Calabria Joins The Ranks Of The 1 Euro Italian House Program

1 Euro Italian House
Italian Balcony

Ciao Amici (Friends!)

Chris here from Super Savvy Travelers!” And in the last few weeks over 200,000 of you have heard that phrase on our Super Savvy Youtube channel. 
Thank you! It has been a pleasure being in communication with you all!

Honestly the 1 Euro Italian House trend has just gotten bigger and bigger. A couple of weeks ago, I swore to you that there were none in Calabria that I could find.

Well, it appears that Mayor Michele Conia has risen to the challenge and made 1 Euro Italian houses available in his community of Cinquefrondi.

Cinquefondi literally translates to “Five Fronds” and the village is named for the fact that there were five separate communities of Greek and Byzantine origin that all came together and formed one community during the Middle Ages.

1 Eur italianhouse
Ancient Italian House

Cinque Frondi is located on the bunion of the boot that is the Italian Peninsula. It rides along the crest of the Aspromonte Mountains and affords access  to the sea on both sides.

1 Euro House Cinquefrondi
Cinquefrondi

Mayor Michele, along with many other mayors in the region have been attempting to reverse the depopulation of their towns and villages due to the exodus of young people who have had to leave and look for work in the more populated areas.

He has christened his repatriation project, “Operation Beauty”  and we whole heartedly support him in his efforts.

Cinquefrondi has also advertised the fact that it is a “Covid Free” community in that they were able to side step the COVID virus completely.

In fact, much of Calabria was able to escape the ravages of this virus by shutting down quickly and keeping a close eye on it. I have heard that there was not a single case of COVID in our village of Santa Domenica Talao either so well done to all of our mayors and city leaders in Calabria! You guys did great!

Here is a map of where we are n Santa Domenica Talao for comparison.

Santa Domenica Talao map
Santa Domenica Talao; Riviera Dei Cedri

Now let’s go over some facts about the 1 euro Italian house programs.

Normally if you elect to purchase a 1 Euro Italian house, you have to have a 5,000 Euro deposit. In addition if you do not complete the renovations within 3 years, you will be facing a fee of 20,000 Euros.

In Cinquefrondi, the 5,000 Euro deposit is waived but they ask you to purchase an insurance policy in the amount of 250 Euros per year until the works are complete.

The 20,000 Euro fee is in also effect in Cinquefrondi if the works are not completed in three years.

So it appears that the community has tried to sweeten the pot dramatically in order to bring people in.

Maratea
Ancient house in Maratea Centro Storico

That said, is a 1 Euro Italian house for you?

In addition to the factors listed above, there are other factors you need to consider.

  1. The houses available for 1 Euro in Cinquefrondi are very old and are located in the ancient part of the city.  These ancient houses lean on each other. What happens to the structural integrity of the building as a whole? Can you fortify your house so that it doesn’t fall if the others never get renovated?
  2. Does the housing market in Cinquefrondi support a renovation cost of 10-20K Euros that it will cost to renovate one of these places.
  3. How can you protect yourself if the builders get backlogged and it takes longer than there years to renovate?

None of these questions are designed to put you off the 1 Euro houses but merely to have you take a look and see if this will work for you.

In any case I would definitely run everything by an attorney because he will know what questions to ask and what points to clarify in a contract.  We highly recommend Nic Metta at Studio Legale Metta for this purpose.

This may be the deal of the century for you so check it out thoroughly!

Now I want to give a shout out to Dave and his Youtube channel Dauv0. Dave is in Mussomelli (Messina) Sicily and has his finger on the pulse of everything about 1 Euro houses all over Italy. We will be teaming up with Dave for some really fun and exciting projects so stay tuned to both of our channels. You are going to love it!

If you are looking for a 1 Euro Italian property. You need to watch our video on the subject. This will give you the truth abut 1 Euro Italian houses.

AND if you are looking at purchasing a property in Italy and/or moving there you MUST study our online video course and Ebook. It gives you EVERYTHING you need to know about purchasing a home and/or moving to Italy.

You can also get your personal Move to Italy Action Plan/Checklist here.

Free Action Plan/Checklist
Free Action Plan/Checklist

Caio!

Chris

Everything You Need To Know About Purchasing Your Italian House

Everything You Need To Know About Purchasing Your Italian House
Purchase property in Italy

Everything, EVERYTHING You Need To Know About Buying Property (For As Little As 1 Euro) And Moving To Italy; Avoid The Pitfalls That Could Cost You Your Dream!

Ciao Friends!

Congratulations on your plan to purchase property in Italy. The rise in popularity of the 1 Euro Italian houses has enticed many people to start looking at making the dream of owning property and possibly living in Italy a reality.

BUT There are so  many possible pitfalls!

You are dealing with a completely different property purchase process, a completely different building and renovation model, you don’t know the language and worse yet, you don’t know what questions to ask your attorney and tax specialist. And having them educate you can be hugely expensive.

As you may know, I have literally done YEARS worth of research on purchasing properties not only in Italy, but also in Spain, Greece and other European countries. With my husband, I have successfully bought and renovated several properties in Southern Italy.

In my experience as a real estate expert, here are just a few mistakes I have heard, read about or experienced myself in various different countries:

*When we were first looking at properties, we were approached with an offer to purchase a property for 120,000 Euros. 10 years later that property NEVER got built. Had we paid, we would be out 120,000 Euros.
(POSSIBLE LOSS 120,000 Euros)

*A person recently came to me with an offer to purchase an apartment for 10,000 Euros. The contract turned out to be a rental contract that guaranteed the BUYER ongoing fees! She would not have owned the property at all!
(POSSIBLE LOSS 10,000 + 1400 Euros per year + other possible fees as yet undetermined!)

