Renovating a House in Italy: Paul’s Story (Part Two)
In part one of this article, we met Paul, who tells his story of renovating a house in Italy. In part two, he tells us about the renovations and how he found adjusting to Italian life.
“We were very quickly welcomed by all of our neighbours and were invited to join the local ‘Circolo’ that held regular events in what used to be the local school – lunches, dinners, dances for all sorts of reasons, as well as Christmas, New Year and Easter parties.
I think we were very privileged to be welcomed that way and certainly the friendship and hospitality of Marchigiani folk is very genuine and most enjoyable – all you have to do really is join in! Easier sometimes than others but great fun.”
“We regularly get gifts from our neighbours of various foods and drinks that they have made at home and it’s quite common in shops to be given that ‘something a little bit extra’ or indeed a ‘gift’ from the shop owner!
Having made great strides ( but not fully finished ) with the house restoration I also started to set about bringing the land and garden area back to life.
READ MORE: OUR ITALIAN RENOVATION STORY – EXPAT Q&A
We have now planted about 80 – 90 new trees, both fruit and ornamental, dessert grapes, currants, berries, kiwi and many shrubs and bushes. We kept it very Italian, not in an English garden way! Now we are told by the local people that we are ‘Contadini’ – which means farmers/smallholders or peasants!
The art to renovating a house in Italy
We now have areas of wildflower meadow, orchard, olive grove, ‘orto’, paddock and a wooded area with walks and seating areas – all with fabulous mountain and National Park views. We share our land with roe deer, wild boar, porcupine, badgers, foxes and wolves, buzzards and many other bird species that pass through on migration.
Something we really enjoy is what we call ‘eating in season’ – everything here is so fresh and has probably been grown or reared only a few kilometres away – certainly there is no compromise on variety either.
Renovating a house in Italy & adjusting to Italian life
Taking the time and making the effort to learn the language is responded to well and I think is a must. This really allows you to mix and integrate with your and other communities and does make you feel that you belong.
Overhearing Italians talking together can sometimes be a bit strange, certainly to some English people – you hear and see much passion, many gestures, rapid words and high volume – but don’t worry, it’s not a fight ( well not usually ) it is just the Italian way. It can seem a bit brusque or even impolite to us foreigners but it’s not – it’s just the culture. For example, you rarely hear an Italian say ‘please’ but they will always say ‘thank you’ and give best wishes for work, life, tomorrow etc.
During most months of the year there are many ‘Sagre’ (celebrations) that celebrate the typical seasonal foods, wines and beers of Le Marche and many other ‘Feste’ (festivals).
There are obviously adjustments to living in another country but my advice is remember you are the visitor, people will help or advise you readily with anything, and once you get used to most places closing at lunchtime for anything up to three hours then it’s no problem!
Patience is a virtue that pays off in Italy and the pace of life is much slower in Le Marche than in for example the UK, family values are very high as is taking the time to enjoy life.
Nothing HAS to be done in a hurry.
The climate is fabulous. Even in winter we get many beautiful sunny days to enjoy the fabulous scenery.
The experience of moving here has certainly had its challenges but we have no regrets, you can achieve your dream, whatever it is, it’s up to you!
I do not miss the UK at all and at this point of my life I don’t envisage returning, but who knows – never say never!”
READ MORE: RENOVATING ITALY