Fresh New Look for Casa Bianca Kitchen

casa bianca kitchen

The renovation of the Casa Bianca kitchen is slowly coming along, we were aiming to have it finished before Sam’s parents arrived from Australia but then we each fell sick in turn. Sam did manage to get the finish on the wall and ceiling, and he has started the floor tiles (which look great) but we still have a bit to finish.

Sams parents are coming here for three months and we thought it easier for us and them if they stayed in our Loft Apartment rather than the Casa Bianca kitchen makeover at least for the time being. I’m looking forward to summer and getting some warmth back in my bones…. and some sunshine, that would be nice.

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casa bianca kitchen dbl 2Once we are all back on our feet I’ll update you with our adventures. Until then this is just a short post to let you know we are all still alive and kicking, just taking it easy for a little while then back to normal….whatever that looks like!

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I can’t wait for the summer to arrive and for new visitors to befriend, the mountain is alive with flowers and the valley is coming to life.

Hope all is well with you and life is treating you kindly, more to follow asap once we are all feeling 100%…..much love

Lisa signature 2and the gang x






Behind the Scenes: How to do an inexpensive makeover!

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Casa Bianca kitchen make over


An Inexpensive Makeover at Casa Bianca (Part One)

Why an Inexpensive Makeover?

Sam’s parents are coming over from Australia, that’s WHY!

It’s been three years since we’ve seen them and they are arriving here in the last week of March. They will be staying with us for three months. So they need a space of their own.

With our Loft Apartment taking bookings and our own house with only two bedrooms we need a place for them to stay in comfort and close by.

So Sam came up with the idea of a temporary inexpensive makeover at Casa Bianca (our 4 thousand euro bargain house next door). The old kitchen will transform into a three month bedsit and they will of course eat in the main house with us.

Create a time frame

A time frame with a deadline always helps to get things moving and boy are things moving around here. I love nothing more than getting my hands dirty helping Sam with renovating. We completed a dozen renovations in Australia (living in all of them arghh). It’s a way of life that most people hate and would normally break up many couples, we seem to thrive.

The arrival of an early spring has me in cleaning mode, I’m astonished at how much ‘stuff ‘ has crept back into our life. I have to say I do love my ‘stuff ‘ and could never be a minimalist, but some of this just has to go.

Once Sam says he will do something it gets done, he has great organization skills and the know how to put it all into practice. They say men don’t multitask well but he has it to an art form, working on restoring the borgata, making lunch, picking up and dropping off the kids to school, making salami, preserves, and generally keeping everything running smoothly.

I am the calm on in the partnership, smoothing the way…

Totally clear the space

The first thing to be done is to totally clear the space.

Don’t work around things, and be sure to clean as you go.

We spent a day moving everything from the house up to our garage.

We’d been using Casa Bianca as storage for all the ‘treasures’ we found when we first arrived. So it was full of old bottles, baskets, furniture, an original bed frame, old suitcases, and a multitude of bits and bobs.

Visualize the space

Planning the space will save you time and frustration later, it’s fairly easy to do this on a computer or even just sketched out in a notebook.

Gather inspiration and look for ideas, I have hundreds of images, I take after my Mum as she always has a notebook in her handbag to jot down any ideas she sees. I keep my camera with me and take photos of things I like and ‘pin’ things I see online to my Casa Bianca inspiration board on Pinterest.

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If you are working on any project Pinterest is a great way to keep everything together, just be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole and become one of those people who sit online pinning all day.

Keep the purpose in mind, although at a latter date the house will be restored as a whole for now we need to create a space for Sams parents.

The Casa Bianca of my dreams will still happen, just not now.

Keeping costs low

Reuse as many items as possible, we seem to throw nothing away here at the Borgata. In our own home we took the old board up from the floor in the lounge and ended up sanding them back and reusing them as a benchtop and shelving.

Call in some helpers, we have a great community of friends here who give us a hand in return for us helping them out. It’s a collaborative community and it helps us keep costs low.

Shop online for prices and don’t be afraid to haggle (Sam has this to an artform). Be aware that locals will get a better price so get a local friend to go with you to the local stores for the first few times.

Keeping it Simple

Using a simple color pallette will help keep costs down, the room will be recoated white and the texture gives it some depth.