*A property “renovated” by a friend of the agent that was completely messed up. That property is STILL on the market 10 years later for almost half of what the buyer paid to renovate it.
(POSSIBLE LOSS 100,000 Euros)

*A property in Spain where the buyer purchased and moved in, only to find that the builder had not gotten the required permits and the place was torn down. Of course, the builder was long gone.
(ACTUAL LOSS  325,000 Euros)

Obviously this is only a partial list of the pitfalls I have seen.
And without someone who knows and has been through the process to guide you through it, you could make some very expensive and heartbreaking mistakes.

Since purchasing our house in Italy has been such a life changing event, we want to be able to share our knowledge so that you can avoid the pitfalls and obtain your dream.

For that reason Pete and I have gotten down to some intense research and answered every question we could possibly think of. Then when we were almost done we asked for YOUR questions so we could be sure we addressed EVERYTHING you needed to know.

We also had to pull in all of our experts from the legal, real estate, and economic fields so that we could be sure of giving you the correct data.

And we did it!

Welcome to “Everything, EVERYTHING You Need To Know About Buying A Property And Moving To Italy; Avoid The Pitfalls That Could Cost You Your Dream” online course and Ebook!

This online course is designed to be light but also packed with vital information. The Ebook can be printed out and tabbed, highlighted and notated so that you know EXACTLY what to ask you legal and tax specialist so you save time and money getting EXACTLY the advice you need from them.

And since our passion is to help others find their dreams, we purposely priced this offer at LESS THAN YOU WOULD PAY FOR HALF AN HOUR WITH YOUR ATTORNEY.

Attorneys and tax professionals are vitally important but they can be expensive if you don’t know what questions to ask them.

We knew you would love this course but that you also would want to know how to book your perfect BNB for your property viewing trips.

Staying in a hotel is not an option because you won’t get a feel for what it is like to live in a town or village unless you LIVE there even for a short time. So we created “Your Guide To Finding The Perfect BNB For Your Property Viewing Trips” Ebook. This little gem helps you create your viewing trip experience so that it matches as closely as possibly your actual living experience so you can make the best choices possible.

This Ebook is a FREE GIVEAWAY that comes with your course.

AND since we know that finding your perfect property takes time and that you may spend way too much time filtering through properties that will not work for you on real estate websites, we created your “Find My Property Dream Checklist” Which ALSO COMES FREE with your course!

With all this area information we feel that we will send you out into the world of Italian real estate armed and ready for anything!

And all for less than half an hour with your attorney!

Click here for details on how to get this vital package of information!

And write us with any questions you might have! And subscribe to our Super Savvy Travelers Youtube channel because we will be continuing to post super valuable content for those looking for properties or who just love Italy!

Happy House Hunting! We will see you in Italy!

XO Chris and Pete; Super Savvy Travelers, LLC

What is the Deep, Dark Secret To Great Italian Cooking?

What is the Deep, Dark Secret To Great Italian Cooking?
Olive oil

Lunch!

Ciao friends!

If you have followed me even a little bit you know that Pete and I are HUGE foodies! We honestly would go to the ends of the earth for a great meal.

That was one of the reasons we purchased our home in Calabria, Italy ten years ago. Obviously there are a million reasons, but the food in Calabria is the very best in the world (in my humble opinion).

And in Calabria, I am a great cook. I wow myself with almost every meal I make and I get wowed by every meal I eat there no matter who makes it.

So I knew that there had to be a SECRET to great Italian cooking.  And there is!

I looked long and hard and finally found it! And it was so simple!

Calabrian Cuisine
Calabrian Cuisine

Even the best and freshest ingredients will fall flat in your dish if you don’t start with a really good basic ingredient and in Italian cooking the most basic ingredient is the super high quality, Italian olive oil.

Once I stumbled on that bit of brilliance, I started looking in my kitchen in California at the olive oil I had been cooking with. I thought to myself, Hmmmmmm, I bet that is not the best I can find.

And that, my friends, started me on a quest to research and find the BEST olive oils in the world and learn everything I could about them.

As I researched, I ran into so much false data and contrary facts. Everyone it seems has an opinion that they defend to the death even when it conflicts with everyone else’s opinions.

Chris Olives
Olive Market

I had to go back really far into the past before all this weirdness began to find the correct data. And again I found it, this time in an obscure little book written by a Spanish olive nerd living and working in Italy in 1900 by the name of Dr. Alejandro Bizzarri.

Dr. Bizzarri wrote down in almost excruciating detail EVERYTHING that had to do with the cultivation, the harvesting, the pressing, the storing, and the transporting and selling of olives.

His book is part chemistry, part physics and part agriculture. I got it and translated it, pulling out the parts that I knew we all needed to know here in 2020 to understand, use and cook well with any olive oil.

And I took these golden nuggets of information and compiled them all in an easy to read and entertaining FREE Ebook so that you can have fun and learn about EVERYTHING OLIVE at the same time.

Foodie’s Guide to Decoding Italian Olive Oil Ebook

Since we understand that many people learn more visually, we created an online course of seven high quality videos, each one packed with vital information from Dr.  Bizzarri’s book. Here is where we debunked the myths and dispelled the mysteries of everything olive.  We also picked out a bunch of frequently asked questions to answer that I know you want to know because so many people have been asking them.

slowfoodrenaissance.com
Foodies Guide to Decoding Italian Olive Oil Video

By then I had REALLY been bitten by the olive bug and I had to learn more!

So Pete and I ordered five of the top ranking Italian olive oils on Amazon.com. It was like Christmas when they arrived! We then researched the best way to taste them and compare them.

Video Comparison 5 High Quality Italian Olive Oils

Then we created a video, side by side comparison of these five top ranking Italian olive oils and we were blown away by what we found! Each one was so different but so delicious! We loved the unfiltered ones for salads and pestos. Learning this was like opening a huge door to a completely different world of food and cooking. Who knew that one of the the oldest and most basic ingredients on the planet could create such a change in our every day lives?

