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house hunters international

House Hunters International – meets Renovating Italy

House Hunters International

Our episode of House Hunters International is set to air at last. It feels like we’re almost famous, no seriously, the blog is already expanding with new readers (ciao to you if you are new here). Friends that have been reading along from the very start are sharing all over the place and my Mum is trying to figure out how to view our House Hunters International episode in Australia.

Renovating Italy is about to go International……House Hunters International (click on this link for air times and date)

house hunters international

You might have read about our adventures with the crew from House Hunters International back in December. I think we are one of the few families to be featured at Christmas…and yep complete with snow. Well we have an air date for American viewers (July 27th) and once the episode has aired we will be sent a copy. Hopefully we wont be cringing, and will find a way to let you all see the episode asap.

I can’t wait to see the finished product, and find out which house we bought ……. I seriously fell in love with the wrong house.

We were asked to send in a 4 minute audition video (see below), did a skype call with the producer and had five days of filming in total.

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Luckily we’re not shy, I was doing wardrobe changes in the car and in the end just thought ‘Oh well this is us, no make up and totally exhausted towards the end’…..

I figure that if we tried to act in some way that wasn’t us then why bother, we want people to see that dreams are possible and changing country can be the best thing you ever do.

So much has happened in the nine months since our House Hunters International episode was filmed. We have purchased further property in the borgata to renovate. Buying the ‘White House’  right next to ours was a lucky break, and came with outbuildings and land. We aim to have it ready for friends and guests to visit come 2015.

In the meantime I hope you are able to enjoy our House Hunters International episode.

Thanks again to all involved you made the entire experience priceless.

Signatureand the gang x

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Italian Renovations – the windows arrive

 ‘All the windows of my Heart I open to the day’

John Whittier

Warmth and light…. these two simple elements now grace our home. The old discarded windows lean against the walls waiting for their fate. A reminder of the past and the many lives this house has seen come and go. My favorite place is always by the kitchen window looking out to the little road below and I wonder who else stood in just this spot, what dreams they had here. I walk through these rooms, along the narrow paths of the Borgata and I sense that they are aware and keeping watch over our shenanigans.

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house door 2 dblhouse door dblhouse door 3 dblIt has been chaotic here and the house is a jumble of tools, rocks, windows, wiring and daily life. Over the weekend we will be cleaning up and getting back to a sense of normality. It’s all systems go and we have a very special guest coming to visit late November, she is a friend I met on facebook and we can’t wait to meet her in person.

I have been a bit under the weather recently and so has Sam with his kidney stones but such is life hey especially when you have so much on your plate. I’m off to start tidying up the place so I can show you all some after photos, have a wonderful Halloween if you celebrate it and a great weekend.

Thinking of you all and sending love xxx

 

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Italian Renovations – the window guy

‘Who would have thought I’d be dreaming of windows…’

 

We found our ‘window guy’ (his name is Sergio) through our neighbor two doors down, a relative who with one quick phone call was out to measure up and give us a quote. A little Italian haggling and a price was agreed upon, in a community this small things like this are always done through word of mouth.

Yesterday we took a trip out to his workshop to choose the color of the stain and found a treasure trove. A true craftsman’s place filled with our windows which made my heart almost skip a beat! We already have snow on the mountains and the soft powder looks as if I could reach up and touch it. The nights are getting cold and the temperatures dropping.

I’ll be counting down the days till those windows are mine.

For many years I worked in a major decorating store in Australia. We sold paint, wallpaper and wood finishes, it was quite normal for customers to come in and agonize over the wall color or want us to put some stain onto a bit of wood only to end up with so many options they were never able to make a decision. Quarter strength off white, half strength off white…can we get an eighth strength…no you can’t!

So it was refreshing to be shown our color options for the windows via strips of off cuts stacked by the door. This one I say optimistically, close enough will do I guess, I’m hoping they will roughly match the few existing new doors and windows put in by the last owner. Things like this which I would have agonized over in Australia are just minute questions here, no color cards or paint swatches just a rough idea and go with that.

These things are really just not that important, just another Italian life lesson I’m learning.

