Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Italian Project

Yes, we did buy a house in Italy. No, we are not leaving Morocco. But we do hope to be able to divide our time and work between our homes in Marrakech, Arpino (Rome) and Stockholm in the future.

Arpino, located in Lazio south of Rome

Italians do it better, they are simply brilliant when it comes to food, wine and enjoying a relaxed lifestyle. We have always loved Italy and spent a lot of time travelling around in this beautiful country and after Morocco this is probably our favorite country. Italy is also very conveniently located between our homes in Sweden and Morocco. So now that we master the life in Marrakech (can you really ever do that?) it feels natural to start looking at properties in Italy. There is Tuscany (beautiful but very touristic), Lake Garda and Lake Como (gorgeous but very expensive), Venice (not so practical) and many stunning small towns all over the country. We wanted to be close to Rome for logistical reasons so we draw a one-hour drive circle around Rome and begun house hunting. 

The main square in Arpino, perfect for that morning espresso

We were longing to find a genuine town with a lot of history, few tourists, nice restaurants, beautiful settings and fresh air. We found Arpino, an amazing medival town with a population of 7000 located a one hour drive from Rome as well as Naples and a few hours on the express train to Florence and Venice. We instantly fell in love with this pretty town located on a mountain top with miles and miles of free views of the rolling hills, olive groves and mountains. We could totally picture us living here on the Italian country side but still close enough to Rome to have a shopping lunch there (or a pizza in Naples).

Medival Arpino is located on a mountain side with stunning views

Arpino is full of history and ancient ruins from pre-Roman times. There are several very good restaurants, friendly people, 52 churches and many Romans are starting to buy weekend homes here. Should therefore be a good investment as well since the Italian economy and real estate market is now picking up. 

History is present everywhere in Arpino

View over part of Arpino

There are many charming piazzas where you can enjoy a coffee or glass of wine

The 2500-year-old wall and gate is located above Arpino

Arpino at night

Casa Colle
After some house hunting in the region, both in Arpino and neighbouring towns, we could conclude that Arpino was by far the most charming little town and there we found Casa Colle. Casa Colle means "the house on the hill" and is an old stone town house from the early 18th centuary located in the highest part of Arpino with stunning views over the valleys. We fell in love at once with this charming little house in desperate need of someone to save it.

Casa Colle, before restaurations started.

So for easter we came back to Arpino to meet with real estate agents, lawyers and builders. And on Easter Saturday we signed the contract for the house and with the builder who will restore Casa Colle to it's former glory and carefully restore all ancient stone walls and add a modern inside design. It will be a six month restauration project where we aim to restore as much as possible of the original parts and make sure that Casa Colle will stand for the next 300 years as well. 

Renovations have started, in six months the house will hopefully be fully renovated and 2 terraces added (one on the top floor and one outside the entrance)

This is Claudio, our builder and architect

Floor plans for Casa Colle

Here we are enjoying Easter lunch with our Italian team (from left): Claudio (our builder), Alison (real estate agent), Valentina (building engineer) and Kathryn (daughter of real estate agent)

Renovations have begun

Signing the contract for Casa Colle!

Morocco magic and Italian pasta - this will be a brilliant combination!

We really look forward to spending time in our homes in Marrakech, Arpino/Rome and Stockholm in the future. We are not leaving Morocco, just adding an Italian home to the collection. 

Our current collection of houses: a riad in Marrakech, a courtyard house in Stockholm city, a country cottage on an island in the Stockholm archipelago and a townhouse in Italy

We will keep you updated on the renovations of Casa Colle here on our blog!

Viva Italia!