This also means that we can use left over products on other renovations.

We can then add warmth with elements like soft furnishings or decorative elements on the walls.

Our Inexpensive Makeover – What we’ve has Done so far!

» Taken out the old window and security bars and replaced it with a ready made double glazed window from Bricoman which helped us to save on costs.

» Totally cleared the room of stored items like an old bed, the original windows, and items from other renovations.

» Removed the old staircase to the upper floor which was twisted and rotting. Cut up the wood to be used as firewood.

» Cleared the sink area, removing the sink and pipes.

» Taken out the old pantry cupboard, removing the doors and shelves to make a wardrobe  space.

» Sanded the wooden window ledge back to original timber ready for a clear coating.

» Scraped the walls and ceiling free of ridges and filled holes.

» Refinished the walls with stabilatura, a mixture that you trowel on.

» Currently replacing old flooring with ceramic tiles. These will be harder wearing than a floating floor. Bricoman had a good range and we found something we liked for 13 euro a square meter.

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Casa Bianca Kitchen

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So that’s it for our Inexpensive Makeover #1,

I’ll be posting the follow up next week. Sam has already started laying the floor tiles and they look great. Carina thinks the room would be a great teenager ‘flat’….I told her not a hope till she’s at least 16 lol.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow along with the adventures, many things are in the works for 2016 here at Borgata Malpertus.

I’ll be posting the completion of our ‘mini apartment’ at Casa Bianca as we go, Sam is next door right now laying the floor tiles. Oh and it’s snowing which is why he has the little wood stove connected (yep borrowed from our friends).

Hope you enjoyed the post, I’m trying a new informative style for some of my writing here at Renovating Italy along with the diary style…..let me know what you think and if you have any questions or thoughts I’d love you to leave them below, and a share would be great.

love as always….

Lisa signature 2and the gang x


Casa Bianca – renovating Italian houses


Renovating Italian Houses has become a little like renovating our lives

Slowly stripping back to the essentials, seeing what is missing, and adding a touch of love.

Finding the bare bones.

Seeing what can be done with what you’ve got.



Restoring an old home means removing the signs of a life hard lived.

A fresh start, enhancing the beauty, removing the barriers.

Finding what is really important, enhancing that, recreating the space.


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Renovating Italian Houses means letting in the sunshine.

Clearing layers of misunderstanding.

Deciding on our own future and moving constantly in that direction.

Finding our happiness.



Renovating in our beloved Italy means gathering friends.

Sharing stories, bringing laughter back.

Creating new echos.



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Renovating Italian houses means replacing what doesn’t work.

Blending old and new.

Creating a view beyond normal life.


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some further inspiration:

Restoring a Home in Italy

Italian Country Living

Signatureand the gang x

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Life is full of beautiful moments

Life is full of beautiful moments

 this is why we came to Italy

for our Children,
for a simpler lifestyle

to find ‘us’ again…..

I love messy, I love life and dirt and skinned knees, I love my kids playing outside, rounding up chickens, open hearts, a treasure hunt every day, joy in each simple thing, picking beans and eating them raw and crunchy, handfuls of blackberries the red juice staining our hands, brisk cold water from the fountain.

Wonderful, beautiful moments.

Winter is coming, the leaves are turning and falling in little drifts. Luca throws them in the air laughing as they fall around him, he knows they mean summer is coming to an end. It’s hard to imagine that soon enough we will have snow, that the valley will turn silent and white, the summer holiday makers will disappear and we will have the place to ourselves.

Three eggs, snails in the orto, a puppy with needle sharp teeth, a dead kitten, our friend Italo and his family raking the hay by hand, the river is the brightest blue green, the head of the sunflower needed to be brown before cutting, Claudio’s dog sneaks in to eat our dogs food, I hear the tractors coming in from the pasture below the borgata.

Winter is coming.

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Yet still I dream, of our house turned into a home, putting down roots and having a place where we belong.

Our gift is being able to see through the rubble, the chaos, and the mess to the beauty hidden within.

Our current reality and the dream…. one day the two will merge.

I’ll find that peaceful place, share vino with friends and family, sit back on my deck chair and start planning our next adventure.