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Our current windows are held together with ancient tiny tacks and no putty. They rattle and the chill night air seems to seep right through the thin panes of glass. One window is missing a pane and we have temporarily covered it over. I can’t wait to be rid of them. We will also have a new door both up and downstairs, the one leading from the kitchen out onto the upper terrace will be glass to let in the light. The old doors will be put to good use somewhere else in the house.

We are also looking at sealing up the cavity in the upper bedroom ceiling, at the moment it is open as the wardrobe we were given won’t fit any other way. It was nice in the summer to be able to see the starlight coming in through the roof but not now.

I wonder how old these windows would be?

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While waiting for Sergio to return his father suggested we take a walk around the borgata, the tiny road did a loop which took us about ten minutes. Chestnut and walnut trees with the ground covered in nuts had us wishing we’d bought some plastic bags. I usually carry one in my pocket now for just such a discovery. Two half breed Burmese cats followed us on our circuit weaving through my legs and purring loudly when I stopped to stroke them.

One doorway caught my eye  with the brightly colored layers of paint peeling over time….

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The seasons are changing right before our eyes…

 

Thinking outside the Box – sharing the dream

‘Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back,

everything is different…’

C.S. Lewis

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A new friend Sarah from Birdie Hill recently  called me  ‘Superwoman’ over at the Renovating Italy facebook page. Yet I don’t feel like this cartoon super-heroine, I feel tired, cranky and ready to burst into tears at the slightest thing. Emotional overload, hormones…who knows, lets just say I’ve been a ‘biatch’ to live with.  Renovating a house in the mountains of Italy is incredible and I totally love this life and my family but sometimes I just want to scream! This last week has been one of those times and when I am like this I stop writing, I start blaming, and wonder how on earth we are going to make this work.

It’s moments like these that my husbands sense of humor and persistence keeps us together. We love it here, I can’t imagine living anywhere else and have shaken off the doldrums and seen the rainbow. Although at the moment we have no income (Sam is waiting for me to be a best seller) I’m sure we will work something out. So many ideas and it just takes thinking outside of that box, we’d love to start a project here in the Valley to share what we are learning. A way to give a taste of this dream we are living, to share our dream and create something for others.

Our house will be finished before the end of Winter, and we’d love to be able to buy another here in the borgata to create a place for friends, family and those interested in this lifestyle to stay and experience it first hand. Another big dream but one I know we could achieve, my husband looks ten years younger, the kids are about to start school and learn a new language, they now have rabbits, chickens and a totally new outlook on life, and I am lit up by this valley every time I open the shutters in the morning to gaze over the mountains.

Anything is possible…

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 lounge before after

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Our lounge room floor is completed, the heater made it’s way into the house suspended on a huge tree trunk over the shoulders of Sam and Claudio….it weighs a tonne. The kitchen and lounge walls have been re coated and we now have hand made shelves and a kitchen bench. Things are starting to take shape, the house is becoming a home and it looks great.

Next week we have old friends from Australia coming to visit, and more this Saturday….I just can’t wait to see them all and share the dream. Tomorrow we are off to pick up some matresses so that we will all have somewhere to sleep. The bedroom upstairs now has a wall for privacy with the plaster going up today (pics to follow) now I have a wall to put the antique wardrobe against freeing up some space in the room for bedside tables. We have plenty of things to keep us busy through Winter.

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 corridor dblThe valley is full of sunflowers, berries and people making hay while the sun shines….I now see where this saying comes from. Our chickens are laying eggs, the rabbits are soon to be making more rabbits and our tiny chicks are now running about in the stable. In such a short time we have achieved so much, discovered ourselves and created even bigger dreams….hmmm maybe I am ‘Superwoman’ after all.

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Italian Men – life in the valley

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A life time of Memories – introducing the locals at Malpertus

‘I have more memories than if I were a thousand years old’

Charles Baudelaire

 

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 Kindness comes in many forms, often unexpected. Anita was born here at Malpertus, she knows it’s many secrets, heartbreaks and joys. A sparkling eye and an easy laugh, thick brown stockings under worn out shoes she wanders the borgata. Always busy and most often with a machete hanging from her apron, she is in her mid eighties.

She tells us stories of the partisans during the war killing a German soldier and the resulting hardships for Borgata Malpertus. The Germans returned burning the stores gathered for winter as retribution. The furthest she has been is the local town of Bobbio Pellice two kilometers away, oh and once to Pinerolo her son tells us so that takes the total to thirty kilometers.

