Ruin Flippers! From Medieval to MAGNIFICENT!

The road to ruin; Santa Domenica Talao
Road leading to the palace


Hi Everyone!

I have been in Santa Domenica Talao all week and if you have been following me on Facebook and Youtube, you know I have been up to some really fun and cool things and I am designating a portion of this blog  “Ruin Flippers”.

To start off with, I have been working with our village architect and contractor on renovations for the house my husband and I purchased in 2011.

When we bought our place here in Santa Domenica, it was a good sized apartment but we needed more bedrooms. So we purchased the ruin that is attached to our place with the idea that one day we would fix it up.

Initially we were thinking of making the ruin into a separate apartment but then we decided that it would be much more practical if we opened up the wall between our living room and the ruin and expanded our current living space.

This gives us an open plan living area and a new kitchen while freeing up the existing kitchen to be a good sized bedroom. Ultimately we will have two more bedrooms, another bathroom and another  balcony with sweeping views of the sea.

Soooo I met with Antonello the architect and one thing led to another. In the end we are getting a roof terrace as well and another storage and laundry room up top.

For a better picture of how this will roll out, please see my Youtube video as I walk you through the house and explain the changes.

Ruined Palace Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
The ruined palace

Knowing that we are renovating our house, Antonello, the village architect and incredibly smart historian insisted that I see the inside of the massive ruined palace that sits at the top of the village overlooking what used to be the original piazza.

Our village is actually upside down from what it used to be. The old piazza used to be at the top back of the village and overlooked the mountains. The newer one is in the front and overlooks the Mediterranean.

Ruin Flipper Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
The courtyard entrance. The stables are on your right

In its heyday, the ruined palace overlooked the piazza and the little alleyway that ran down from the upper piazza to the church. The alleyway was filled with shops and stalls all the way down and as you walk down from the top today following it, you can see how it might have looked.

The front door of this ruin is actually located on the opposite side from the road leading up to it and half way down a little alleyway.

The palace is a block long, multiple levels and God knows how many square meters.

Antonello took us in through the locked door that opened onto a small courtyard. On your right were the old stables (The stables were placed under the residences so that the body heat from the animals rose and helped keep the upper floors warm in Winter. One can imagine that the smell also rose with it which gives you a slightly unwelcome glimpse into what life there might have been like back then)

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
The entry way with the beautiful terrazzo floors.

Going up the from steps, the front door opened into a large entryway with a huge hallway/living space beyond it. And as you walk in, you step back in time to the late 1890’s when this palace was in its original grandeur.

For now, the beautiful terrazzo floors are covered with dust. The original furniture remains along with the teapots and dishes.

Ruin Flipper Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
Midcentury sofa in a medieval ruin

A sofa that was new in the 1950;s looks oddly out of place next to the walls that have been standing since the medieval period.

As you walk through the grand hall to the front of the house, you enter a huge drawing room big enough to be a ball room.

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
A little TLC and she could be as grand as she once was.
Ruin Flipper. SantaDomenica, Talao, Calabria, Italy

In front are two large balconies overlooking what used to the the main piazza and the center point of the village.

The walls are covered with bright red wallpaper which, upon close inspection of the newspaper backing it, reveals a date of 1960’s when the wall paper was added to dress up the space.

The floors however were the most beautiful part of this huge room. Again covered with decades of dust, the tile floor is a complex pattern of painted tiled put together to look like a fine carpet.

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Talao,Calabria, Italy
Dishes and furniture, untouched

Although the floor is covered with dust, you can look at the walls, the furniture left in the other rooms, the chandelier that has been promised to the church in the new piazza, and see exactly what this room once looked like. It was grand and beautiful.

As Antonello took us on a walking tour through the house he pointed out pictures on the wall.

Ruin Flipper Santa Domenica Talao Calabria Italy
A snapshot in time

One picture was a daughter of the owner. Antonello told us her sad history and her photo shows a sadness that is frozen in time here on a wall in the corner of the hallway.

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Tavola, Calabria, Italy
Old kitchen
Ruin Flipper, San ta Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy

As we made our way through, more photos were revealed, again frozen in time and miraculously still attached to the walls waiting for someone to collect them.

According to Antonello, the owners of the house want to sell it and sell it for cheap. (Updated note: when I wrote this the building was for sale, now it is free with the caveat that the buyers renovate an apartment in the building for the current owners. The building willl be subdivided accordingly but the house is so massive, there is PLENTY of room left over for a giant house or several apartments.) The owners understand the amount of work it would take to repair and restore this beauty and it is a labor of love that Antonello showed it to me in the hopes that I might help him find the perfect someone who wants to restore a beautiful place in the a perfect little hill town in Santa Domenica Talao, Italy and live there.

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
View from window

This place would make a stunningly beautiful home for someone who wants to live in a place where life is piano, piano, love and community are still important and where food, art, architecture and beauty reign supreme.

If you are that special person, please contact me. The asking price is peanuts and I know the local builder and Antonello would love to set their considerable talents to work redesigning the spaces so that they work for a modern lifestyle.

