Friday, January 15, 2010

House Hunt Italia

Our Visas arrived so we can now honestly say we are on our way!  Yahoo.  After the wave of relief subsided, I began to review the path that led to this unusual decision. But the fun part was to try and recall all the details of our house hunt.  I thought I would document what I remember here because it’s starting to fade…

I don’t know if any of you watch HGTV.  I found it in the past year (AFTER our house hunt in Italy) because when we moved from the farm, we were finally able to try out cable TV.  Mostly it’s junk…and to be honest, if I wasn’t so interested in culture (sociology of) and architecture, I would call HGTV junk too.  But it totally fascinates me.  They even have a program called “House Hunters International” where they feature mostly tropical climes with Americans looking for vacation homes.  I find it intriguing and embarrassing.  I’m intrigued because I love to look inside houses, any houses.  I find it embarrassing when I compare the American attitude to the European.  In short, we are house hogs.  We want huge homes with bedrooms containing bathrooms that MUST have double sinks.  I had no idea so many people share the bathroom to the point that they would need two sinks.  Any items in the house that may hark back to another time are instantly dubbed "outdated" and hopelessly "grandma" and otherwise outre.  This makes me shake my head.  Not just because I like old stuff but because it's so shamefully not "green".  The house hunters on these shows see no connection between their love for the modern and updated with waste.  I love to restore old places but not for the sake of making them say "today",  "modern", and "ungrandma".  What's wrong with history?

In 2007, Doug and I came from the farm, had no cable TV then, and innocently went to Italy to look for a house to spend the rest of our days lovingly fixing up in between our travel adventures.  None of those fancy ideas were in our heads.  We were thinking small and old.

The trip started on the beach in Tropea (Italian language school...that's Doug in the surf) and on week-ends went back north to meet realtors to look at the small and the old.  Our rented house in Tropea was our first initiation to an Italian restoration.

The first stop on the hunt was the centro storico of Scalea.  Scalea is an old town but it is also built up around it to accommodate the yearly August onslaught of Italians from Naples looking for the beach.  One place was charming and very old.  But the ceilings were too short for Doug.
Another was definitely a good option.  It had a lovely view, but needed work and was priced too high considering the work needed.  The other problem was we were wary of Scalea in August.  Crowds are anathema to folks who are used to the outback.

We also went to Santa Maria del Cedro (an adjacent hilltown) to see if we liked some finished apartments there.   They all seemed to lack the stupendous view that we were looking for.  Nothing seemed to grab us. (much to the frustration of our agent, Tony).

Then we came to Santa Domenica Talao and found our niche.  We loved it (as described in our recent posts)

The house was indeed small but we were blown away by the view and by the fact that the terrace was right off the future kitchen, rather than hidden away in an upstairs roof terrace.  We had found our Italian home. 

Note our hopelessly outre old furniture.  If you are interested in the before and after pictures, you can find them on the Scalea Forum.


  1. Oh wow, that view !

    Glowering jealously from foggy, flat Lomellina.

  2. Hi,
    I've just discovered your blog through Expat Women via Bleeding Expresso. I have a special fondness for Calabria as my grandfather was from there. Two years ago we took an unforgettable trip to the region, using Tropea as our home base, and absolutely fell in love with it. I look forward to living vicariously through your adventures of life in Calabria.

  3. Thanks and welcome. Stop by SDT on your next trip. Sarah, your blog is great..
    Ciao, di

  4. Is this the house you eventually rented? Best wishes!

  5. Yes, but I'm afraid (no really, I'm very happy) we bought it.

  6. Thanks, Di. Especially for the pics from the "River Walk": feeling home-sick now. Anyway I tried a little game of finding "your" stream on Google map (and then to find your casa in the "street view" of Google map). I think you can see the stream (using the satellite view), it's got no name, looses itself into a thick forest patch and then it winds its way south-west to finally open into the Fiume Lao just by the road to Contrada Bonicose. :-)



  7. Thank You so much for your site and blog.
    I lOVE to read it, it inspires all of us.
    the pictures of Vince are the best...plese let us know if he is still with you, if so, how is he??

  8. Thank you Teresa. It's extremely motivating to get comments like yours!
    Vince made it fine. He is old but not any more crippled up by it than we are!

  9. Ciao Diana and Guido,

    I used to spend all my summer's in SDT, since my family is from there... It's such a beautiful little town, and I'm very happy to see the pictures of the magical view, thank you so much for making this blog

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  11. Congratulations,for your site,especially the photos are very beautiful...hello by Mary Salemme

  12. Very good pictures, I love this country, I hope this year I can make it, Im already saving money for the trip.

  13. Congratulations,and thank you for sharing your experiences. Very helpful to those like me that are only at the dreaming stage of re-locating. We are bit freighted about renovating, as we both don't have imaginative minds to see things that others like you can see. That terrace view is stunning. I originate from Villa d'Agri Valley and it is so beautiful. Don't know if we will relocate there or closer to the sea in a few years. Best Wishes Egidio (Jim) & Debbie



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