Hello I’m Suzanne I am English and a housewife. I moved to Italy from England in 2003 to start a new life, after working for the NHS for 13 years, I was fed up with the high rents and not being able to get a mortgage. I wanted to purchase an house outright and then only need to work part time, but this was just not possible for me in the UK. But the house prices in Italy opened up a new horizon. I came alone with just my worldly goods in the back of a van and my two guinea pigs. I had only been to Italy once before on a long weekend, house hunting. Fortunately on that first visit I found a house I liked and put in a offer, at the same time I ended up purchasing the house next door too, a bit over my budget but hey I was going to live in a remote mountain village in Italy. (At the time I was looking at the houses two women walked slowly past, both with hoes over their shoulders, returning home after working in their vegetable plots – what an idyll!).

Both houses were in a shocking state of repair and needed a lot of work but I was seduced by the scenery and the atmosphere and went for it. I was taking a huge gamble, I did not speak Italian, knew nothing of the legal process and did not get a survey on either house, the recklessness of cash purchasing.
Had I thought too deeply about what I was doing I probably would not have done it and still be in the UK.

I was granted a 2 year sabbatical from work which was a safety net and gave me the confidence to carry on with my plan of doing up the small house and then letting this as a holiday home in order to finance the work on my home.

Luckily all went well and after finding the houses in April, I had moved in by June.

Two very tatty houses.

The locals, all 23 of them, were wonderful (when I arrived the youngest was in their late 50s and the oldest in their early 90s), took me under their wings and made it quite clear that I needed to buy a wood stove, this was the furthest thing from my mind as the weather was beautiful, however they prevailed and within a few weeks of moving in, on the shopping trip to buy my all important wood stove I met Pietro, my husband. Pietro had first seen me at another shop; he was going in as I was coming out. He had then somehow got to the next shop before me, where I saw him standing at the counter, I noticed him this time as he was a bit of a state. Tall, very baggy shorts, t-shirt which was on the small side – riding up his back, lace up boots half way to his knees and a completely bald head. I think I noticed him as he did not look like the average local. I went to the back of the store to look at the wood stoves and was just about managing to get across to the shop owner what I wanted, when he said “un momento”, disappeared and came back with Pietro. Pietro’s first words to me were “Hello Darling”, it was not what he said which floored me but the accent, I was expecting an Italian accent but what came out was distinctly North London!
Pietro had move to Italy from the UK in 1996 as he too was fed-up with his life there. His parents were Italian immigrants who returned to Italy in their retirement and he later came to Italy to join them. He worked for his brother-in-law in his building firm on a self-employed basis until 2005. After 2005 he went fully alone finding his own work and since then he has not stopped!

Casa Terracotta, with a new top step and makeshift hand rail.

We got married two years after meeting; our honeymoon was spent re-roofing both houses, Pietro doing the technical stuff and me labouring.
After the roofs were completed we started work on the inside of Casa Terracotta in Pietro’s spare time at the weekends. Everything needed to be done and the whole house was gutted, floors were removed, the staircase redesigned and relocated, partition walls put up, tiling, painting, plumbing, electrics the lot!
Casa Terracotta is now finished and I am proud to show it off as a testament to Pietro’s high standard of work.

Next round our own home …….