So having tasted all of these magnificent olive oils, we decided to create a new and original recipe for each one of them.

5 Best Mediterranean Recipes Video Series

We created a video series of cooking classes, one for each recipe featuring one of our Italian olive oils. These recipes were amazing as they each were created with a high quality Italian olive oil in mind.

Italian olive oils
5 Best Mediterranean Recipes Ebook

In order to make it easier to purchase the other ingredients and follow the recipes, we then created an Ebook containing these recipes.

And, since we know that once you start in on this path, like us, you will be transported to true olive nerddom, I added Dr Bizzarri’s book from 1900, translated and annotated by me so that you can understand everything he was saying.

Dr. B's book
The Oil Of The Olive

Pete and I had so much fun creating this package of Olive Mastery for you and we are so excited to make it available.

To start on your journey go get your FREE EBOOK right now. And welcome to a new life of great cooking and eating!

XO Chris

 

The Truth About 1 Euro Italian Houses

The Truth About 1 Euro Italian Houses
Photo credit Pixabay

 

Italian house
Photo credit Pixabay

Ciao!

I hope you all are following us on Youtube! We have gotten some really great traction over there and some of the videos are really taking off!

We are trying to put up informative and fun content that we know you want to see and it looks like we are succeeding so thank you if you have gone over and watched any of them.

By far the most popular video on YouTube is the one where I talk about the 1 euro Italian houses that are so popular nowadays and whether or not these are a wise purchase.

This video is up to 7,400 views and just keeps climbing. The other popular videos are the ones featuring our house renovations and several other renovation projects in our village of Santa Domenica Talao.

Every week I get several letters from people asking about purchasing a property in Italy and wondering if they can make their Italian dream come true.

Italy street
Italy street, Alexander Nagelstad

Now, these 1 euro Italian houses have gotten everyone’s attention. It is a BRILLIANT marketing campaign.

But is it a good deal?

Well, it might be but here are a few things that you need to keep in mind.

The homes that are selling now for 1 Euro are abandoned and have been for a long time.

First of all, let’s go back several generations and find out why these towns and villages are abandoned in the first place.

Seaside town
Seaside town

Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s many Italians, especially from the South. left their homes in Italy for the dream of a better life in America.

Life in the rural districts was difficult back then. The weather was capricious and one never knew whether the next year they would still be able to eke out a meagre living. Many left with the idea that they would be back after seeking their fortunes but they never returned.

Over time the properties that would have been inherited by the sons and grandsons fell into disrepair and ruin.

This was a long time ago and many of these properties are in pretty rough shape. Generally these are the 1 Euro Italian houses.

Most of them are found in the historic centers of so many hill towns and seaside villages. Some are wedged in between other houses that have been cared for and perhaps renovated and most are in a pretty severe state of disrepair.

Italian house
Guillaume Meurice

So that said, are they a good deal?

Well, it depends on so many different factors.

One of them is the state of disrepair. If the walls are intact and not crumbling due to a roof failure, it will be less expensive to fix up than one that has had the roof fail completely letting water leak into the walls and destroy their integrity.

Once that occurs, there is substantial repair needed and sometimes you may have to take the walls down to the foundation and rebuild them from the bottom up.

In the case of a house that is seriously damaged, make sure you get a good inspection and estimate on the repairs in writing before you purchase it.

A better purchase would be a house that is still pretty much intact, only needing cosmetic repairs like new floors, windows, kitchens and bathrooms. These are not generally for sale for one Euro but many times they are really inexpensive because there are so many of them.

ARCHITECTURE ITALIAN
Architecture Italian

Also kitchens and bathrooms are very inexpensive tp purchase in Italy, especially in the South. Ikea does have branches in Italy where you can purchase DIY kitchens for not very much money.

Another factor that you want to pay attention to in shopping for your Italian house is that in many villages, there may be one architect and one builder, You have to make sure that you can work with them and that they are honest and reliable.

Talk to others who have gotten renovations done in your village and ask them about their experiences.

Bear in mind that the houses for sale for one Euro are not anything like any houses we have here in America. Many of these houses were built centuries ago with whatever building materials they had to hand.

Centuries old walls may be made up of old roof tiles, bits of rock, mortar and sometimes even wood canes like the ones we found holding up our ancient roof. Miraculously we have not had leaks under that part of the roof as the wood canes are black with age and somehow still standing.

Honestly there is so much to finding and purchasing your house in Italy. It is very difficult to put it all into one blog post.

Do go watch our Youtube video and stay tuned as Pete and I are putting together a consultant package for those who are interested in having experienced help in this area.

Once you have your dream firmly in place, it is time to begin!

 

 

 

Foodie’s Guide to Decoding Italian Olive Oil

Foodie’s Guide to Decoding Italian Olive Oil
Olive Market
Chris Olives
Olive Market

Hi Everyone!

I am so excited!

But I have to divulge a BIG secret to you about myself.

I have spent a lot of time in Italy and done a lot of cooking and eating. In fact I am quite a foodie over there. I have a nose for the best restaurants and the amazing chefs that I seem to be able to find all over Calabria

And I love to cook. So I would spend mornings in the markets in Italy finding the best and freshest ingredients. I would have Nunzia save me fresh eggs just scooped from underneath an unsuspecting chicken. And I would find the sweetest fruits and tastiest vegetables all ready to be enjoyed.

Market day
Market day

I would gather all of my bootie and come home and cook.

And my dishes were fantastic! In Italy I am a great cook.

So it was a huge mystery to me as to why, when I came home I was a mediocre cook. I still looked for and purchased the best ingredients. I still took care to make things correctly. And don’t get me wrong, the dishes were good, they just weren’t Italian.

Now full disclosure here, I am not Italian by blood, I am in spirit and one thing I do know is great cooking.

So recently I started really looking into something that I knew was missing here and that I could somehow find and incorporate into my dishes to make them truly authentic. .