Beautiful Moments

Keeping dreams alive, tending them carefully, moving them forward each day……that’s the secret.


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Our ‘Casa Bianca’ continues to reveal herself.

Sam and Sean (our workaway guy) have been working to clear the cellar of rubbish.  This will be the bathroom, with it’s vaulted ceiling and odd little alcoves.

With the doorway being so low we needed to raise it a little. Now you can walk down the few steps without stooping. It’s a little hard to show the actual room as it’s quite dark and only has a small light source.

Oh and that hole Sam is putting the stick down, that’s about a meter cubed of number two’s.

Luckily I don’t have to worry about that, a good job for the boys.

If you really want to see what it’s like inside then you can take a look at this little video I made.

I’ve been through many renovations but nothing like this, warning don’t watch right after eating.

The floor has been lowered a little to give some extra headroom, and yes I can already see past the mess.

This house will be gorgeous.

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Until next time

Beautiful Moments

Signatureand the gang x

dare to dream


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Rustic Italy – Stay with Us – an update

Stay with Us

“Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary”

Robin Williams – Dead Poets Society


It feels like a new phase of our life here in the valley is underway at the moment.

A positive feeling of accomplishment, moving forward and creating new dreams.

Most of our concern to date has been creating an income of some kind. We are living on the funds from the sale of our last renovation in Australia, this won’t last much longer.

Our  aim is to create a way that we can travel and enjoy our life here in the valley using the internet to build an income.

I’d love to build a community of fellow dreamers, those who want to take the dream to reality.

I never thought we’d be able to come so far so fast, and with such little funds.

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We finally got to view our episode of House Hunters International.

The DVD arrived last week on Sam’s birthday which was perfect timing.

It’s such a strange experience seeing yourself on TV, we had no idea how they would edit the five days worth of filming into a half hour show. I’m happy to say they did a brilliant job, not missing anything and showing us in a good light.

We all cracked up at the end with Luca’s catch cry, just brilliant.

Yippeeeeee Dooodle………PRICELESS

If you didn’t get to see the episode leave a comment below and we’ll try to work something out.

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Although it’s been messy it looks fantastic.

Work has progressed on ‘Casa Bianca’ and so much has been happening here in the Borgata. Sam has removed the front of the building on one side. It was an awful job and parts were falling off, just tapping the surface showed how easily it would come down. Now the face of the building looks more authentic. Claudio is going to sandblast the remaining concrete away to expose the original rock.

Our lovely ‘Turin Guy’ who has bought part of the Borgata (including the small house directly opposite our big double gates) plans to take the exterior wall down and have it rebuilt in September. The original road will be closed for a short time while the work is done. At the moment it bows out a bit and needs some TLC.

It seems like the Borgata is coming to life, getting a little facelift and gathering new people.

In the meantime we continue cleaning out the sheds, the house and getting ready for future visitors.

We hope one day you’ll be able to stay with us.


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Why did we wait so Long?

Recently we bit the bullet and created a Host Page on Workaway. If you haven’t heard of Workaway it basically links up those wanting to work in exchange for three meals a day and a place to sleep. Our very first work away person arrived last Friday, we picked him up from the train station after having a brief conversation on Skype the night before. He will stay with us until September.

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He’s been fantastic, he and Sam have been out each day working in the borgata. Together they have built a wall, and pulled the front render from ‘Casa Bianca’. They have also done some cleaning inside ready for later painting, and done a bit of renovation work in the entrance. I wish we’d done this when we first arrived.

Workaway is a brilliant idea and one I would have used back in my 20’s when I was backpacking if only it were available then. I wonder how many people would like to stay with us here through Winter and experience the snow, celebrate with a white Christmas and really get the full idea of life in the mountains.

Our Workaway chap (I’ll pop his name in once he’s okay with that) helped Sam ‘dispatch’ the rabbits ready to go into the freezer. Funnily enough he adores animals and our cats and the dog just radiate towards him.

It’s been great having someone to chat with in English, and the locals in the Borgata are a bit perplexed by the whole idea. I can envision a whole team of Workaway people coming to stay once the locals cotton on.

We’ve got more done in the past few days than in the last six months.

It just helps to motivate us having someone here, Sam loves the company and I love the conversations at meal times.

