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our favorite italian villages

Favorite Italian Villages – selling the house

Selling our house in Liguria seems like selling part of a beautiful dream, another renovation of course but in a glorious spot. For favorite Italian villages,  Veravo has a hold on my heart. This house is one I don’t want to give up but know is totally impractical for us now.The kids are settled in school and we love our community here in Malpertus. We are settled here now so the Liguria dream house is hopefully passing into other loving hands.

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Last week we drove  to Liguria in the campervan with the kids and Laura to meet with a lady interested in buying the house. Our architect met us and answered the many questions she had. We also met an Italian lady in Colletta who was interested and she and her husband came to view the house as well. Many house sales in Italy are through word of mouth with Vendesi signs on doors, and not the huge billboards we know in Australia.

Each time I am in Liguria I fall in love all over again, the dream of a beach lifestyle, zipping along the coast on my vespa, meeting girlfriends for a coffee, and having an even suntan. It’s amazing the difference a bit of sunshine made to my well being, coastal cafe’s and sitting back people watching was lovely. Taking Laura to favorite Italian villages was great, being able to see them anew through her eyes.

The lifestyle in Liguria is such a contrast to our lifestyle here in the mountains of Piedmont. I am no longer in shorts and t shirt, rubbing lotion into softly tanned legs, feeling the warmth of the sun on skin that has been covered up for some time now, swimming in the warm waters of the Italian riviera. Now I am in winter clothes, it’s been raining all day and who knows what happened to Summer even the locals are puzzled.

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It seems like a dream life, and one I know I am idealizing, we lived a street from the beach in Australia yet I hardly ever went swimming. It must be the relaxation of being on holiday that I am in love with, and with our friend Laura along we had more alone time to relax. She and Carina bonded like long lost sisters, doing nails and braiding hair, talking music and boys, I hardly saw my girl the whole trip. It’s crazy but I started to feel a little jealous of the easy friendship and laughter they shared. She now has an adopted big sister…..beautiful.carina laura dbl rszbatch

We were able to take Laura to some  favorite Italian villages, visiting Balma Boves, Breil sur Roya,  Ventimiglia, Colletta, Veravo, and Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, each one a beautiful jewel which inspired me to take hundreds of photos. My favorite was Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, it just sang to me and I could imagine a little artists apartment here one day.

Carina made friends with all the local cats and we got chatting to Mario the man in the image above and heard all about the Castle and how it was sold to a private family. Even so the village called me to wander and with the kids following Laura and Sam I was able to have a rare solo walk imagining a different life here.

 

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I feel rejuvenated, ready to take my health in hand, ready to embrace a slower life, start writing again, create a home, welcome visitors, and spend more time with the kids, learn Italian finally, time to live the dream life and just relax. Life is good, and life in Italy almost perfect. I’ll continue to add to our favorite Italian Villages as we discover them, would you like to see more images?

I can’t imagine living anywhere else now. I’m happy to always take you along or one day welcome you to our house for a vino, cup of tea, or coffee which ever takes your fancy. Here’s to friendships both new and old. xxx

Signatureand the gang x

 

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Renovating Italy hits the road – Liguria

We set off for Liguria with high hopes, expecting beautiful weather, gelato, family time, some much needed rest and relaxation. Each of these arrived in different ways, at unexpected moments, our maiden voyage in the camper van was an education for all of us.

We managed to survive without computers, no internet, no online games or movies to watch, I was surprised how quickly the addiction was broken.

We played Mastermind, Hangman, Join the Squares, drew, read, walked, made new friends along the way, and actually spent time with each other. In this stress filled world we live in, just bowing out for a week was a real treat.

Since returning we’ve fallen back into old habits, our comfortable routines, and our family love affair with the computer. Creating this simple life is a work in progress, one we are yet to completely embrace. I know and believe with all my heart that it will be the making of our little family.

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exploring Albenga, Liguria

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exploring Portofino

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finding a friend in Veravo

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looking for an agent in Albenga

Finding an agent for our house in Veravo was a little more challenging, a total change from the buying / selling process we are so familiar with in Australia. A number of agents wouldn’t take on a ‘Rustico’ and were luckily happy to put us onto an agent that would. So our house in Liguria is now on the market, yet I secretly hope we’ll find a way to keep it. The entire valley is gorgeous and so close to the beach and towns on the Italian riviera. Albenga is the closest town and she totally captured my heart with her Medieval walled center. So now we wait and see what happens.

