Friday, July 17, 2009

A Small Place in Italy

Eric Newby was a wonderful travel writer who chronicled his experiences as an escaped prisoner of war being protected and housed by Italians in his famous book, Love and War in the Apennines. His sequel of sorts was A Small Place in Italy, where Newby tells of returning to Italy with his wife to buy a casa. With characteristic dry wit and descriptive character sketches, he recounts the restoration of the ruined farmhouse and the bureaucracy and friends they meet with along the way.

I pulled it out of a box in the attic because it's been several years since I first read his narrative. I enjoyed it a lot back then, more so than other (uh...shall we say more self-possessed? Pompous?) memoirs about buying and restoring property in Italy. I'm also paying more much more attention to the details than I did on my initial reading.

Remember in this post when I told you we made an impulse buy of a special keepsake? Well, we bought a house! Okay, actually it is a very small apartment, but it is a habitable piece of property nonetheless. We looked at it during our sojourn in Basilicata and debated over it for a few weeks. We made the decision to buy just 16 hours before we left the country. It may seem crazy to you, but it made perfect sense to us, and it definitely made it easier to board that plane, let me tell you.

Oh yeah, did I mention that we made the purchase agreement over the phone? We had already met with the owner, who resides in Rome, and she took a liking to us. We stayed and chatted with her for a few hours, talking about all manner of things, and by the time we departed she had invited us to her vacation home in northern Le Marche.

For some reason - now we are not sure why - we debated over it for another solid week (after meeting the owner) while we packed and stored our stuff. Finally, the day before we were due to leave we looked at each other and said, "Good grief, what is there to debate about? It's cheap, it's actually habitable, and it is in a location we love." And so that decided it.

That, along with the fantastic view from the windows. And, the key selling point for Bryan, it comes with two cantine, hewn right into the rock hillside, where generations upon generations have stored their vino and prosciutto and other goods. It is also in easy reach of my ancestral villages.

We are waiting on the paperwork, but we will soon have our own small place in Italy and we couldn't be happier about it. While our lives are currently in flux, the one place on earth we know we will return to for the rest of our lives is Basilicata, (the motherland) and we have a home to go back to.


Barbara said...

Wow - what great news! and now you're connected to Italy in yet another way, and sooner or later all those strings will pull you back to Italy for good!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

auguri! that is amazing news (and very inspirational).

barb cabot said...

Hello, we don't know each other but I am a fellow slowtraveller and have been following your blog for sometime. I am so very happy to hear this news. I know it means the world to you. What a wonderful purchase. I just wanted to say I'm thrilled for you. Enjoy your little piece of paradise!
Barb Cabot

Karen (South of Rome) said...

I'm so very happy for you!! Congratulations for having the guts to live life the way you want to. Sometimes I think we take time making decisions b/c we keep thinking it doesn't jive with the life we (or others) think we should be living. We had an opportunity to buy an olive grove in Sicily and didn't do it. It's not a life long regret, but it is def. a regret. Who knows, maybe one day. In the meantime, I'm v. happy for you!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just clicked on to your blog for a quiet read about your settling back into life in the USA and WHAM!

Amazing news, and I am thrilled for you.


Louise at Abbastanza Buono said...

So thrilled for you! It really is "different" owning that small piece of Italian real estate. Takes one from being a tourist to truly planting roots. Can't wait to hear of your further adventures. Tanti auguri e in bocca al lupo, Louise

Laura said...

Ciao Valerie! Wow!! What fantastic news!! You have put a big grin on my face. It must feel so good knowing you have your place here. And I am so happy you will be down south! :-) Thanks for sharing your wonderful news!

Valerie said...

Barbara - Yes, it's a connection I really needed. Can't wait to get back over there.

Ragazza - Thanks! But you've inspired me with your driver's license. I'll have to do that when we get back.

Barb - So nice to hear from you. Thanks for your well-wishes (and for posting a comment...come back anytime!)

Karen - I think you're right. So-called logic sometimes gets in the way of life. I hate living with regret!

Sheena - Sorry to ruffle up your quiet reading time! I like to throw the curve balls every now and then. ;)

Louise - Thanks. Since we already have family roots there, buying property just made sense. I'm a nester, so this little haven is just what I was craving.

Laura - Thanks for sharing our joy! We're thrilled that we'll be in the Mezzogiorno, too.

janie said...

I'm so happy for you-i sounds perfect! Hopefully some day we will be driving by after being in Calitri ad stop in to say hello!

Valerie said...

Janie - Thanks. Yes, definitely come see us! Calitri isn't very far away at all. We actually looked at some properties there, as well. Would love to see you and John again!

Lost in Sicily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lost in Sicily said...

Congratulations! What a stunning view, and by the way you describe it, it doesn't sound crazy one bit. Look forward to reading more about your home in Basilicata

Megan in Liguria said...

That is wonderful news Valerie! Hopefully for a quick return to the motherland for you!

inguaribile said...

Great News!!!!!!!!!!

Valerie said...

Lost in Sicilia - Thanks! I'm glad to hear it's not so crazy to someone other than us! The view is unbelievable. That was the selling point for me, while Bryan was all about the cantine. ;)

Megan - Thanks, I hope so too!

Inguaribile - Grazie!

Anonymous said...

Whoo Hoo! Way to go Valerie!

Ice Tea For Me said...

Valerie - this is great news, how exciting to know you have a home to go home to in Italy.

I can't wait to read a future story of the 'fun' time you had in the purchasing process and to see some pictures of your new humble abode.

Congratulations to you and Bryan.


michelle | bleeding espresso said...

Yaaaaay! Auguri! How wonderful! Woohoo!

Can you tell I'm excited for you? ;)

Valerie said...

Kendall - Grazie!

Linda - It is exciting. The purchase is still a process; I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Michelle - Thanks! We're going to be neighbors! (Sort of. ;)