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onion beans

I’ve also continued with my love of ‘personal development’ and I’ve been rethinking how much time I give to the most important aspects of my life. Where I need to spend more time and where my passions are.

Now it’s more time for the kids, we take a walk together most days and I’ve been cutting back my time online. I now try to check in on our Renovating Italy facebook page (my big passion) only a few times through the day. I’d rather be out living life here with my family, creating new projects, and then connecting online again in the evening.

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How about you?

are you heading towards or away from your dreams?

What are they…… Carpe Diem xx

and the gang x




Rustic Farmhouse – Clearing out Casa Bianca

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No matter the set backs with our rustic farmhouse we always keep moving forward. Over the past month I’ve been out of action with a mystery illness. Sam has continued to work on ‘Casa Bianca’ next door to our house, we hope to have it habitable so friends and family can come to stay with us and experience life here in the valley we love so much. Lots of work to be done, nothing new for us but we will be taking it slowly till I’m recovered. Maybe I can come in at the end for the ‘house dressing’….I don’t mind missing out on all the cleaning.

Bianco on the outside and gelati flavored on the inside, the latest addition to our rustic farmhouse is just a delight. Sam has been clearing the rubbish from inside the house and the main rooms are now cleared. Four tractor loads so far. Under these stairs are two cellars which are crammed with more rubbish, the doorways are tiny and I haven’t even taken a look. The doors and windows need replacing, every surface needs a good clean and the whole place needs flea bombing.

This room will be gutted, cleaned, painted and something needs to be done with the flooring. All of the rubbish has been cleared out and only the old fridge and cabinet are still in here now. I’m already imagining the transformation photos, I’m picturing the rustic farmhouse of my imagination, somewhere friends and family can come to visit and experience life in the valley. We’ve left all the windows open to start to air it out. It will take shape quickly once cleaned, then we start looking at new sink, and furnishings.


I like the old fireplace, everything else will get pulled out and we’ll start from scratch. The doorway leads into the stairwell and across from this room is another largish airy room that was used as a bedroom. The window looks out over the old original road. After so many renovations this doesn’t phase me at all, although now being unwell I haven’t been able to help out, just supervise from a distance for short periods of time before heading back inside to rest.

One house in Australia that we wanted to buy was beyond belief. We were given access and removed cubic tonnes of rubbish, ended up using a gurney on the walls and the family that lived in the house were hoarders. The house had such a horrific history that I always felt creepy being in it and was actually glad when the contract fell through. One wall had a tombstone drawn complete with a child’s name and date of death, we found out later that the owners had ten foster kids. I always expected to move something and find a body in that house.

So we’ve been through many renovations in Australia and now this is our third rustic farmhouse in Italy, hopefully our last for a few years.

The staircase up to the main bedroom has a small lean, and seems to also have a bit of a twist. It’s an art form making it to the top level without whacking your head on the ceiling, Sam has a few new scars. Ahhh the master bedroom…..what can I say?

Everything is going, the furniture will be broken up so we can get it out, and then used for firewood. The room is actually quite big and although it has the most mold we think it’s coming from a leak somewhere in the rock roof. I’m not sure what will happen with the old stairs, perhaps a spiral staircase instead.

Thank you again for all your well wishes and love, I’m still struggling with exhaustion, and now a bad cough, aches and pains, and menopause thrown into the mix…..Bonus. Having just about given up hope I sent out some messages to our English speaking friends and guess what found a Doctor (I thought he was a musician lol) and I hope to get some thoughts about what might be going on with my health. It’s been almost four weeks now since I went to the hospital and I don’t feel much better. Something has to give……hopefully it won’t be me.

and the gang x


My 50th Birthday – putting Paris on hold

The Birthday Bash and PARIS on hold

On the eighteenth I turned fifty, it almost seems like it didn’t happen. With all the build up and excitement about going to Paris driving me the last few months celebrating at home and then sleeping through the afternoon was a bit of a bummer. Sam and the kids made a cake, Carina set the table with pink party plates and she had the Eiffel tower made from marshmallows on the top of the cake…..the perfect breakfast.

