Posts Tagged With: buying a house in italy

Sticky Tape Car Windows, The Roadtrip of Searing Heat and Buying a House in Italy

Ciao a tutti,

Well I’ve been a bit quiet of late I know – I’m back in the UK for a little bit and have been manically doing up a property that I’m hoping to rent out so it hasn’t left much time for anything else!

We drove back to the UK a week or two back. Why drive I hear you ask? Because I have to get the car MOT’d back in the UK so that I can get it taxed and insured. It’s an expensive undertaking when you take into account petrol, road tax, hotels and eating out (or buying food which immediately melts, whatever it is, in the heat of the car). Having calculated it and I think I could have gone to the Maldives instead by the time I drive back to Italy too!

Having said that, to buy a car last year was too stressful and potentially too expensive because I didn’t have a “residenza” (Residency. In fact, I’m still not entirely sure I have it. I would have liked a medal as proof). So I think I did the right thing sticking with a UK car.  But I’m going to dedicate the next few months to trying to resolve the car buying/insuring in Italy issue as I’m going to need a four-wheel drive to get to and from my new house in the winter. Anyway, let me tell you about the roadtrip!

Roadtrip

The roadtrip prep commenced a couple of weeks ago when the passenger window slid down into the car door. It did this 2 days before the last roadtrip too. The car has a sixth sense. Without any time to fix it, the first part of the roadtrip was characterised by whoever was passenger having to hold the window in place.  The second half was considerably better following a sticky tape mission. This at least was slightly less embarrassing when it came to paying the road tolls – at least there was an obvious excuse for opening the door and not the window like normal people.

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Sticky tape – what every car window needs…

Despite my misgivings about the cost and the sauna like temperatures resulting from the lack of opening capability for the passenger window, it was good nonetheless.

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Melted dairy milk bar. The heat was overpowering but I must say, we discovered something AMAZING. What you do is buy a bag of Maltesers, leave it in a searing hot car for 3 days, put in a hotel minibar fridge and an hour later – voila, the best chocolate bar of all time.

And anyway, you don’t get to appreciate the countryside by flying over the top of it (apart from the alps always looking very majestic from the air). The route back took us past:

Genoa: We were actually outside of Genoa really so didn’t get a good feel for the main town. In fact, all we got a good feel for was the commercial centre. I didn’t even take any photos. Poor blogging effort I know.

Monaco: Wow! Very impressive sky-line and water. I was upset I didn’t bring my swimming costume. I’m not into the F1 particularly but it was interesting to see the road/race-track. I can imagine that would be good to watch (for 5 minutes).

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The stunning Monaco…

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And the sea front – this was taken from the race track

Cannes: The harbour was nice – full of flashy boats and it looked like it had a nice shopping area. Alas by this point we were hot, sticky and grumpy from a stressful drive out of Monaco (stupid sat-nav) and into Cannes (stupid road signs) so I think it might require a revisit at some point. 🙂

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Lots of jealous-making expensive yachts in Cannes…

Avignon: Historic town in France with a very grand cathedral with holes in the walls to shoot your enemies with arrows (in a churchly manner of course) and had some nice piazzas or whatever they’re called in France! It’s definitely worth a visit.

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Pretty cathedral in Avignon…

Nimes: We thought that it would be too expensive to stay around Avignon so I randomly selected a nearby town, Nimes, to stay in. Alas, Nimes had the most expensive hotel of the entire trip and thieves in the car park to boot! Two poor people had their cars broken into overnight. Little did the thieves know all they needed to do was to tap my passenger window to gain access. To think – they could have swiped my Malteser bar!

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The Forum in Nimes

Between Nimes and the Middle of Nowhere Near Limoges where we were staying, there was the Millau Bridge, designed by Norman Foster. A very impressive bridge indeed – I recommend a visit!

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The spectacular Millau Bridge

Middle of Nowhere Near Limoges: I booked a B&B in the middle of nowhere in Limoges. No matter what setting I put in my Sat Nav, if there is a small one lane road through the countryside, it will insist we take that road rather than the much more direct motorway. So instead of the 4.30 hours it was supposed to take, I think it took about 8. And then we didn’t have an en-suite. I should never be responsible for booking accommodation. Gorgeous countryside though.

Somewhere Near Le Mans: I knew Le Mans sounded familiar. It turns out it’s where they have an endurance race around a track for 24 hours. It was the same weekend we were there so very good timing. We’d booked a lovely random hotel – Hotel De France, in an area not even particularly near Le Mans and it became apparent that it was the hotel where the drivers/owners/other famous people stay (I wasn’t responsible for booking that one). The Nanmobile, with its sticky-taped-up window fitted in beautifully with the other cars in the car park (Lamborghinis / Ferraris).

