Spring is unusually late this year but I am writing this sitting in the sunshine with a coffee, looking at the castle in Nardò and life is good! With the advent of Spring the property market is speeding up, estate … Continue reading →
Following on from last weeks article, in which I pointed out that properties in town, with outside space will cost less to buy and restore than countryside properties, this piece is to give an idea of what you can buy, … Continue reading →
It is getting to the time of year where I get inundated with emails from people wanting advice about buying in Puglia. I would say that 3 out of 5 do not have a realistic budget – the kind of … Continue reading →
What If you haven’t already, do read this, to give you some background, and evidence, if you needed it, that making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear is something of a speciality of mine! Not that Villa Carezza … Continue reading →
It seems like ages since I have posted anything – in fact it is, but it has been insanely busy… I coped with the first lockdown in April 2020; 4 months with no work, a large project cancelled and zero … Continue reading →
Here in Nardò it seems almost as if the lockdown never happened – yes, restaurant tables are more widely spaced and at least some people wear masks in shops, but summer is in full swing and there are visitors everywhere. Certainly the Covid statistics in Puglia remain good, usually no new cases a day, 3 at the most.
I have done one property search trip, where we saw some very interesting properties which I will write about later this week, but have mainly been kept extremely busy lining up properties for people coming to view in August and September and renting out houses for clients who were unable to travel themselves. Guests have been largely Italian – the holiday rental market has gone somewhat crazy post lockdown and all the properties I am looking after are filling up fast.. Continue reading →
Lockdown has now been over for three weeks, Covid cases in Puglia are down to maximum 1 or 2 new cases a day, usually none, and estate agents are back to work. I am getting lots of enquiries from people … Continue reading →
One of the things I miss most about living in the provincia di Bari – is the focaccia Barese, fatto come si deve (made how you are supposed to do it). In Monopoli it is a part of life, made … Continue reading →
Normally at this time of year I would be rushing around, finding properties for people and supervising work on houses bought earlier in the year.. Instead, almost 7 weeks into lockdown, the pace of life is somewhat slower and I … Continue reading →
I first came to Puglia, to Monopoli in fact, at the invitation of my mother, Diane Seed, who had taken a group to a five star hotel there for a ‘culinary adventure’. At the time I was organising specialist holidays in the UK for families. Getting talking to the owners, they suggested I organised some trips there. So I did – coming back a further three times and, each time, falling more in love with Puglia.
On my third trip, I went into Monopoli with my mother who was thinking of renting an apartment there, to use as an occasional escape from Rome. We were outside an estate agents, looking in the window, when a man approached us and asked if we were looking for an apartment to rent. We went with him, into the centro storico where he showed us an apartment; the top floor of a house with medieval origins. My mother was not impressed – too many stairs, small kitchen, no bathtub. I stood on the roof terrace looking at the view (cathedral, church spire, church spire, sea) and fell deeper still in love.
I wanted that apartment so much it hurt but, despite the fact that the rent seemed impossibly low by London standards, I couldn’t justify it. Why on earth would I need a, small, apartment in Puglia? The following night I had a dream where someone sat me down and told me I was going to die much earlier than I imagined. It was very vivid and waking up, still half asleep, I believed it absolutely. The first thing I did was work out how old my three children would be when it was supposed to happen, my second thought was ‘right, I am having that apartment’. It felt right so I did it.
During this period I had split up with my husband and was finding alternate custody of the children very difficult. There were super cheap flights to Puglia at the time so, in my child free weeks, I would hop on a plane and go to my apartment… exploring Puglia and extending the number of holidays I organised for other people. A few months later, when things back in London were getting increasingly difficult, my downstairs neighbours in Puglia told me they were moving out.
It was an absolute impulse – I told the owner that I wanted to rent the ground floor as well, packed up everything in England and moved over to Puglia with my two younger children. At the time I still didn’t really know anyone there so it was a bit scary, but I did it.
Across a narrow street from me there was an elderly lady who, unable to get about much any longer, sat all day in her doorway framed by the open top shutters of her door, above which there was an icon of the Madonna, surrounded by light bulbs. She befriended us, and her acceptance made it easier moving into, what was then, a fairly closed community.
Provider of much local knowledge, recipes and herbal remedies (as well as arcane rituals involving bowls of water and oil to cure all that ailed you) she told me repeatedly that I had come to the right place and the Madonna had sent me to Monopoli. A friend at the time commented rather waspishly that he was not sure what Monopoli had done to deserve this…
It hasn’t always been easy and, in my first year, I was taken royally to the cleaners and lost a lot of money, one of the reasons why I am very committed to making sure that other ‘foreigners’ who want to buy or do up properties here are looked after properly, as well as being guided through the endless red tape and illogical rules which make up the Italian system.
I still think occasionally of the old lady, Nina, and it makes me smile. While it is never flattering to be compared to a plague of locusts, or similar it did feel, and still does, like I came to the right place….