Beautiful olive tree
Beautiful olive tree

And then I figured it out!

It was the most basic and probably the oldest fresh ingredient in Italian cooking.  It is the one thing that no Italian table is ever without.

What was missing was a really good Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. That was it! I knew I was onto something!

But as soon as I started looking for true facts on the subject of olives and olive oil, I ran into so many contrary facts, ideas, and opinions that I could not figure any of it out!

Olive Oil Pouring
Olive oil

I knew I had to go to the source to get really good information and I found it in the most unlikely place!

In my travels I stumbled across a book written in 1900 in Spanish called “The Oil of the Olive” By Dr. Alejandro Bizzarri, probably the world’s first real OLIVE NERD.

And I knew I had found it.

So I translated Dr. Bizzarri’s book from start to finish, read it all and culled out the really useful information that would help us in this day and age. (I left out the bits about how many olives were exported from Argentina in 1899. We don’t need that particularly.)

And I was enchanted!

Dr. B's book
Dr. Bizzarri’s book

Dr. Bizzarri covered everything from the cultivation to the harvesting methods to the pressing including intimate details of how to clean the presses, and what to do if your olive oil comes out smelling like animals or tasting like worms. This man was a true nerd and I am quite proud that I found him.

In short, Dr. B gave me everything I needed to pen my olive video and ebook that I now proudly call “Foodie’s Guide to Decoding Italian Olive OiI”.

slowfoodrenaissance.com
Foodies Guide to Decoding Italian Olive Oil

After completing that I had to jump head first into great olive oils so I ordered five of the top ranking Italian olive oils on Amazon.com.

We created several other really fantastic products including a video side by side comparison of the five Italian olive oils we bought. We were amazed at how different each one was and in short, I will NEVER go back to mass produced olive oil again. I have been spoiled for good!

On top of that we created special recipes for each olive oil we tried which was so much fun and way beyond delicious. We also made these available on video and in ebook form.

And, if that were not enough olive fun, I translated and notated Dr. Bizzarri’s book for you as well. Let me tell you, that was time consuming but with the annotations, it is really fun to read and honestly there is nothing that I can think of olive related that is not in that book.

You are going to love it.

Olives through the window
Olives through the window

I also included a couple of surprise bonuses but I will wait until my project is ready to launch before I tell you what they are.

All in all, Pete and I have been in Olive Wonderland for the last several weeks! I can’t wait to release this so you can join us there! I see many olive related happy moments in our future!

Chin-chin and I will see you in the piazza!

 

Why is this Corona Virus Making us so Unhappy and What Can We Do?

View fro Santa Domenica Talao
View from Santa Domenica Talao

Ciao friends,

I have to say that I woke up sad today.  It is very unlike me to wake up sad so it took awhile for me to really analyze why I was feeling this way and once I identified it, I felt a lot better.

Here it is:

Easter has been cancelled this year for all intents and purpose. We are all on lock down and there are no big meals prepared with and for our loved ones.

There are no Easter egg hunts, no beautiful Easter dresses on the ladies at Easter mass.

There are no flowers and no music. There is no feeling of renewed life that we can share with each other.

There is no thanking God with all of our loved ones present that Winter is over and a new beginning has arrived in all its glory.

I know enforced isolation is necessary in these highly unusual circumstances but it can be very damaging to us spiritually if we do not know how to combat it.

People are all different but two of the most important things we have in common are communication with each other, with life, with the world around us, and aesthetics, a love of all things beautiful.

And everyone I know who travels does so for these two reasons.

Think about it. When we travel somewhere to see the brightly colored markets in Turkey or when we head to Italy to taste the amazing cuisine, we are looking forward to communication to this new (to us) world around us.

When we walk in the evening Passegiatta we look at each other and smile. We are communicating. When we order our dinner in faulty Italian and laugh at our pronunciation and grammar mistakes, we are communicating. When we study history, we are communicating with the past. It is all about communication.

We also look to the aesthetics, the stunning buildings, the amazing art work, and the cultural rituals and practices that we find beautiful. We pay more in hotels for a room with a beautiful view. Again, it is all about communication and aesthetics; communication and beauty.

So it is no surprise that we become edgy and upset when we are denied communication with each other and the world. We also get upset when we are denied the opportunity to see or even create beauty.

So cancelling a holiday such as Easter can give us this reaction of sadness and upset.

So what do we do about it?

Create something beautiful

One of my favorite ways of fighting the blues is to create something beautiful. In my case I have spent a lot of time creating our new Facebook group “All About Italy” which is a group of people who love Italy. It is a great group who freely share beautiful photos and videos, recipes, thoughts and ideas.

For this reason the page itself is very aesthetic and the group is in really nice communication with each other.

If you love Italy feel free to go and join.

Really work to stay in communication with your friends and family.

When  we start to feel down, we tend to with draw. This just makes the problem worse. Pick up the phone or better yet, schedule a FaceTime session with your kids. Write letters and emails just to stay in touch. Check on your relatives. You will feel better.

Plan something great for the future

Our village in Italy is in lock down right now but soon Summer will come and the sharp sunlight will creep through our windows in the morning, waking us up with the promise of so many fun and exciting things.

There will be coffees and cornetti  in the piazza with friends.

There will be parties on the roof terraces overlooking the sea where we laugh together and share stories while sipping perfect Prosecco and munching on Italian snacks.

There will be exciting days spent designing and starting on our new BNB in the piazza.

There will be endless opportunities to discover new treasures. I hear that there is a specialty farm that creates the most perfect ricotta near our village. We need to explore this!

I also found that there is an olive farm below us turning out highly crafted olive oil for us to explore and enjoy.

Pete and I have so many projects in the works and it does make us feel happy and excited to talk to each other about them and create them day after day.

