New Year. Big Changes
Two years ago, we made an offer on and bought a beautiful farmhouse built 200 years ago in the little village of Sant’ Andrea. Sitting on the terrace on our first viewing of the house in the balmy September sun, we immediately knew that this was the place. A couple of months later, January 2017, we were celebrating sipping Frizzante in the local village hotel having just signed the papers. Snow was falling outside and the weather was very different from that September day, but the magic of the area hadn’t disappeared. This very night we were going to be sleeping in our own home in Italy and we were so excited!
Our hunt for the house had taken about 18 months. Initially we were looking more towards the Sibillini Mountain range a little further south. During 2016 there had been several devastating earthquakes in that region and in our house hunting here we witnessed many people’s lives that had been badly affected by these. Some lanes were closed with old barns having fallen into the road after they had collapsed, and old homes in little mountain hamlets displayed big cracks in their supporting walls, as well as a heavy silence that was present as we walked through the hilly streets. There was little else talked about when we ate in local restaurants, and we realised with a heavy heart that we wouldn’t ever really feel safe here. Despite the stunning beauty of this area, we decided to look further afield and headed north towards Ancona, not really knowing what we would find. Driving on a warm Sunday morning we headed towards the village of Mondavio where we were to meet the estate agent who would show us No. 5 Contrada Ronchi, Sant’ Andrea…. and the rest is history.
Fast forward to January 2017 and we were sitting in the local Commune Building in Jesi with all of the necessary people needed to make our house purchase legal (our interpreter, the vendors, two witnesses, and the notaio). It was freezing outside and our soon to be house was tucked up in snow. Sitting at the table I couldn’t help feeling empathy for the old owners of the house. For over 10 years they had many wonderful times together there watching their family grow. A lovely German couple who showed us nothing but kindness and really made the whole process of purchasing in Italy easy. Despite warnings and reading of scary articles about the bureaucracy and problems associated with buying in Italy, we experienced none of this! The whole process took just under three months and went really smoothly…. until that is, we literally felt the earth move just as we were about to sign the papers….! During the two hours that we were in the office of the solicitor we felt eight earthquakes!! Small aftershocks apparently, but nevertheless the ground suddenly felt like the sea and we were in a boat not a five storey building! As we watched the huge chandelier in the office swing we decided to take this as a good omen… a sign that we were embarking on an adventure and this was being recognised from up above! Amazingly, we were not put off the area by this experience and as we headed on our drive an hour further north to Sant Andrea from Jesi, we marvelled at the beauty of the hills, mountains, sea, olive groves and vineyards all topped with sparkling snow reflecting the still blue skies and sunshine, dreaming of what was to come.
So, sitting in the local hotel sipping Frizzante my husband sent the following message to our friends:
‘Well what an experience! There we all were (sellers, buyers, notary, translator, witnesses) in a lovely posh heated office just outside Jesi town centre, when suddenly the silence was palpable followed shortly afterwards by whisperings in Italian which could be excused for translating as s**t should we be getting out of here. To experience eight earthquakes whilst sat down, I can only compare with the time I got legless in France, having shown a couple of local firemen how to drink shorts! (lots of wobbling and an incomprehension as to why things aren’t behaving normally! ) I now know what they mean by an earthquake-proof building ‘swaying’ as opposed to a non-earthquake-proof building ‘shaking’. Strangely enough though not scary, we were more bemused as to why nobody seemed to be contemplating running for cover. Then again I’m not sure what ‘cover ‘ you would find if you did run! Anyway, after a few more quakes and a slight delay caused by RBS finding it difficult to transfer funds to Nat West (generally considered to be the same bank) without a lot of fuss, we became the proud new owners of Contrada Ronchi 5. Nicky’s determination to stay ‘dry’ for the whole of January was now under serious threat and as soon as we had the keys in hand it was off to the nearest bar to order a bottle of their finest Frizzante. Well, actually it was the house wine but very welcome and much appreciated. Salute!’