Tuesday, 29 January 2013

SABINA TRAVELOGUE PART 16 - April 5 - Dreaming of Real Estate?

This could be a view you wake up to....
We made pasta last night, a simple red sauce with some sausage... We drank a nice bottle of red wine and got an early night's sleep... Today we spent a quiet day walking around Casperia and having some peeks inside some houses... 

On one of our trips out of Casperia by bus and train we had a bit of a wait for our train connection. Walking around the little village of Poggio Mirteto Scalo, we noticed a real estate office beside the little frutteria across the street from the station... and Candace went in to check it out. 

View of the real estate agency from Google Street View
When she emerged from the office of the Agenzia Immobiliare Sabina, it was with an appointment to meet with one of their representatives. Today was the day for that appointment.

From our very first visit to the Sabina, of course we started to dream about having a place here. How could you not? It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, a piece or real, honest, rustic, unspoiled Italy, as yet untrammelled by tourist hoards, and I hope it stays that way... Il Sogno, the Phillips' house here in Casperia, is aptly named...The Dream... and what a happy dream. You can feel their love for the Sabina and this amazing hilltown in its walls... Another thing you can feel is their appreciation and respect for "place" in the way they have restored their house...  


On our first visit here three years ago we made an appointment with Giancarlo, an agent for another real estate firm called Tecnocasa and were shown a number of amazing houses, some that were ready to move in to, and some that were ruins in need of major restoration. Ironically, this house (below) that we visited three years ago, which we called Il Nido because of the occupied pidgeon nest we found behind one of the storm shutters, has since been bought and is being restored by a woman from Canada. It was a huge, amazing property with some traces of frescoes inside. It needed a lot of money and tender loving care... and I have the feeling it has got all that right now    

Il Nido was truly amazing, but the property that caught Richard's and my fancy was a smaller, more modest house higher up the hill on Vicolo Serpenti. 

It was affordable, had a marvelous view, it was ready to move in, and most importantly, it had a beautiful orange guardian cat...

Timing and finances, of course, are everything... Though we did a lot of research and soul searching when we got back home to Canada, owning property in the Sabina had to and still has to remain a dream... but who knows?  

There are all sorts of properties for sale in the Sabina, and as far as I know, all across Italy these days... The downturn in the economy has made it hard for people to hold on to farms and country homes that have been in the family for generations. 

There is something so very sad about seeing so many Vendesi (For Sale) and Affittasi (For Rent) signs in Casperia, and in the other towns we visited. You see them on the doors of farm houses, palazzi, apartments, even little ruined cantinas, everywhere you go.

Richard inspects a sign on a house on Vicolo Serpenti
 So there is something exciting and at the same time a little bit melancholy about looking at houses here. One person's opportunity to realise their dream sometimes means that another person or family has lost theirs... I suppose that is the way of the world but...

The realtor who came to show us around, Rosanna, is a very interesting lady. She lives in Casperia now, but she has spent a lot of time outside of Italy and is fluent in English and French... as well as Italian. She took us in to see a number of properties, including this one which was once the town Locanda or Inn. 

Note the large dining room for the guests.

The windows at the end of the dining room overlook Piazza Umberto 1 and Friends Caffe. It made me wonder about the volume of our volubility as we enjoyed our Negronis and our stringozzi in the evenings in the restaurant down below... One thing I love about Casperia is the peace and quiet of the place... Have I been one of those noisy, abrasive foreign tourists? I hope not.

This is the view from the front door of the old Locanda. It overlooks the winding basalt cobbled road that leads up into the town from the Porta Romana by Friends Caffe and up to the piazza where the Comune Office is.

Richard loved the big old camino or fireplace in the old inn.

We visited quite a few houses, including a stunning palazzo and a number of smaller properties

Some of these were thoroughly renovated and some of them beautifully restored, or in need of restoration.

It was a rare priviledge to be able to see inside not only the houses of local Italians, but also some of the vacation houses owned by people from outside the country. 

This house also had a guardian cat... Maybe the cats are wanting us to make a decision...

Our tour of those houses on the market with Rosanna left us with lots to think about... The dream is certainly still there... We will continue to look into places to buy or perhaps even rent in the Sabina... and one day, when the stars are all properly aligned and the finances are there, who knows??? Wish us luck!

We said our goodbyes to Rosanna and made our way up the 200 or so stairs to Il Sogno.  

Stairs in Casperia courtesy of vagabondo.net

There was a huge thunder shower with hail in the afternoon. The narrow streets turned suddenly into rivers. I am glad we were  inside when that happened. Candace and Richard played cribbage in the evening. The game got very heated and I heard some very interesting pseudo-Italian profanities being traded. "Mangi le mie scale!" "Eat my stairs"???

Tonight thunder and lightning and rain dominates the skies around Casperia!

Monte Soratte courtesy of Alessandra Finiti
For those of you interested in looking into real estate in the Sabina, you will find a number of links to real estate agencies that operate in the area on the right hand side of the page of my blog. You can also go on youtube and do a search with the words "immobiliare" and "Casperia" or "Rieti" to get some inside views of some of the real estate that is available in the area. If you liked one of the hill towns featured earlier in the blog, just search with the name of the town and the word "immobiliare" on Youtube or Google.

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