Ruin Flippers, Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
Old treasures

In the end you could own a palace that takes up an entire block at the top of a stunningly beautiful village in Calabria for less than you would pay for a crappy condo in San Jose, California.

And if you want to join the ranks of Ruin Flippers, you could live here in Santa Domenica Talao, in the most beautiful village in the world.

For detailed video descriptions of the village and our project click here and here.

Santa Domenica Talao

If you are interested in purchasing any property (And there are many) I am offering a consulting package.  Pete and I will personally set up your accommodations, take you on tours of the local villages, hill towns and seaside towns and will set you up with the builders, agents and architects so that you can get all of your questions answered.   We will personally show you around and arrange everything. Most of the amazing properties I have seen recently in our village are not on the Italian multiple listing service so you will only see them here.

In addition our architect, Antonello has selected 50 properties (so far) that he is preparing to offer. Pete and I are going to be creating video tours and Antonello will create floor plans, recommended renovations and estimates as to the cost of renovations if desired.

If ruins do not appeal to you, there are renovated properties available that are so cheap you could almost put them on a credit card. .

They are very affordable and have magnificent views of mountains or the sea. It is a buyer’a market right now so a great time to buy.

For advice on moving to Italy, please check out my interview with Bonnie Gale Oliver. She gives you a glimpse of life in the village and valuable advice on how to make the move.

Pete and I have also created an online video course and Ebook that gives you everything you need to know about purchasing a property in Italy and/or moving there. You can see the details here:

And stay tuned for detailed pictures and videos of our own renovation projects. We are renovating our house and have purchased  a property that would make fabulous BNB. We are ironing out the renovation details right now but we will soon be in full swing.

See you there!

XO Chris

PS for more photos and reasons to chuck your life and move to Italy, check out my blog post on why Calabria is such a great retirement destination.

16 Replies to “Ruin Flippers! From Medieval to MAGNIFICENT!”

  1. Good morning,

    My wife and I are looking to move to Italy and love the Calabria region. I saw the video about the property and wanted to know if it is still available?

    1. Hi Luther,
      Yes it is! If you like you can send me an email to and I can send you information about it and the village. It is a stunning grand house just waiting for someone to create it into the beauty she once was. Calabria is quite inexpensive so renovation costs are not nearly as high as in the North. I think you will be enchanted. Pete and I are just waiting for this quarantine to be lifted and we are heading over. We will be there all Summer so if you want to come look, we can help you.

    1. Hi Jeanne,
      I do not have listings myself but you can find all kinds of properties on the Idealiste site Here is a link:
      If you search in the area of Scalea, Praia a Mare, San Nicola Arcella and the Riviera Dei Cedri you can see tons of beautiful properties. PLease contact Ivan De Luca if you have questions about a property. I do not know the agents on Idealiste but I can vouch for Ivan. Here is his email.
      Please let me know how your search goes!

  2. I am looking to retire in 4 years. I have lived abroad in Asia for 30 years and have no desire to go back to the States, but do not know where to go. After seeing your videos, I got excited. Renovating a place is a bit daunting and I would prefer as you say to live in a place for a while before taking on such a project. I would love to keep in contact to find out more.

    1. Hi Charles, definitely you should stay wherever looks interesting to you before you commit to purchasing a property if that’s what you want to do. Even if you do decide to purchase, there are many inexpensive properties that have already been renovated and are ready to move into.

  3. So I see that you have had this posted for several months. I am curious to know if the Palace is still in need of love. If so why do you think it still remains So? I cautiously interested.

    1. Absolutely the palazzo is looking for a new owner! The current owners are renegotiating the terms of their offer to not require that an apartment be set aside for them to live in. The price will no longer be “free” but it will still be reasonably low enough to be a good deal for someone willing to undertake this restoration project. Stay tuned to our YouTube channel for updates!

  4. Chris and Pete,

    Thank you for your generosity in sharing so much information and your nice videos. I’ve wanted to retire in Italy but didn’t think about Calabria. Time to start exploring….

    Very best,

  5. Hello.. very interested in finding a home in Calabria Santa Dominico – 1 euro or 2000. Euros .
    I’m a lady alone.
    I’m from New Zealand.
    Love you to get in touch, and HELPING rescue my efforts from here very tricky.
    Love and hugs.

    1. Hi Lin, I’m glad to see you’re interested in a property in Santa Domenica Talao. However, the lowest prices for properties there are generally around 12,000 Euros. If you’re looking for something less expensive, I would encourage you to search on

  6. Hi Pete,

    Is this still for sale? Any ballpark idea what a remodel of this place would cost? Do you think it could be done for under $100,000? Do you know of any places like this but around 1000-2000 square feet?

    1. Hi Laura,
      The palazzo is still for sale, with pricing being established. Our architect estimated 80K euro for renovations but that’s just a very rough estimate and would depend exactly on what the buyer wanted to do with the property. There is a large property in similar condition, it’s actually another palazzo listed for 75K euro, that’s 325 square meters which is over 3000 sq.ft. You can take a look at it here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.