STARTING ALL OVER

On a typically cool Welsh Mayday of 2013 we packed the last pieces of furniture into our large old Ldv van the only item we had kept from our previous business. How have we been thankful of this over the last couple of years? The van was filled with diesel and pointed in the direction south for what we thought would be its last main journey and us we were ready for one of the biggest adventures of our lives. Starting all over in a new country ‘Italy’ living in a rundown farmhouse, in the Piemonte hills surrounded by vineyards. With an ever decreasing budget to finance our ambitions and a very little knowledge of the language, but then we have always been a little crazy and if you don’t follow your dream well you will never have lived.april 2015 046

How did we get to this point – well myself I was introduced to Italy as a young child I had a father who was passionate about the country and I spent most of my childhood holidays there and as I grew older I found that I had inherited his passion, and obviously succumbed to its spell, I have carried my dream for many years to own my very special pink farmhouse in the Italian countryside. My husband Ian well took no persuading he is from Italian descent and so it just seemed to him like a natural transition returning to the homeland…

At first we thought a holiday home would be the answer but one cold , rainy evening after a very long day’s work followed by an even longer journey, weary from trying to make ends meet and just general business stress I shuddered and said to him

“Why are we doing this? “

His reply – “we can give it all up and move” –

“To Italy” I said

“If that is what you want”

I didn’t hesitate …… “Yes”. – And from that moment our life changed.

We started looking in Northern Tuscany around the area my husband’s family had originated but the prices where high, the place was too touristy and much anglicised. Not really the idea we had in mind.

So during a winter visit to Milan it was suggested to us to visit Piemonte as it had

easy access from the city. We decided to hire a car and headed for the Monferrato region arriving late in the evening. Through the darkness I could occasionally see the twinkling of buildings lining the mountainsides. We found an agriturismo (a farm B&B) which was somewhat damp and cold in the February air. The next morning impatient to see the countryside I flung open the window and caught my breath.

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I was surrounded by rolling hills adorned with vineyards, standing bare and stark against the brown earth and on each hillside was perched little villages with church spires and castle turrets painted in pinks, yellows and ochres, the frosty air and weak sunrays made everything glitter. I was smitten. We went out to explore, and found that Piemonte sits in a bowl surrounded almost completely by the peaks of the almighty Alps, that sparkle like mirages in the sunshine.

We toured the villages, the towns, and the countryside.

I fell in love with the romance, the quirkiness , the haphazard buildings all different colours, the churches and the castles, one higher than the other depending on the power of the church or the family, the flowers , the perfumes, the food, the wine, the people. Yes, it is all here the list is endless.

We both had no doubts we had found the location. So our search began which unbelievably took over a year. We viewed 26 houses and became the annoying “inglese” never satisfied before we finally found the one. You see, we had a long list of requirements to which we were continually adding. Our intention was to renovate the house creating a beautiful home surrounded by an English, Italian country garden that we can share with the visitors. – Paying I hope!!

Unfortunately we had to compromise to get the perfect place the compromise was the poor state of the building!!!! We bought a very derelict farmhouse sitting in over 6 acres of land which included 3 acres of vineyard that encircles the house like an amphitheatre. In March 2012 we signed for the property and our adventure began.

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I hope you continue to follow my posts as I tell the stories of our experiences. The good the bad and sometimes the ugly!!!

4 thoughts on “STARTING ALL OVER

  1. Ali Mazzoni

    Love the blog and so interesting. Lovely to read something positive about moving to Italy. So many scary stories about tax, insurance, healthcare etc. Finally our plans are in place for coming to Italy to view houses. Will be in your area around 23/03 .If there was any chance of meeting that would be wonderful. Ali

    Reply
    1. Julia Gilmour

      Hi Ali
      Really glad you find the blog useful. I do agree if you read the expat sites they literally scare you to death and i do believe people like to have a good winge. We have embraced the challenge and never looked back. Looking at your name I guess you have some Italian association so will no doubt have some help. Also we have a little group of expats here who are always willing to help and pass on experiences. My advice re health care(this is important) is if you are intending to live here permanently and you are not of pension age you will need a form from the national insurance office – they are located in Newcastle and it would be worth contacting them to check you have paid enough insurance payments to give you free health care here. Which by the way is excellent and clean!
      We would love to meet you when you come over, where are you staying? we could either meet in a bar or you are welcome to come to see the house.(or both) I am teaching on the 23rd but only in the morning so any time after two would be fine. Let me know and we can organise something. Julia

      Reply
      1. Ali Mazzoni

        Hi Julia
        Would either Friday afternoon 25th or Saturday 26th be suitable. We are staying in Vinchio and have hired a car. Love to meet in either a bar or would be lovely to see your home.
        (Not sure if you are aware I wrote a question on the Italy Magazine page about moving to Italy with my horses). Ali

        Reply

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