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Posts Tagged ‘busman’s holiday’

House Hunting in Italy – A Busman’s Holiday??

I don’t know any real estate agent or broker who doesn’t live their profession pretty  much 24/7.  I don’t mean they are in their office every day or showing properties every day but whether it is meeting new people to expand your network or staying in touch with your circle of friends and those that are in a position to recommend  you or previewing new properties, well that’s the life of a real estate salesperson.  So even on vacation, you can probably rest assured that we (that’s me) will look a the postings in the windows of local real estate firms, read the local real estate magazines and some cases (uh oh now it’s getting personal) will actually engage a local broker to show them some property.  BUT wait, that’s not to mean they would waste another professional’s time by asking to be taken out but have no intention of purchasing,  No, when it’s just real estate curiosity that has taken hold on of oneself, then the appropriate thing to do is just go to some Open Houses,   Well that’s enough about practices here in the United States, don’t forget I’m in Italy (so to speak).

My trip to Italy was predicated on two major ideas; first to discover my roots and see the village my grandfather, Luciano Fantacone was born and raised in and secondly to explore the possibility of buying an inexpensive property in Italy, specifically Guardia Sanframondi.

I intentionally contacted Pasquale Orso about lodging and knew that he had assisted other Americans in finding a home there.   Within the first hour of meeting Pasquale, he spent considerable time explaining to me that he had connections and he could find us the perfect place.  I spent considerable time explaining to him that this was more of an exploratory trip and that I wasn’t planning on buying anything this trip!  The greater gist of this conversation was Pasquale extracting a commitment from me NOT to allow any random person on the street to entice me to look at some house because we were obviously Americans. ( Many Americans have already purchased property in Guardia Sanframondi).  I told him I understood and as a real estate broker would not do that.

That brings us to the afternoon that Pasquale is going to show us two houses;  We all      (literally 5 of us) pack into a small (tiny) Italian car and off we go to some outlying street of the town and one must park the card sort of off road at the top of a small incline.   The house is below in front of us, very sweet ranch like property with no lawn (I didn’t seem much lawn at all anywhere), however a very large patio with a rather make-shift open wall roofed structure off to one side where lots of potted plants were residing.  I thought I heard him say something about keeping the plants out of direct sunlight.  The house itself had a LOT of possibilities although Peter didn’t seem to think so.  There were really only 2 rooms;  A large great room that was the length of the house and featured an open kitchen (not exactly our standards) a fireplace, a kitchen table, a dining room table and chairs and living room furniture.  At the end of the room next to entrance to the bedroom was a very modern bathroom.  The house was not filled with light, not that many windows.  We went to the bedroom which was so big, not to make into two rooms would be a crime.  It was also dark but I believe there was a possibility of creating another window at one end.  Since Pasquale’s english isn’t exactly perfect I wasn’t clear on the configuration of the property as it seemed to be somehow connected to 3 other homes although not visibly.  He was talking about some Count or Prince or some nobility that at one time owned the estate.  The house had two small outbuilding rooms that were connected to the house  and were being used as storage sheds BUT they had two tiny windows that looked out on the mountains AND they could be enlarged.  Peter was not impressed that much and now in retrospect I think it was a shame that we saw this one first.  Cost $35000.  I’m sorry to say I don’t have a photo of the house, but this was the view.  

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I Wonder How Long It Takes Before You Get Tired Of Looking At The Beautiful Mountains?

Secundo – we are now back on one of the two main streets in Guardia and as we head down a hill, Giuseppe, a friend of Pasquale and our new driver, pulls off to the side of the street.  We are in front of a huge 3 story house.  You know using the word house here is a bit of a misnomer.  There are houses as we know them, if not in a recognizable style, they are at least wooden structures with roofs.  This is a tall thin stone structure, with a garage door (be still my heart)!  A house with a garage in the main part of town (not the medieval city).  As we enter, the first thing I see are the stairs, so many of them…But first to our immediate right there is a very large room, freshly painted and with a new floor and huge window looking at…the mountains!  And at the other end of the room, what did we see but the garage door!! Apparently the previous owners decided a first floor room was much more marketable than a garage, NOT!  Maybe they didn’t own a car, because parking on the narrow streets of Guardia is not exactly easy.  OK, so no garage, let’s go up and look.  Very steep stairs to the second floor where there are two bedrooms, nice views.  Up some more stairs, also very steep and lo and behold there’s the kitchen with a Juliet balcony, how clever, NOT.  Aside from my comments and the fact that I climbed the stairs barely breathing, it was clear to Giuseppe that this house was not for us!

                                                                                                     To be continued…

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