My husband spent many long summers in Italy as a boy. Although he wasn't born with a silver olive oil drizzler in his mouth or even an olive complexion, (I think it was more than a mosquito that got under his skin during those idyllic holidays in Rimini), Italy became a passion for him and after a visit to Venice and Tuscany so it was for me.
So, growing ever greyer (complexion and hair, the weather goes without saying) in England, it's not surprising that we dreamed about a life less fraught, of long, warm summers and a more docile lifestyle in Italy. OK, that's enough of the flowery stuff, as I said 'we dreamed'. Cutting to the chase, here we are living in Le Marche, Italy. It will be four years in May 2008 since we relocated here and to say that we have never looked back doesn't necessarily mean that we don't miss certain aspects of our 'past' life in East Sussex, it just means that we haven't had much time to reflect ~ or to feel sorry for ourselves!
Impetuosity, they say, comes with youth, so there was none of that. It was a fairly meticulously (is fairly meticulous do-able?) planned relocation. Armed with the necessary tools to 'make it work' ~ enough money (a vast amount is better and then you don't need to work), a moderate knowledge of the language, a builder (my husband) and a TEFL certificate (mine), we felt that we were prepared to face the challenges of making a living in a foreign country.
I ought to have mentioned that we had already purchased two properties, both relatively cheaply and very run down. Having the necessary building expertise, the idea was to 'turn around' the smaller of the properties within a year or at most eighteen months and sell it on, thus making a profit to plough into the larger property, which is where we would live in the meantime and which would become a holiday-let eventually. Careful planning may be the best way forward so long as it includes more than a little something for contingency, no, make that 'disaster recovery'. Best laid plans etc. and really, if it were that simple then I wouldn't be writing this blog!!!
A Geometra is like a cross between a surveyor, an architect and a bandit. You have to employ one to manage any major renovation works on a property, primarily because someone has to sign off any electrical, plumbing and construction works as conforming to standard. What you are not familiar with at this stage is how sadly their standards fall behind British standards. Our bandit, for the smaller house, told us that my husband would not be allowed to do the renovation work himself because he was not registered for work in Italy and would not be allowed to register since he is not Italian. Baloney, we discovered later but too late to rescue our over spent budget. Not all was lost however, my husband took over after the Italian builders had done their worst. It took us seven months to repair and finish the works at the house which included addressing some major damp issues. The house is delightful now. (see it 'Casa Renzo' under Properties for Rent on our http://www.dreamitalia.co.uk/ site) We sold it in September this year but it has taken four years from the date of purchase to renovate and sell it.
And so we move on to another chapter, our main house 'Casa Antonio'. My husband is now registered for work and we have a new bandit, er Geometra. Nearly four years experience behind us and things are following a more controlled course. Casa Antonio when it is finished will consist of two houses, the main house which will be available for rent, a converted garage which will be our home, a pool house, swimming pool, terraces and landscaped gardens.
Our first blog is a potted history covering three and a half years of our life in Le Marche which brings us to where we are now. Follow us through the renovation of our next major project, Casa Antonio.
Contact us if you have any questions or advice about living in Italy.
December blog ~ Casa Antonio and progress to date and the new underground garage. The Commercialista (business accountant) what he can do for you.