She has offered to show me her collection of photographs and mementos, treasures she has kept for a lifetime .

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From day one we have been adopted by our neighbors here at Malpertus big hearts and weathered hands they have taken us under their wing. Earthy, practical, and generous they work the borgata keeping goats, sheep, chickens, and rabbits. One is a bit of a joker and told Sam he walks the sheep to pasture down near the town and it takes him three hours. His wife let us in on the fact that he puts them in the car a few at a time and drives them down.

With five families here in Malpertus including ours I am often overwhelmed by the sense of living history. The goats are taken out to pasture and back in at lunch time. I know where they are by the tinkling of the heavy bells worn by the goats. Carina and Luca are not to be seen until lunch time when all the children automatically return for lunch. It’s like time stood still here, we are often to be found out chatting as a group soon forms and stories are shared.

Our children have transformed and run back and forth to tell me of the baby rabbits, the two goats just born, the kitten just spotted, a new puppy being trained to watch the goats, our house rings with the sound of laughter, the boys tell Sam all about the stables on the ground floor and how best to use them. Our house is the biggest in the borgata, originally owned by the ‘Bonjour’ family with multiple levels and huge areas for animals, wine and provisions.

Our gates open directly onto the old main road of the borgata which is busy with tractors, the local postman in a tiny car, goats going to pasture and soon we are told the cows will be bought out…from where I am yet to discover but I know at least five are in here somewhere. It’s all mind boggling, I spend every day amazed and more and more in love with this wild part of Italy. Malpertus is now our home.

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It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that Anita passed away here at home in the Borgata on Tuesday 15th March 2016. We are just now heading out to attend her funeral.

I will miss her so much, she was my favorite here in the Borgata, such a sense of humor and towards the end she would stand waiting for her long lost husband to come home, I hope she gets to see him wherever she may be. Her spirit will always live on here in the Borgata.

Lisa signature 2and the gang x

 

Bobbio Pellice ~ hidden treasures

“A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid”

J.R.R Tolkien

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Our home in Bobbio Pellice has a tiny circular window high up on the crest of the roof line. Although I searched I couldn’t find it inside. My husband being a little more inventive worked out that it must be over the second bedroom. Pushing the ceiling panels he soon found the hidden opening and a whole treasure trove of history. Using on old handmade wooden ladder Sam and Carina braved the loft and were soon passing down ancient baskets, round green bottles, an old stirrup, a partially made boot, a leather suitcase, old magazines from the 50’s, a hand drawn map with a child’s writing…..each one a window into the lives led here.

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Running water inside the house straight from the sorgente is priceless we are told. Freezing cold and crystal clear it runs throughout the house and means we won’t need town water. The trough is deep and worn in places, a new generation to splash with icy delight.

Bobbio Pellice water

Bobbio Pellice water trough

We continue to discover glimpses of past lives, the house holds many secrets yet to unfold. x

Journey to the Italian Dream – At last we’re on our way

Since starting this blog it has been you my friends who have kept our spirits up, encouraged, shared and given our family a gift I never imagined that day I wrote my very first post.

This has been a long time coming yet now the time is here to finally share with you our great news I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. I’d love you’d like to know how I feel right now so please take a moment to listen to this track and know that I am sending these words to you.

A movie that has long been a huge favorite of mine, and although the context is out I hope you’ll get the sentiment. This song still has the power to move me to tears and is one of my special ways to say thank you.

On Monday our house sale went unconditional, it was also a day fraught with emotional overload around a family issue we’ve been working through. I found it almost impossible to share our great news with you all then, so now is our chance to sit back and take it all in.

This dream we dreamed is underway, we move from our home next week and head to Scarborough to finish off the units.

Then yes at last board that plane and head off into the unknown adventure that we have so longed for.

Our plans are to leave from Melbourne (where the tough part awaits…saying goodbye to my Mum, family and friends) late February. Which means our children will get to see out the school year with friends and we will miss an Italian Winter and go straight into Spring.

So I’d like to dedicate this post to all the dreamers out there who dream big dreams….without you all the world would be a dull place indeed.

with love Lisa x

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