If you need some ideas go check out the Super Savvy Youtube channel. We have some very cool content there and I am sure you will find some ideas to jump start your creative flows.

I know this is a tough time but I also hear great news for the coming weeks. This will not last forever and we will come out of it stronger with a renewed love of the things we might have taken for granted at some point.

Meanwhile Hang On! and work to create opportunities for beauty and more communication. This will make you feel better and it also helps those around you more than you can possibly imagine.

Sending all my best! See you in the piazza!

XO Chris

 

 

We Will Get Through This; Do These Things to Stay Happy and Healthy

We Will Get Through This; Do These Things to Stay Happy and Healthy
San Nicola Arcella

 

Ciao Friends,

Well, we can all agree that things have been nothing short of crazy.  There has been so much change every day that it can leave us with heads spinning. And sometimes things can look pretty bleak.

We will get through this but we do need some strategies to keep ourselves healthy and to keep our spirits up. And keeping our spirits up and stress levels  down are vital to remaining physically healthy.

I know a bit about overcoming difficult times. I have had three hip replacements. I had one in 2013 to reduce intense pain upon walking. Two years later the pain had increased rather than decreased and I found out that the hip implant was in wrong.

So I had a hip revision surgery to fix it. I had to confront the pain, the disability and the healing all over again.

Shortly thereafter, my other hip tore and it had to be replaced too.

Hip replacement surgery is intensely painful and each time I had to confront going through it, it was beyond stressful.

So I have developed some strategies for dealing with hard times and I know they will help you get through this rough time.

Photo credit Oleg Magni

1. Think beyond the hard times

As I was wheeled into each surgery, I was afraid. I knew I would wake up in intense pain and because I do not do well with pain killers, I had only Tylenol to see me through. In short I had to confront weeks of intense pain.

The one thing that got me through it was concentrating my attention on how I was going to feel the first day I noticed a decrease of pain. I thought about walking without pain again. I thought about my next Summer in Italy and who I would see and what I would do. I concentrated on the future happy times.

Sometimes I would just think about how I would feel as I left the hospital full of relief that it was all over.

Take some time and concentrate your attention on how happy we will feel when this is over. Think of how unified we will feel and how much smarter we will be.

Think of the plans you will make for the Summer, who you will see and what you will do.

This will keep you from feeling stuck an unable to move.

Photo credit Aleksandr Balandin

2. Turn off the news!

The news media makes its paycheck by holding your attention hostage. It does this by creating panic and chaos. They make you think that you NEED to watch to find out all threats to your survival and then they spin it to make it as scary as possible.

Turn it off! Get your news from a trusted source that has no agenda other than informing you.

Decumano Massimo, Ostia's Main Street
Decumano Massimo, Ostia Antica

3. Find and spread GOOD NEWS.

There is so much good news. The Italian singing in their balconies, communities coming together, babies being born and neighbors caring for neighbors.  Spread this far and wide and help others see beyond this situation.

Photo credit Andrea Piacquadio

4. Take this time to reconnect

I know we are not supposed to leave our houses but we have phones and Skype. Being home can make us feel isolated and alone. Connecting with people will bring your spirits up and help us all feel like we are in this together.

Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy

5. Join my new Facebook group.

I created a Facebook page called “All About Italy”. The purpose is to unite those of us who love all things Italian, and my Italian friends. If we are cooped up in our homes, we can connect with others with similar interests and stay connected through this time of isolation.

If you are not in love with Italy, find and join groups that are interesting to you.

View from the terrace
Sun

6. Go out in the sun

If you have a balcony or patio, go outside and get some sun. Vitamin D is important for health and getting a feeling of space is vital for mental health.

You can also look around and get out of your head where your worries reside. It is a welcome relief to escape for a time.

Sandals Royal Bahamian
Sandals Royal Bahamian

7. Make art!

It doesn’t matter one jot if you are a terrible artist. Make something! You may be surprised at how fast you become proficient! In any case, it will give you something creative to focus on and creative focus is the best remedy for boredom and upset.

If you are not into art, reorganize something, rearrange your furniture, make some great food.

cruisers
Cruising sights

For entertaining videos, go to the Super Savvy Travelers Youtube channel.

8. Help someone else

Of all the points listed above this is by far the most powerful to make you feel in control. Elderly neighbors need groceries or other things and leaving their houses can be more dangerous for them. See what you can do to help them.

We are a strong and powerful people all across the world. United we can come through anything. And soon we will walk in the sun saying how glad we are that this is over and how much we appreciate our friends and neighbors.

Love you guys. Take care.

 

 

How to Learn Italian (Or Any Romance Language) Easily

How to Learn Italian (Or Any Romance Language) Easily
How to Learn Italian Easily

Ciao everyone!

I am gobsmacked at the number of people contacting me about moving to Italy. Seemingly everyone has an Italian dream.

But the one thing that strikes horror into them is the fact that they have to learn Italian.

Others hope that they will soak up Italian like a sponge when they get there, after all babies do that all the time.

But there is a difference. As babies, our lives were set up to teach us our new language. Mama takes us to the market and says “potato” a jillion times while pointing to a potato and sooner or later we associate the object with the word.

When I was 17 my family moved to Brussels for a year. Since there were several of us kids, my parents could not afford to put us in American schools and they wanted us to learn French.

So my sister and I were packed off to L’Institut Dames De Marie in Brussels where we started our quest to learn our school work and simultaneously learn French.

But we did not simply sponge up French despite being immersed in it all day. It was not until I enrolled with my parents in the evening classes taught in French to a bunch of disparate foreigners who all spoke different languages, that I really understand how to learn a foreign language and started really learning French.

Happily our instructor was Monsieur Jons who knew exactly how to teach someone to speak French.

I have used his technique to learn not only French but also Spanish and now Italian.

And his technique was different than most because it focused on the verbs.