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 taking a dip at Monterosso al Mare

Luca celebrated his tenth birthday on the road, was happy with the perfect gift found in a tiny souvenir shop in Monterosso al Mare ( a bag of prehistoric creatures which just happened to include a Gastornis!) we had a simple cake the next day with friends on the way home, a family we met on the road gave him a gift of a helium balloon and a golden Lindt chocolate rabbit complete with ribbon and bell. Just tiny gifts and special moments, he had a wonderful birthday.

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heading home to Malpertus

With hundreds of images to sort through and share I’ll be creating resources on all the places we visited. Right now I’m off to bed, after a day at home I have managed to come down with the flu and am feeling rotten.  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Break, I have lots of stories, adventures and ideas to share with you and I’ll be posting here with all the details.

If you have any thoughts or questions on anything I’m sharing I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

with much love as always

and the gang x

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Veravo – village of dreams

‘I roamed the countryside searching for answers
to things I did not understand’ 

~Leonardo da Vinci

 

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Veravo is everything I dreamed it would be, wandering into the village I recognized the landmarks from Sams brief video made the day he bought the house. Curved staircases seemingly held up by air and luck, an large well tended orto in the centre, tiny doors, intricate alleyways, and finally the path up to our house.

After years of waiting finally we arrived in Veravo, the house is still standing but needs a bit of work. I imagine the terraced gardens and lunches on the terrace….a long way to go yet. The first stage of our dream has been realised now we need to work out how to keep it alive and fund a renovation. We are looking at a community project, one in which visitors can experience the joys we are living daily. We’d love any thoughts on the idea.

We meet the locals, an old lady peered out at us from the window overhead. She turned out to be a real gem and had lived in the village her entire life. Another man told us most of the empty houses are selling, gas pipes are coming in and the area is just perfect for those looking for a house close to the Ligurian coast. I now look forward to exploring Liguria and falling in love with her as we have with Piedmont.

Next stop Colletta….

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The secret way to buy a house in Italy – Vendesi

When buying a house in Italy keep a look out for the Vendesi sign

Something that I loved about our house in Liguria is that it was never for sale.

As with many properties in Italy my husband found it totally through word of mouth. On the very last day of his trip to purchase a renovation project and future home he happened by chance to meet with someone who knew someone who was interested in selling.

Having just gone through the process of selling the house in Australia ourselves, it is still a jolt to see only these often faded tiny Vendesi signs  on houses for sale. Unlike Australia there are no massive signs with glossy images, just the word Vendesi and a phone number. With our house there wasn’t even a sign, we would never have found it without help from someone in the village.

We have sold our own home a number of times now, this seems such a great way to sell, although not so wonderful for those looking to buy. It’s been a long time since we have used an agent to sell a house, but we have never sold on word of mouth alone. I wonder how those who don’t speak the language or have an Italian heritage fare using this system. Sam came back with so many images of rustic places just begging to be bought and transformed.

Of course we are most interested in those that never get that little Vendesi sign on the front door.

 

Have you bought or sold property in Italy? Did you use an agent, word of mouth or the Vendesi signs? 

Signatureand the gang x

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Living the Italian dream – Your new home is waiting

‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined’

Henry David Thoreau

Yes, we are moving to Italy! No we haven’t sold our house yet… everyone seems to be asking us when we are leaving and I have to say I don’t know! We have been planning and working towards this now for some time, we own a property in Liguria that we can’t get to just yet… incredibly frustrating? Yes you could say that!

But still my heart beats in time to the words Italia Italia Italia, I can think of nothing else.
The Italian Dream

So I admit to being in the doldrums briefly, but here I am bouncing back. Yesterday we took our house off the market, time to come up with a new strategy. We will give it a few weeks and then remarket the property, if it doesn’t sell we’ll put it up again early in the New Year and go from there. Unless of course we can come up with something funky (don’t put it past us we’ve done it before).