Some gorgeous home made presents and cards, and some wonderful surprises from friends and family arrived in the mail. Having kids means you can’t be flat for your birthday, Sam made my favorite Carbonara for lunch and then I went to bed. Enough said… I am re celebrating in July hopefully in Paris and will work out a new time for the portraits with Carla Coulson.

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Running on Empty

I’ve been off the radar for a bit, well two weeks anyway. After a hospital visit with a high temperature, exhaustion and unable to walk I had a chest ex-ray and two different women trying to do blood gas tests in the artery in my wrists. They tried three times and it was excruciating each time, eventually they told me I didn’t have pneumonia and I could go home.  This was on the fourth of June.

On the nineteenth of June after continuing to feel exhausted, having problems with both my hands that resulted in a trip to the neurologist at the hospital (they tell me everything is fine with the nerves in my hands and the problem should just go away) the local Dr tells me that nothing is wrong with me, that I’ve been telling her I’m feeling tired for some time now, that my blood pressure is always low, and that I probably had a virus and the rest is just menopause as nothing shows in the blood tests. Hmmmmm Thanks!

So I’m none the wiser and she told me to give it three weeks and rest and see what happens.

Actually the entire conversation was between Sam and the Dr and I just tuned right out….in fact I almost walked out in despair. I feel I need to regroup, and take charge of my own health. They don’t keep records here when you visit the doctor, so I’m writing it all down from now on.

A lovely friend I spoke with on skype yesterday told me I looked like an empty vessel….to take time out and absorb some love and sunshine and just rest a bit. I don’t have any choice right now, even the shortest walk exhausts me, and I am certainly no energizer bunny right now.

Oh and to top it all off Sam and I both had conjunctivitis which is going around, (which is why my eyes are puffed up in the pics) and I have a head cold.

The good thing is that I am ever optimistic and know this will pass, and I’m learning some unexpected lessons along the way.

The White House

Yesterday we had to sign the paperwork for the white house, it’s such a funny lengthy process which took place in Pinerolo about 40 minutes drive away. We dropped the kids off at friends, and spent over an hour at the Notaio going through the entire contract with nine people in total in the room.

One was an elderly lady that looked like she was about to faint from the heat. It turned out I didn’t actually need to be there, but having heard so much about the other times we’ve bought property in Italy I was totally bemused to see the process in action. So we now have access to the ‘White House’ and took a look inside after we got home.

Although it looks like a nightmare right now, Sam cleared out much of the rubbish and we are starting to see the rooms under the mess left behind. He loaded much of it onto the blue tractor with a pitchfork and a full load was only the tip of the iceberg. The building has three rooms in total, no bathroom at all and two cellars underneath that are full of rubbish.

As you enter the building and go up a flight of stairs a room on the right is now cleared, it is actually very light and airy. To the left you enter a kitchen area and from that room go up a very crooked staircase to the main bedroom.

This is the worst room and is black with mold, the balcony is dangerous and Sam blocked it off. Once emptied, cleaned and painted we will be able to get a feel for the potential. I’m staying clear of the process at the moment.

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Online Overwhelm

I’m hoping this post won’t seem disjointed, I’ve opened the computer many times in the last few days to write a post and just shut it again. The first week I was sick just opening my inbox had me in tears, it seemed like everyone was shouting, that all the conversations and groups and posts I love to read would suck me completely into a vortex. The more everyone reached out the further inwards I shrank. I felt like I was going mad, up down, crying, tired, over wrought, and emotionally wrung out.

All the excitement I felt within B-School fell in a heap, the momentum I had going dropped out from under me and I thought I’d never get back here to writing again. My constant refrain right now is Piano Piano….(slowly slowly) so if you sent me a message or email know that I read what I could but just couldn’t bring myself to answer, I just didn’t want to speak with anyone, it all seemed so exhausting. Know that I thank you all so much for all the well wishes and suggestions, the concern and love, it makes a difference even if I couldn’t tell you at the time.

The Simple Life

Funnily enough since feeling so tired I have really looked at our life here, the simplicity we wanted to create has slipped into each of us being on the computer more than out enjoying our simple lifestyle. Taking small walks each day to the top of the road and back reminds me of why we are here in the first place, it’s to engage with life, to breathe in the mountain air, to grow our food, to be with our kids, to be healthy and  happy together, and to share this with others wanting a similar dream.