Every class we had with him was heavily verb oriented. We conjugated hundreds of verbs and in a one year period we knew verb conjugation, irregular verb conjugation and past, present and future.  (Conjugate means to change the verb to fit  in the sentence.)

Once we knew those the rest was easy.

So following in Monsieur Jons’ footsteps, My recommendations are as follows:

First learn who you will be talking about:

I=Io
You (informal)=Tu
He/She=Lui/Ley
They=Loro
We=Noi
You (plural)=Voi

Next, learn the verb To Be. In Italian it is “Essere”

“Essere”

Io Sono= I am
Tu Sei=You are
Lui/Ley=He/She is
Loro Sono=They are
Noi Siamo=We are
Voi Siete=You (plural) are

Practice this by making up sentences with the verb conjugation and don’t worry about putting in some English words as long as you conjugate the verb correctly. :

“Io sono happy”. “Loro sono angry.” “Tu sei pretty.” etc.

Do this until you are very comfortable with the verb “essere” and all it’s present tense conjugations.

The next most important verb you must, must, must learn is the verb “To have” and this is “Avere”. This is vital for when you want to start talking in the past tense in that you can use “I have gone”, “You have seen”, etc and it makes talking in the past tense super simple.

“Avere”

Io Ho=I have
Tu Hai=You have
Lui/Ley ha=He/she have
Loro hanno=They have
Noi Abbiamo=We have
Voi avete=You (plural) have

Again, use these different conjugations in sentences mixed with English until you get the hang of it.

While doing this also download the Duolingo app. Duolingo is a great little app that lets you play fun games that help you drill your Italian without the pain and suffering. In fact, it is really fun.

I also recommend a set of CD’s called “Drive Time Italian“. This program is great in that it starts you from the very beginning and moves up from there. It also goes over verb conjugations, vocabulary and grammar. If you have a long commute you can learn a ton. I bought these and drilled the the CD’s probably about ten times each and it really stuck with me.

I also recommend “Italian for Dummies” as it also goes over the grammar and sometimes it is great to see things in writing. Also Italian for Dummies equipped me with a phrase that I thought was odd when I learned it but later realized how needed it was in Italy. It was “Signor! il Bancomat ha mangiato la Mia carta!” “Sir! the ATM has eaten my card”.

This came in tremendously handy when the ATM in Diamante ate my card and I had to go in the bank and explain what happened.

The book has a ton of other very handy phrases as well.

OK! it is time to get started! Learn these verbs and start using them. I will write another quick lesson for you soon.

For the accompanying Youtube video, check out our Youtube channel. 

 

More Reasons Why Calabria is the Perfect Retirement Destination

More Reasons Why Calabria is the Perfect Retirement Destination
Perfect coffee and cakes

Ciao again!

First off I want to thank you all for your interest in my article “Living in Paradise: Why Calabria, Italy is the Perfect Retirement Destination”  .

Of all the articles, this one has generated the most interest and motivated you to put pencil to paper and send me a note and I love that.

Since I wrote that article a lot has happened in our little corner of the Gulf of Policastro and Riviera de Cedri in Calabria (Cedro is a citrus fruit only found in Calabria)

Last Summer while I was there I was privileged to be invited to attend and speak at an event presented by our mayor with all the other local mayors in attendance.

This forum was designed to pull everyone together from the various villages and towns and to coordinate efforts to really promote the beauty and the products of Calabria.

After all Calabria has EVERYTHING!

Maratea borgo

And the Italian government is now making a concerted effort to open the area up for tourism, not only for the Europeans who tend to descend on Calabria every Summer and enjoy her beautiful beaches, but to the world at large.

For far too long, Calabria has been Europe’s best kept secret and the secret is out.

So aside from the points in my first post, what other possible reasons could there be to retire in Calabria?

I gatti
I gatti

There is an amazing group of people there

During the event last Summer, our mayor got up and spoke about how proud he and the entire village was that so many people of different nationalities called Santa Domenica Talao home. We have Americans, English, Irish, Russian, Swedes and Finns in our village. And our village has embraced every last one of us.

Summer is a blast. My friend Bonnie gets everyone together for parties. Occasionally we get invited to Peppino and Rosaria’s for Sunday lunch (Which is an occasion to die for. (Read about our epic meal here!)

Festival
Photo credit Oleg Magni

The festivals!

Honestly Calabria needs no excuse to put on a festival. And why not? The Pepperoncino Festival in Diamante is a massive hit every September.

One of my favorites is the pastry festival in Santa Maria Del Cedro, featuring the knee weakening delights of Pasticceria Arrone (Here is yet another blog post all about their pastries to die for.)

Add to that, festivals for wild mushrooms, pasta, sausages, swordfish, chocolate, red onions and a seemingly endless parade of religions festivals which are so fun and amazing, and you have something going on all the time.

Fried chilis
Crunchy fried chilis with sale and olive oil. AMAZING!

Every day I find another amazing restaurant.

When I am in San Jose, California there are one or two really good restaurants near me and you have to look for them. Most of the restaurants I have visited in California have been ok but not stellar.

Where we are in Calabria we have some really top notch chefs who get up every day and cook for the masses possibly without realizing how spectacularly talented they are.

In previous posts I have sung the praises of The Bella Vista in Santa Domenica Talao, Al Caminetto in Tortora, and Ristorante di Aliga in Maeira.

Ristorante di Aliga
Ristorante Di Aliga

But last Summer,  Bonnie and I grabbed our friends Sarah and Andy and we headed down to Scalea to La Perla del Terreno.

La Perla is a lovely restaurant on a gorgeous stretch of beach in Scalea. You can sit outside and let the sea breezes caress you while dining on amazing seafood pasta, Freshly caught and grilled sea bream, fries, gorgeous grilled vegetables and fruity white wine.

An afternoon spent gazing at the endless, deep blue sea, laughing with friends and eating heavenly food is the best reason to retire in Calabria.