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This is the hotel. You can see that outside the hotel there’s a very flash car which everyone is admiring. In the car park are other flash cars. In the corner of the photo is my sticky taped Fiat Panda. I’m a bit upset that it didn’t draw the same crowd that the other cars seemed to. Carist! Pfft.

 

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Pretty little village where Hotel De France is…

Caen: And then we finally got to Caen for an hour or two before the Ferry left.

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And back to the UK 🙂

Crazy Italian Driving

What was most noticeable about the trip was the almost immediate difference between driving in France and driving in Italy! The Italians all drive in the middle or the fast lane. If they see that you’ve left over a cars length of space between yourself and the car in front, they’ll do a risky overtaking manoeuvre to fill that spot, and give you a look / hand gestures for being too slow (and then they’ll drive at exactly the same speed just in front of you and seemingly attached to the bumper of the car in front). Italians don’t realise that the “slow” lane is for driving in when you’re not overtaking. I on the other hand will always drive in that lane unless overtaking. And not wanting to undertake, if I want to overtake one of the Middle Lane Drivers, I’ll then have to go across two lanes to overtake in the fast lane before going back across two lanes to where they were supposed to be driving in the first place. In Italy – they don’t get the hint. In France, not only do the majority all drive in the correct lane to start with but if you do the above “training manoeuvre” with them then they’ll soon get the hint and move to the slow lane. I wonder why the driving is so different in Italy to other places?!

House Progress?!

The house business in Italy is coming along really quickly! I’ve transferred my deposit to the owner and signed the first contract (Compromesso).  There’s no going back now (or not without a significant cost). Completion is set for 30th July. The whole thing just feels a bit odd though – the house plans still do not represent the house we’re buying. At the moment we’re still buying the  neighbour’s property according to these plans and there is still a rustic building represented which doesn’t exist. My solicitor ensures me that because of what she thinks is a comforting line in the contract: “the owner will ensure the plans represent the property when it comes to the final contract”, all is ok. So whether I’ll get a rustic building or whether the plans will be updated, and whether I’ll be getting the neighbours property or not – who knows?!

In response to my question “erm, the plans here show that the cantina is split into 3 completely separate bits – not that it’s open plan like it actually is – can we change that?” was met with “if you want, we can get the owner to stack some breeze blocks in these doorways”. Well yes, that’s EXACTLY what I was after. Loosely placed breeze blocks. Much better than up-to-date and accurate plans.  The whole process at the moment seems odd – and I’m half expecting the owner to run off with my money. Cross your fingers please everyone!

Right, that’s it for today. Hope you’re all having good weeks.

x

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Travels up north, houses to buy and pretty sunsets…

Ciao a tutti!

Well……. have I got a lot to update on! I’ll try and be quick:

Falconara

Well, we’ve been living in Falconara for a while and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. I like it. I think Falconara might have some of the best sunsets of all time and it’s lovely walking along the beach in the evening. It is also the home of a small stretch of beach I’ve called “Seaglass Heaven” (I’m not being any more specific lest someone catches wind of it and takes all my seaglass!). The more I discuss Falconara with the people that dislike it, the more I decide that their rationale is not actually rational!

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Falconara beach – best sunset of all time?

Bustling festival in Jesi…

A couple of Saturday’s ago, we went to a bustling little festival in Jesi. I should have asked more questions about what the festival was in aid of but most people there didn’t seem to know either. There were people dressed up in religious outfits, parading up and down the streets but the best bit were the open tavernas which are basically private cellars, only open for a couple of days a year serving food and wine. Great atmosphere!

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Random guitar playing guy in the taverna!

Market in Montemarciano

I’ve discovered a new website (for me at least – I think it’s an old website!) www.marcheinfesta.it which promotes upcoming events up in the area. This, together with some festival posters dotted around, alerted us to a local town having a Festival of Spring. Montemarciano is only a 15 minute drive away (30 minutes for me who has problems understanding the cryptic directions of ‘Tom’ the Satellite Navigation Fool!) and was a pretty little town to wander around. The festival was characterised by loads of market stalls selling clothing (hmm, very spring like!).