Maybe we are all too hard on ourselves, even here in the valley those bad habits followed us, as I get better and stronger I’ll be sharing more of our simple life as we find it for ourselves. After a year and a half here in Italy I am totally in love with my life, the valley and know this is the place we are meant to be, creating a simple life in Italy. When I think of us here over years to come I see this first year as a learning curve.

Each of us has our own stresses, health issues, family drama’s, dreams we are chasing, dysfunctional families, or what ever other things you’re dealing with daily…..I’m sharing with you so that you know you are not alone, and once shared love and compassion flow from a community so beautiful and connected, without everyone here life would be less full, less inspiring, and who would I talk with LOL……..

So rambling post over, now I am back on the bike so to speak I’m sure the next one will be easier and feel more natural.

I continue to take it slowly, hope if you are weary you can take the time to slow down and rest, regroup, and come back stronger than ever.

and the gang x





Italian Renovation – we buy the white house

An Italian Renovation


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The White House [Casa Bianca]

Recently the house next to ours came up for sale, the neighbors have moved to the town and the agent let us know it was for sale. Another Italian Renovation and of course we were interested but hadn’t thought it would come up for at least a few years. So we had to do a very fast scramble to try to get enough money to put a deposit and buy it.

We have a contract and once it goes through we can start the next part of “the project” here. It has two bedrooms, a kitchen lounge area, and two cellars underneath (one is the small lower window). Plenty of work to be done cleaning it up and giving it a cosmetic inexpensive make over.

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The Property

The property includes the house and out buildings on the other side of our house,  and a small building directly opposite our large double gates. It also includes various bits of land some with apple trees, and Sam is in his element with plans for our future ‘orto’ (veggie gardens) and fruit trees. Another thing that is a premium here is parking spaces and a garage type shed, so we now have enough work to do for a while.

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The Outbuildings

This shed is missing the floor between the two levels and needs a good clear out, as with our other Italian renovation this one was a bargain. It is accessed via the lane way which we can now clean up.

Previously the neighbors had dogs tied here in the lane way and as they couldn’t take them to the new place they offered us ‘Fiume’ the shaggy white guy who is now part of our family. He is very happy and has settled in with us, Sam and Carina are training him as he is only young, he is a lovely excuse to go for long walks and he adores Sam.

We have also gained another cat, the little tortoiseshell has joined Mishu and she is such a princess in comparison.

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This shed now has the makeshift boards taken down and to the left just inside is a door that leads into a large vaulted room. Above is a hay loft and above the vaulted room another large area that is open to the elements (now the roof has fallen in). As you can see we  have plenty to keep ourselves occupied and plenty of scope for these areas in the future. The best thing about this Italian renovation project is that it gets us dreaming.

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Plans for the Outbuildings

Sam would like to have this room for making the salami, I can imagine it with a big worktable and somewhere for workshops or friends to come and help us process all the food we will grow. We have so many ideas, and I’ll be sharing them with you once we get underway.

We will be clearing this area and keeping it open, I can see a courtyard with plants and a place to sit and relax. I quite like the original wall and window if we fix it up, Sam likes the idea of lowering the wall and putting a railing so you can see out, hmmmmm.

Fiume the Wonder Dog

This little white dog has already made such a difference to our lives and he is endlessly happy now he has some freedom. He is no longer chained in the lane way, and his tail hasn’t stopped wagging. His old owners still visit the borgata to tend to other animals that friends are minding for them. It’s all a bit delicate as you can imagine and we are getting used to the big changes in the borgata.

Health and Wellbeing

Apologies for not sharing sooner about all the news, I didn’t want to say anything until we were sure firstly we could get the money, and secondly it was all actually going ahead. I’ve also been going through early menopause and been up, down and all over the place…..mood swings, depression, low blood pressure, and thinking I was losing the plot. I’ve been to the doctor and looking online for help.

Thanks to everyone who gave me virtual hugs over at our Renovating Italy facebook page, without you all I know I’d be lost.

Things here are shifting to a whole new level, luckily I’m always up for an adventure.

So where would you start, do you have a dream Italian renovation…..?

Take a small step towards your dreams each day…..sending love

and the gang x