Who hasn’t wanted to rescue an ancient house that was once filled with families, honor, fine food and love?
Millions of us have watched “Under the Tuscan Sun”, some of us many times (that would be me!) and as we did so we dreamed of perhaps one day, finding a house that speaks to us and begs us to give it a second chance at glory.
As you may know, my husband and I purchased a house in the Calabrian hill town of Santa Domenica Talao, Italy. Our village, like so many others in the area, has a lot of abandoned ruins.
Back in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s many Italians fled Italy to America looking for a better life. Most of them were from Calabria and, although they have made great contributions to us in America in terms of food, family and culture, they left holes in their villages. As a result the abandoned homes have been left to degenerate into a sad state of disrepair.
As you wander through our village you see these empty old beauties and you can’t help but think about how they might look all done up like new. But many of them have been salvaged and brought back to life, once again filled with love and family.
The street leading to the piazza is lined with beautifully renovated houses, all except for the ancient beauty that rises up over the street like a grand old lady, the only house on the block that needs a redo.
And, ever since my husband and I looked at her when we were in the market for our current house, we have never gotten free of her mysterious pull and finally after 9 years, we decided to purchase her and turn her into a BNB.
This lovely lady standing at Via XXIV Maggio, is ours at last.
This was not a simple Italian property transaction. My husband and I decided to use some retirement money to set up a self directed IRA and purchase, renovate and run the BNB through this company. This means that we had to set up a separate company and deal with all of the tax and bureaucratic infrastructure that goes along with it.
Add to that the trouble we ran into getting the tax ID number and some other assorted bits of trouble and, well it took a bit to get it done.
Happily we had some big hitters and “get it done” people on our side. I want to take the opportunity to send out massive kudos to Antonello Lucchesi, our architect and Ivan De Luca, our estate agent and all around get it done guy. These two ran into so many obstacles and found ways around them all. It was really epic!
I also have to thank our seller Anne for being to gosh darned patient with our bits of trouble and hanging in with it all.
At Last it is Time to Renovate!
While Pete and I were in Santa Domenica last time, we had the opportunity to sit down with Antonello and his staff and go over the layout of all the rooms.
From the front, the house looks a lot smaller than it is. She has a ground floor and another floor above it however her generous backside rolls down the hill giving two more good sized floors that can be turned into accommodations.
In the end we will have four “studiette” apartments with ensuite bath and coffee and fridge facilities and a full sized, one bedroom apartment.
Most of the apartments will have views of the mountains and the sea and one will have a balcony overlooking the street. We also have a large roof terrace where residents can enjoy sweeping views of the mountains and the sea from high above the village.
We have decided that we wanted a communal kitchen and eating area where breakfast will be served daily and where we can have events and classes.
And the best news we received while we were there? The cooking school that our mayor has been wooing is finally going to arrive!
As our renovations progress we plan to be in conversations with the cooking school to see about putting together vacation packages for those who want to learn real Calabrian cooking from the masters. In addition we will have ladies from our village teaching classes on everything from pasta making to meats to all of the seemingly millions of appetizers that one finds here.
We will have morning field trips down to the world famous Pasticceria Arrone for coffee and to die for cakes, beach trips, photography tours and whatever else we can think of.
So with the final signatures on all the documents and the money having changed hands, we are ready to start phase 2, renovations!
Stay with us along the way and watch as this beauty regains her past glory and takes her rightful place as one of Santa Domenica’s leading ladies of the piazza.