlet of Cetona: “Villa Albertella”. Now that more than 4 years have passed, we would like to hear about his opinion on his real estate investment in our country. The interview.
In 1995, Mark founded FTSE International and took it from a small UK start-up to become one of the largest and most successful global index providers. Mark has other active business interests and affiliations. He is also an honorary vice-president and long‐time supporter of the children’s charity, UNICEF.
So, a very important person that Great Estate is honoured to boast among its TOP buyers! After about four years of purchasing this charming villa in Southern Tuscany, we interviewed him.
- Welcome, Mark. Your biography is really jaw-dropping! Would you like to tell us something about your professional career?
Thank you. You are very kind. I started my career in local government in a run down inner city area in south London where I helped disadvantaged people with their housing problems. I made quite a big change in my career when I joined the London Stock Exchange in 1985. I helped to co-ordinate changes in the financial system in London known as “Big Bang.” This opened up the City of London to international competitors and created a huge international trading centre in London. Thereafter I have worked in finance around the world.
In 1995 I created FTSE, which has become one of world’s largest index providers. I was its Chief Executive from the beginning when it was a small start-up company until January 2019 when I stood down. By that time FTSE Russell, as it is now called, employed over 1,000 staff in all the major financial centres in the world. Since stepping down I have written a book ‘FTSE: The Inside Story’ which is to be published in November this year and is available on Amazon. Here is the link to my book. And I hope to launch my next venture later this summer!
- Some years ago, your financial knowledge suggested that you invest in Italy. Right here, in Tuscany, you then decided to purchase a stunning villa in the countryside near Cetona. Why did you choose to do so?
Of all the offices I ran around the world, Milano was my favourite. It was a combination of the wonderful people and amazing culture in Italy. So my wife Rachel and I started exploring Italy more. Venice, Rome, the Amalfi Coast are all beautiful places that everyone should visit and enjoy at least once in their lives. We fell in love with Italy and started to spend more time here. Increasingly we were drawn to Tuscany. It was fun exploring the cities such as Firenze, Siena, Arezzo, Cortona, San Gimignano, Lucca, and Montepulciano. And the countryside was breathtakingly beautiful and the people were warm and friendly. Finally, we settled on Cetona. It is a beautiful small town and it is easy to meet and make new friends here. It is also easy to access from around the world flying in and out of Roma. And the new fast train service on the Frecciarossa from Chiusi provides easy access to Rome, Firenze, Milano, and further.
Our villa overlooks the picturesque town and the views are stunning. Every morning when I wake up and every evening over aperitivo I still marvel at the breathtaking view. My wife always says that she feels like she is walking on an oil painting.
- As a successful manager, how would you rate the services that Chiara Pompili and, more in general, Great Estate offered you during the whole purchasing process?
Chiara, Stefano, and the whole team at Great Estate have been marvellous. They helped us find the region in Tuscany that was right for us. We each got to know each other and they introduced us to different properties and areas to help us understand the choices available and what we really wanted. Once we knew that, they were able to find us a property that was perfect for us. It wasn’t even on the market until they approached the owner.
And they didn’t stop there. They helped us find Stefano and Giorgia, two very special people, who look after our property for us. They introduced us to people to manage our olive groves and produce our olive oil. They introduced us to Emanuela Miani who designed and renovated our villa so it was perfect for us. And they continue to help us, introducing us to local artists, furniture makers, and interesting neighbours.
- We know that, during these four years, your wife and you renovated the house while enjoying it as much as you can. Would you like to tell us what it means to you to own and live in this property?
I live a busy life and time is very precious to me. Wherever I am in the world I always look forward to returning to Cetona. The pace of life is very different here and your priorities change. Life evolves around fabulous food, delightful wine, and wonderful company, whether it is family or friends. We enjoy having lots of visitors but it is also wonderful to have the place to ourselves and just relax and explore the local area. It is also a launchpad for exploring Italy. Day trips to Rome or an evening or two spent in Firenze are wonderful excursions.
- After more than four years since your purchase, if you could go back, would you do the same investment? Why?
Absolutely. Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner!
- As a global finance expert, what do you think about the future of the Italian luxury real estate market?
Personally, I think there has probably never been a better time to buy. Prices are very reasonable and there is enough property on the market to give you a wide range of choices. In fact, last year we set up a company called Hidden Hills with our interior designer and friend, Emaneula Miani and her son Nathan, to buy and convert properties in the region.
- To conclude, do you think that an international client should currently invest in Italy and, to be more specific, in a location as the one where your villa stands?
Location is everything.
Finding something spectacular, or that you can make spectacular, is very special and will be something you and your family and friends can enjoy for a long time.
It has changed our lives and we feel very lucky to be able to enjoy the wonderful life here.