I am longing to climb those tiny pathways to our house in Veravo, to stand on that terrace and breathe in the entire valley. To hear the sound of our childrens laughter as they race around from room to room and climb the terraced gardens. My daughter already has plans for a goat, chickens, and a big veggie garden so she can help Daddy with the cooking. Our Italian dream about to come true.

This heavy stone building that is centuries old already holds me tight. It’s arched stairways, vaulted ceilings, thick walls and solid doors are in my dreams each night. I imagine the families that have lived here before us and smile. The beach is only a few kilometres away, yet we are surrounded by green valleys and towering mountains.

Our new neighbors in this little group of  villages are Colletta, Oresine,  Vesallo, Teccio, and Cianea each one unique, with Colletta having been totally restored. The entire village was in a state of abandon when an Italian developer saw the potential and restored it fully. I love hearing about those who have turned the Italian dream into reality.

There are around seventy apartments, some available for rent or to buy, all stunning. The medieval village of Colletta is home to a thriving community with an Art Gallery, Restaurant, Concerts, and Festivals. My husband has already been over to introduce himself, he makes friends easily.

images of Colletta  One off Places

As for Veravo we are yet to become part of the local scene, I hear dogs barking and some children playing in the footage Salvatore bought back to Australia but the streets are abandoned.

Luckily we seem to thrive on uncertainty… oh and dreams!

Yes ours are alive and kicking furiously.

ciao Lisa

Life’s Postcards

Related Links:

  • Colletta, Castelbianco Liguria
  • Our friend Anna who is an expert on all things Liguria at Beautiful Liguria

Journey by Train – Australia to Italy

So the plan thus far:

We (Sam Carina Luca and I) are going to return to Italy to start renovations on the house in Veravo, Liguria in June August 2011 (or earlier if we sell the property in Australia before then).

My dear husband has decided it would be a great idea to go by train oops now looks like we will be flying as time has just run out for us. The renovation is taking longer than expected to sell … so we will be updating along the way: I now have no idea where from…. life just changes moment to moment around here. So we are already talking about doing this journey on our first visit back to Australia whenever that may be… just imagine this in reverse. Confused… stay with me for further adventures.

  • fly to Saigon from Brisbane, Australia
  • and train to Hanoi
  • then to Bejiing
  • through Mongolia
  • then to Moscow
  • then fly to Italia
  • and drive to our house.

Hope you will be following our adventures along the way here at Renovating Italy

and for extra bits and pieces over at our Facebook Page

ciao

-Lisa

Italian Rustic – Did you see the new place?

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Italian Rustic Home

No these are not our balcony, these are my inspiration photos for our Italian Rustic home. This is the image that will keep us slogging through the renovation. I can imagine our terrace looking just like this, sitting here reading a book and sipping a vino. Dining with friends and taking in the evening stars, it’s going to be gorgeous!

So this is the reality of our “new’ Italian Rustic house in Veravo, Liguria. Our next renovation and future home for a bit… just in case you haven’t seen the video at the start of our blog. Can you believe that these are the best of about a dozen photos my dear Amore took on his recent visit? There are also two from the agent.

So what do you think? Can you imagine yourself  living here?

future orto… and guest bedroom

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Of boobs and bears… memories of Cinque Terre

Once when visiting the Cinque Terre with a fairly “busty” friend of ours an old lady wandered over to us and said “si dovrebbe dare un pò del tuo per lei” (forgive me if the translation is a little out), which roughly translates to “You should give some of yours to her”.

The her in question being myself who is not blessed in the bosom department. What made us laugh, and still makes me smile today is the way she walked straight over to us, said this pointing from my friends ample chest to my pitiful one and then wandered away laughing.

I of course had no clue what she had said just got a good idea from the look of delighted outrage on my friends face.

You just have to love the Italians…


The other Cinque Terre moment that stuck in my mind is the tiny balcony filled to the brim with freshly washed soft toys, our daughter spotted Po (the red telly tubby) and Luca saw Pooh Bear and that was the end of our tranquil walk down to the ocean. We had to stop and wave to Pooh and Po and take some photos. Passersby stopped to smile and look up with us, and perhaps remember their own favorite childhood toy.

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