Who would have thought that, just three years into my idyllic new life in Italy, I would already be selling up and moving house!
Having transported myself lock, stock and barrel from the west of Ireland in 2013, to my perfect apartment in the Euganean Hills south of Padova in the Veneto, the last thing I expected was to be moving on so soon.
When I arrived in Italy, I had closed down my interior design consultancy in Galway and moved here to write full time. I had been on my own for too many years, my priority having been to raise my children and run my business as profitably as possible. When 2012 dawned, I decided to sell my lovely home on Galway Bay, close my business and move to warmer climes to begin a brand new life. My children were all reared and managing perfectly well without me, so with no ties, I was ready for a new beginning. Alone.
I found my new apartment in the Veneto through Italy Magazine. I had spent a great deal of time on line at night looking at countless properties. During visits to Italy I kept searching for the perfect home and finally, there is was. Within a week I had flown to Venice, seen the apartment and made my offer, which – after some minor haggling – was accepted. I was over the moon.
Living alone and loving the countryside, I wanted a home that was not isolated yet in a picturesque location. I felt that if I lived in a city apartment – not knowing anybody – I would quickly become anonymous and isolated. On the other hand, had I bought a home in a quiet rural area, I could have faced the same problem. I did not want to be without social contact and wanted to get to know my neighbours and become absorbed into Italian life. My apartment was the perfect place for all of those things, being in a small community with an outside terrace from which I could see – and be seen by – my neighbours and passers-by, able to exchange greetings with all and sundry.
My home is actually a large modern apartment/duplex on two floors. I have the main ground floor and downstairs, on the lower ground floor, there is a big sunny guest room with its own en suite shower room and a small private terrace. Above me lives a young Italian couple, who have a completely separate entrance further up the road.
This is a three-house development with two apartments/duplexes in each house. There is enough space around them not to feel that they are too close. All have independent entrances and gardens in a rural setting; the little hamlet of Faedo with a population of less than 400 people. It is truly unusual to find any new property here in the Euganean Hills which is a national park with huge restrictions on development. Three of the duplexes are occupied by Italians, two are occupied by very nice British couples who spend three or four months of the year here and the sixth is occupied by me. In fact, all the neighbours are very kind and friendly.
The apartment/duplex is about 130 sq. metres, so it’s quite spacious. It comprises a very large living room with an oak-beamed ceiling. This room combines a sitting, dining area and kitchen. The seating area contains a big open fireplace, where I burn logs during the winter months making the apartment extremely cosy.
Most of the lovely wooden windows have mosquito netting installed and all have green outer shutters. There is a good size terrace in front of the sitting room looking south down the valley. Beautiful for having lunch or a sundowner. I have planted extensively over the past three summers and there are lots of roses and a hedge of jasmine. The garden is quite a decent size, divided into two separate strips where there is grass and lots of indigenous trees – including two bountiful plum trees.
There are three bedrooms, including the guest bedroom downstairs. The master bedroom faces both south and west with two windows. It’s a gorgeously bright room. One of the bedrooms is used as a study. There is a dressing room and a storeroom and a large square hall, which could also be made into a study if the third bedroom were required. The master shower room is large. The entire apartment is light and airy with all front windows facing south down the valley with lovely views.
There is air-conditioning and gas fired central heating.
All around the house are walking and cycling trails among the vineyards, forests and olive groves. There are many restaurants and agriturismi close by with fabulous food and wine. It is truly a foodie part of the world and amazingly inexpensive to eat out locally. You can get a full dinner with four courses and wine for about €30 per head in most restaurants.
A ten minute drive takes you to the railway station in Monselice where you can get a direct train to Padova (20 minutes) or Venice (45 minutes) about every half an hour. There are several supermarkets within 15 minutes’ drive, in the very pretty, historical town of Este where there is a huge Saturday market in the piazza. There is a brand new and highly efficient hospital between Este and Monselice – about 20 minutes’ drive away. The beautiful little town of Arqua Petrarca is only 10 minutes away, along with many, many beautiful villas and gardens.
I was perfectly content with my life in the Euganean Hills. I finished writing my interior design handbook and handed it over to the publishers. I started to do research for a romantic novel set in Venice. I began blogging. It was an interesting time; meeting my Italian neighbours for lunch and aperitivi, finding out where to buy good wine and olive oil and learning my way around the Veneto in my brand new Fiat 500.
After eight months of settling in, I decided to fulfil a long-term ambition: to visit all the old Palladian villas dotted around the Veneto. I have always been a great fan of the architect Palladio and I decided to visit Villa Poiana where I met a widower of similar vintage. Like me, he is a travel writer and blogger, with identical interests. My whole life changed there and then and we have been together ever since. Now we have purchased a new home in Puglia, just outside Ostuni, and are heading south to make a new life there. It’s all very exciting and I am extremely happy and content.
Read full details of the Euganean Hills HERE.
A happy postscript to the story is the fact that Tom and I got married last week here in the Euganean Hills. My new husband is to be found on www.thepalladiantraveler.com .
Euganean Hills, Veneto, Italy
PS. 8th August, 2016 I exchanged contracts with a lovely and adventurous Italian/American lady who has agreed to purchase my home. I am sure she will pick up the baton and carry on with the happy and healthy lifestyle I have discovered here in the Euganean Hills. Good luck Annette! 🙂