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I suppose there wasn’t a great deal to Montemarciano but it did have a cool church and it was nice to wander around

House purchasing in Italy…

The next bit of exciting news is that I *may* have found a house to buy here in Italy. There, now I’ve jinxed it! The good bits first:  It’s advertised as a 3 bed house (potentially more) and has got fabulous views.  It also has a great cantina (cellar) which I think could be turned into a living space, a private little terrace on the roof and a cute little garden. Bad things: It’s somewhat in the middle of nowhere, the kitchen is decidedly small, and it’s not ACTUALLY a 3 bed house at the moment as the “upstairs” rooms can’t officially be classed as bedrooms and THERE’S NO BATH! Still, it’s at a very good price indeed so I’m planning to put an offer on it and we’ll see what happens. If you could all have your fingers crossed I would appreciate it! It’s set right next to the Sibilini mountains, it’s near Sarnano and the ski pistes in the winter so that’ll be a complete change from where I am now. Scary – but quite exciting! I’d love to have a home that I can finally do stuff to make it actually feel like home.

Touristy San Marino

I’ve finally ticked off something I’ve been meaning to do since I got here over a year ago – visit San Marino! It kick-started my birthday weekend away. San Marino is about an hour and a half  further north than Falconara, still in Le Marche. It had a very quaint historical centre spanning across three towers/castle type set-ups, while the outskirts basically consisted of a winding road with weird road markings, set between car showrooms. It had some amazing views and it was nice to wander around the shops. However, the shops were very touristy and sold exactly the same stuff – Leather goods (boooooo – why can’t people see that genuine leather is a bad thing?! Poor cows…), general tourist tat and rather curiously, guns, knives and swords!

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Quite a good view!

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Rare tourist free castle glimpse…

Handy gun shop

Handy gun shop. I’ve also been able to expand my samurai sword collection.

Surprisingly Alright Rimini

Rimini is a beach town. It’s alright – I’m not really that fussed by beach towns often so I’m surprised I quite like it. They often seem to have a lack of oomph about them. But Rimini has quite a nice historical town centre complete with castles and ruins but it’s quite young and lively too. The beach front has got long, sandy, wide beaches (alas, with back to back sunloungers and umbrellas). The drinks are expensive and even worse, seaglass and driftwood is non-existent! However you can walk into the sea a little way and stand on a sand ridge so that goes part way to make up for the lack of seaglass.

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Moody beach scene. It was misleadingly stormy looking – it was actually very warm and sunny! What do you reckon this wooden construction is?!

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Lifeguard house.  Ah-ha! Maybe the wooden construction in the last picture is the bottom of a lifeguard house?! All becomes clear….

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Arch leading to the town centre

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Nice large piazza numero uno

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Nice large piazza numero due

Pretty San Leo

San Leo is one of my favourite places. It’s a cute little hill-top town with a big fort. It’s nice to just wander around the town but it’s probably worth the 8 Euros to go into the fort too. The fort has some amazing views and there’s a torture room which was amusing at first (until you think that they actually used this stuff)…

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Taken from the base of the fort

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Sleepy main piazza in San Leo

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Majestic looking fort growing out of the mountainous outcrop

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I like this chair a lot. Very accommodating looking.

The photo below is of Cagliostro. He was kept prisoner at the fort…

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Was EVERYONE horrible looking a few hundred years ago? I mean, I understand that fashions change – but faces? Why do all portraits of that era show bulbous eyed, no-necked, flabby mouthed people? Did they have an influx of evil portrait painters or did people actually look like that? Who would have ever let this portrait see the light of day?! I can only imagine his confident smirk here showed him before he viewed the portrait. I suspect the ‘after’ portrait would have been of a depressed alcoholic.

School – the end is nigh…

The end is nigh! I’ve got another two weeks. The grand finale is a show with the Infants. Following on from the successful hit of the Christmas show with them in December, I’ve been allocated a 20 minute slot for an all singing and dancing English extravaganza. It’s going to be a disaster. The first song is a particularly monotonous guitar piece called “hello, how are you?” created by my good self and which the children have been screeching “singing” for the last year. Can they remember what it means? Despite going through it every single week? No….. no they can’t! They can’t even remember the words. They are only 4 years old but still, that’s poor isn’t it? I blame the teacher. Ahem.

Twittering

In other exciting news – I’ve decided to try and make a go of Twitter. I still can’t understand it but I suppose it satisfies my egotistical craving to constantly update people on what I’m doing all the time. Please feel free to follow me @suzzec.

What’s a bit odd?

Less what’s a bit odd and more what’s a bit creepy… here’s some graffiti in Falconara that I quite like.

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Creepy.. creepy… creepy!

And a road sign in San Leo…

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Sign indicating the potential dangers to your lorry if you take this road…

Right, that’s about that then. Have good weeks all 🙂

x

 

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