For a Siciilian twist, head into the down town area of Scalea and visit Vulare Sicilane. 

This family owned restaurant boasts a compete menu ranging from swordfish served in a crust of pistachios to the Il Completo sandwich, served on a twisted home made roll topped with nuts and stuffed with sweet sausage, onion relish and delicious friend fries. It is my favorite sandwich ever created and as soon as I arrive in Calabria I head directly to Vulare for an Il Completo.

The first time my son visited us, he ordered the hambugerazzo at Vulare. Be prepared, this thing is massive. I saw the waiter emerge from the kitchen, his knees buckling and his muscles and sinews straining under the weight of the plate he was carrying.

I swear it was so big that  it blocked out the sun for a moment and my son with his back to the kitchen had no idea what was in store for him.

The waiter shoveled it onto the table and backed away saying over and over “piano piano!” Urging my son to take his time or he could hurt himself.

As it was, my son ate part of it and we all ate the rest of it for dinner that night. It was great both times.

After lunch you HAVE to have a canollo. Vulare makes their own and they are like milky heaven. Fresh ricotta is perfectly sweetened and sprinkled with choclolate chips then pressed into perfectly crafted pastry horn. No matter how much you have eaten, you will find that you still have room for a canollo and a cafe.

And unlike some restaurants in Italy, Vulare will give you a doggie bag!

Castle in Calabria
Castle in Calabria

There are secret treasures!

Word on the Strada, mostly from my friend Sarah, is that there is a little farm down the hill from us where the ladies craft their own ricotta cheese. I understand you can go and see how it is done. I have net yet been but plan to soon.

Fresh mushrooms in Santa Domenica Talao
Fresh mushrooms in Santa Domenica Talao

In addition there is a thrift type store where you can buy anything second hand. Due to the many renovations happening in Calabria, you can find some amazing hardware, furniture and light fixtures that you would never find anywhere else.

And as I have previously discussed, the market in Scalea is way too much fun. You can purchase anything from freshly made cheeses, to housewares to jewelry and clothing. It is never the same market twice and I always spend however much money I bring with me.

Market day
Market day

Each village has its own market day. Some are better than others. In Santa Domenica we have a smallish one but Tony from Morocco always has beautiful things for sale.

Santa Domenica Talao
Santa Domenica Talao, our beatiful home.

The mountains

I know we have the sea and we all love our sea views but the mountains rising up along the spine of Southern Italy are truly spectacular.

The first time we visited, I looked out the window of the plane and saw the magnificent jutting mountains rising up out of the clear blue sea and I could not contain my awe.

Of all the places God created, I think he must be proudest of Calabria. There is no other place like it.

And when you live there you get to experience these and so many other wonders every day.

Honestly, there are so many reasons to love Calabria. These are just a few. The best way to discover them is to come and see them for yourself.

Come to Santa Domenica Talao and look for us in the piazza. We will be having a gelato on a bench next to the church. We will look for you.

Scalea stair case
Scalea, Staircase

 

 

 

 

 

 

Absolutely Vital Steps to Purchasing Your Home in Italy

Absolutely Vital Steps to Purchasing Your Home in Italy
What you need to know to purchase your home in Italy

Caio!

And thank you for helping to make our recent Youtube videos so popular.

We have also received lots of news from Santa Domenica Talao, Italy letting us know that the work on our home renovations are going swimmingly.

We really can’t wait to see the finished project. You can see our renovations in the “during” phase right here. 

Obviously before purchasing our house almost ten years ago, Pete and I did a lot of research on purchasing a home in Italy.

The housing market in Italy is totally different than in America. In my recent video I went over the differences between an American home and a centuries old home in an Italian village.

Please do your own research but ultimately you will take these steps.

1. Find the area you want to be

There are several very important things to consider when choosing the area where you want to land.

a) Proximity to medical care and hospitals is super important.

Understand that medical services in Italy are very different than they are here in the US. Here if  we have something wrong, we make an appointment with a doctor and see him or her before getting any kind of treatment.

In Italy the pharmacies have pharmacists who are highly trained in diagnosis and treatment of the vast majority of health problems you might have.

For example if you have a sinus infection, you can get antibiotics over the counter. I once had a rash on my face and the pharmacists diagnosed the issue and handled it with the correct ointment.

My son once had food poisoning that he picked up before he arrived in Italy. He was in rough shape. I went to the pharmacy and they prescribed electrolytes and probiotics. He was much better after starting that treatment.

I do not know where the line is medically beyond which you have to see a doctor but there is a lot you can handle with your local pharmacist.

b) Check into the availability of the services you need and want.

For example if you need a hairdresser close by, or a nail salon, factor that into your decision.

c) What is the character or your city, town or village? 

Make sure it matches your own. The most perfect house in a village where you have massively different realities with the people there will not work out well.

d) Are there other ex pats?

Depending on your independence and confidence in being able to learn the language and to fall in with the customs, this may or may not be important to you. I can say that it can be exhausting trying to speak Italian all the time when you are learning and having someone to speak English with is a blessing.

However once you are up and rolling, that all could change. It all depends on what is important to you. I do highly recommend folding yourself in with your village no matter the language and cultural differences. This will give you the richest life experience.

e) Language

In Southern Italy, English is not a prevalent as it is up north. Even in the North when you get out of the bigger cities, you may not find a lot of English spoken.

Obviously you will want to learn Italian and speak like a local but after days of listening and learning, you can get some pretty wild brain fatigue and it is very nice to hear your native language.

2. Choose your agent

I hate to say it but some real estate agents in Italy are not honest and I am not necessarily talking about the locals. I have heard some real horror stories so be on the lookout.

Additionally the standard of responsibility for an agent in Italy may not be the same as in the US. The packet of documents you receive when purchasing a house in the US is massive. In Italy it is pages.  I do not know if disclosures are even a thing in Italy.

