About ten years ago I came upon an opportunity to buy a small piece of property in the beautiful farming community of Bagnoregio, Italy. Having vacationed in this funny little town for several years, I’d made many friends of the locals and word of mouth is a powerful tool in small Italian towns. This can be a good thing and maybe not so good, at times. At any rate, I ended up with more than just a property. I ended up with an incredible tale that is not yet finished.
It will take much too long to tell the entire story here, so it will be told in increments, maybe 3, maybe 4, depending on just how far I get with this small amount of blogging space. It starts with my friend Carlo, a German immigrant who settled in the farm valley several decades earlier, becoming a local character with friends and business associates all over the regions of Lazio and Umbria. He’s the one that invited me to think about buying a property in Bagnoregio, as I was spending so much of my time there. He actually took me to see several properties, most needing much renovation. I wasn’t convinced I could afford to buy anything but he insisted there was something available that would suit me. And indeed, Carlo heard about two acres on a hill that an old farmer wanted to sell. So, we went to see it and after climbing up the driveway and coming to the top where the little building (an old stone “barn”) stood, taking in the captivating view which was breathtaking, I knew I wanted this place for my own.
There was no electricity or water, just a hand dug well, 50 olive trees and a sickly little vineyard. But I could see the entire farm valley and the Umbrian mountains, not to mention Civita Bagnoregio, the “dying” city, which sat high above it all. Carlo was sure that my closest neighbor who’s property backed up to this one would be happy to share utility lines for a small fee.
The farmer, an ancient looking man who came twice daily to the land to care for the animals he raised, rabbits, goats and chickens, was tired and probably saw an easy way out of the daily trips in his little three wheeled truck that putted up and down the hill at 10 miles an hours.
The timing couldn’t have been better as the Italians were still using the lire and he asked just $12,000 for the property, plus a few costs for fees, etc. There are two “contracts” for selling or buying property in Italy, the first being the deposit which is determined by the two people in negotiations. The second contract is for the remaining balance and is executed anywhere from six to 12 months later.
End of first segment: You won’t want to miss the subsequent chapters! Especially the surprise ending!