Friday, October 7, 2011


For the past 2 years, L and I have been looking to buy a small home in Italy. One would think when you have an entire country in which to look, that the process would be reasonably easy. However it has proved rather tricky, for it is only after seeing places that are not suitable, can you clearly define the parameters of what is important in the quest for a home under the Italian sun. In the end we decided we could not compromise on the following factors - 
1.An old home with original characteristic appearance including terracotta floors, gnarled timber beams & thick stone walls
2.Within the old city walls of whatever place we chose
3.Within easy access to a major airport and close to major arterial roads
4.Local amenities such as restaurants and services within walking distance from the home. 
5.An area to be able to sit outdoors - a small balcony or a loggia, but somewhere to enjoy a wine in the Italian sun
6.Our limited budget! 
So, after looking at many different regions and countless houses in each of those regions, 6 months ago we found a small town called Citta Della Pieve on the Tuscan/Umbrian border and it is absolutely delightful. It ticked all of our boxes. In this town we looked at a quite a number of homes and then found one we fell in love with. After negotiations from Australia and a trip back to sign the initial contract, just over 6 months later, we have celebrated our first night here! And we couldn't be happier with our choice!

It is certainly characteristic, in a building which the previous owners told us was built around 1650. It was part of a large palazzo which was subdivided 20years ago and they restored it with simplicity and a light hand. It has been their holiday home for these 20years and their creative personalities have produced painted walls and ceilings in most of the rooms (not all will stay... but time will tell as to what replaces them). It has cotto (terracotta) floors which dip significantly all over, thick walls which are a long way from straight and monumental old timber beams to hold the ceiling up. It is not large and certainly not grand, but absolutely perfect for us, with a loggia (covered terrace) that has an arched terracotta roof and a sign embed on the wall which states it was restored in 1843. The view from where I sit as I write this post is out to the magnificent countryside and mountains in the surrounding area. I have no doubt we shall spend many hours in this exact spot working on our computers or simply sharing a glass of wine with each other.

So here are some photos -

The entry to the communal ingresso is the door shown here. Unlike any other places we looked at, over the past 2 yrs, this apartment is on the ground floor (therefore no stairs, which in Italy can be particularly onerous) yet the loggia (covered terrace) at the back is elevated one level due to the slope of the land - a perfect scenario really! 

 View from our loggia

 The loggia with beautiful old arched roof

The Living room with original fireplace (that we are told works very well) and paint colour that was reproduced from sample chips found under layers of other paint. Imperfect beautiful cotto floors and timber beams that have stood in place for almost half a millennia.  

 The previous owners painted the entry vestibule in precise detail. The 2nd bedroom entry is on the left of this photo and the living room entry is to the right.

 Our beautiful historic loggia

The view down the lane way outside the 2nd bedroom window 

Currently we are camping in a way - a new air bed mattress (which is surprisingly comfortable) and a table and chairs left by the previous owners are the sum total of our current furniture, but it couldn't be better as we are so delighted to call this piece of history our home.

There are definitely things that I would like to do to this home (all Designers like to stamp a place with their own ideas), but in the first instance we will just take it slowly and think. We intend to spend some months here in the beginning of 2012 so it will give us time to consider the choice of furnishings and to enjoy the process of gathering pieces that will make it our home and a reflection of us. I imagine it to have a collection of mismatched antique/2nd hand finds with personality, warmth and soul - not too perfect, but 'lived in' and real. Comfortable furniture to sink into and read a good book and a place to sit and relax while I beat L in a game of Scrabble, are also essential.

Winter is cold, and Summer is hot in this part of the world, so the interior choices will need to accommodate both ends of the climatic spectrum.  

So after 3 months here, from Christmas this year, and hopefully fully furnished with a collection of finds, this home will then be ready for holiday rental. With only one and a half hours by train to both Rome and Florence (we sit almost exactly half way between the two), it is a wonderfully central location to discover Italy and still relax in the laid back nature of the Italian countryside. In addition, one can sit on the loggia and enjoy the beautiful produce and wine from the surrounding region. 

La Vita e Bella! Carpe Diem!