That said we found a wonderful agent in Ivan De Luca at Immobiliare Casabella in Scalea, Italy. I will provide all the data at the end of this post.

3. Obtain your Codice Fiscale

The Codice Fiscale is the Italian tax ID number and every big purchase requires that you have one. I bought beds recently and had to show my Codice Fiscale. You can obtain them at your local Italian embassy and it is not difficult but if you want to get it in Italy your agent can assist you with the process.

4. Choose your property

Where do you see yourself? Do you want an ancient hilltop village or a beautiful beach town? Do you want a busy city or a place in the country? All of these options have pros and cons.

In hill towns you will likely need a car whereas if you get a place in a town along the train lines, you can avoid the cost and hassle of having a car.

On the other hand if you purchase something close to the beach, understand that July and August can get extremely crowded with tourists.

That said you may be right in the thick of all of the festivals and events that occur in Summer. The hill towns and villages also have their version of the events but they are not as big as the busier cities.

Do you want a renovated house or apartment? Do you want something habitable that needs some cosmetics or do you want a complete renovation? All of these are good options but do your homework and get the costs in advance for all renovations and fixtures before making an offer on your house. Again there is a lot of useful information in my recent video .

Are you thinking of purchasing something off plan or to-be-built? ok, do me a favor and DON’T!! EVER!! EVER!!! EVER!!!

When I was researching our home purchase the first thing I did was get on the local forums where ex pats discussed experiences and issues. I also got onto forums in Spain and other countries as well as in Italy to see what experiences might be similar.

What I saw shocked me. So many people had purchased off plan (or to-be-built) projects that were never built. The contractors and these peoples’ money just disappeared like breath off a razor blade.

In another forum I read the story of a couple who had put a good amount of retirement money into a new build in Spain. Due to local misrepresentations of zoning laws, their house was bull dozed and there was no recourse.

The legal machinery in Italy grinds exceedingly slowly and you may never see a cent back in the event that you have to litigate. And litigation presupposes that you have tracked down the culprits who scammed you because they could be long gone.

I recommend that you buy something that you see before you and do not purchase anything with a build contract as the renovations may never happen.

We were shown an off plan build in our area ten years ago that we could have purchased for $120,000 Guess what? It was never built.

If you are thinking of getting something that needs renovations or needs to be rebuilt (Like many of the 1 euro houses) make sure that you get to know your builder and your architect before hand and are very comfortable with them. Then get all estimates up front before making an offer on your property.

Once you have all that data, make an offer that makes sense and be prepared to walk away.

Also be aware that not everything we expect in the US to be included in the price, is in fact included. Kitchens in Italy may or may not be included. They are like Lego sets and can be assembled and disassembled quickly. Take nothing for granted and if you want the kitchen, ensure it is in included in the deed. The same goes for light fixtures and just about anything else.

Also be aware that sometimes a garage or room in a house may belong to someone else. Take nothing for granted and ensure you know EXACTLY what all is included.

5. The purchase and dealing with the Notaio (Notary)

Notaries in Italy are way different than notaries in the US. According to Ivan De Luca, a PHD in economics and real estate agent extraordinaire, here is an outline of the Notaio’s functions:

a) The Notaio acts in favor of both the buyer and seller and works for the state.

b) The Notaio is a neutral third part and ensures that all documents comply with Italian real estate law.

c) Whether the transaction is done person to person or through an agent, the Notaio is required to oversee the transaction

d) The Notaio may execute certain checks after the  purchaser has paid a deposit. These checks might include each party’s rights to buy or sell a property, Whether there are any third party claims on the property (liens), a search to identify the presence of possible mortgages, and verification of planning permission.  The Notaio does not verify the compliance with planning permission only that planning permission was given.

e) The Notaio draws up the deed of sale (Atto di Vendita) based on the input from the seller or real estate agent.

f) The Notaio verifies the identities of the parties involved in the transaction.

g) The Notaio attends signing of the final sales contract and reads it aloud to both parties.

h) The Notaio ensure that the new deeds of ownership are registered at the Land Registry.

i) After the deed is registered, the Notaio gives copies of the deed to both parties.

After all of this is complete, congratulations! You are the proud owner of your Italian property!

Obviously this is an overview and since we are not attorneys, We are not giving legal advice here. Check with your real estate professionals in Italy and you can even check with your Notaio if you have questions. Also, if your transaction is complex or if you simply feel more comfortable, hire an attorney to assist you with the transaction.

Pete and I highly recommend Ivan De Luca who has acted not only as a real estate agent for us but has assisted us in setting up our business in Italy, managed our bills and advised us in so many ways on so many issues.

Ivan De Luca
Immobiliare Casabella, Scalea, Calabria, Italy
Parco Centro Marina, Via Lauro, 159, 87029 Scalea CS, Italy
+39 0985 90923

We recommend Ivan for the following reasons:

a) We have used him on several property transactions and despite some pretty grave obstacles, he has always found a way to get things done.

b) Ivan manages our rental properties and bill payments.

c) He is organized and completely transparent. You see where every penny is going.

d) Every time he makes a recommendation he backs it up with good logic and judgement.

e) He has seen everything in the Italian property market and knows what to do in every circumstance.

f) He is fluent in both Italian and English.

g) He is a one stop shop.

In addition to the sales process Ivan can assist you with these issues:

Fully assisted viewings with English translations
Provides assistance obtaining your Codice Fiscale
Offers translation services at the closing meeting
Full before and after sales assistance.
Assistance wtih residency and/or business set up
Bill payment/management
Renovation management and rental services
He has a PHD in economics and knows the Italian system very well.

We have found Ivan to be a valuable partner in all of our property handlings.

I hope that this blog post and the accompanying videos have been helpful to you. Please continue to send me your feed back and any subjects you want to hear about or any questions you have.

Ciao for now!

 

 

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