HomeInternationalHe bought a cheap house in Italy. This is what happened next

He bought a cheap house in Italy. This is what happened next

(CNN) — Italy’s cheap houses bonanza continues to lure tons of of patrons, regardless of the pandemic. But what occurs as soon as somebody takes the plunge and invests their (small) chunk of change in a crumbling nook of a distant city?

For Roy Patrick, a 67-year-old British automotive and bike fanatic who bought an old style house in the northern mountain village of Carrega Ligure for about $16,500, it has been an journey — not with out mishaps akin to a falling chimney and a jammed door — and likewise a pleasure.

Patrick, from Oxford, bought the property after discovering himself in the village, in the mountains on the border of Italy’s Piedmont and Ligure areas, virtually accidentally.

He arrived after disembarking from a post-divorce Mediterranean cruise in the port of Genoa, the place he met individuals who advised him concerning the wonders of the village. He determined to go to and take a look and was fascinated by the place.

After touring a number of outdated properties he fell in love with the Nineteen Thirties faculty constructing and bought it in 2017.

“The other houses were nice but had nothing special, they could have been in any little Italian village tucked away in alleys,” says Patrick. “But this one was particular, the view is unique: the way the sun goes down over the mountains when it sets, you’d say ‘wow.’ It’s my personal Arcadia, my Nirvana, therapeutic place.”

The property, which was offloaded by the native city corridor as a part of an initiative to spice up the populations of communities in decline (much like many being operated throughout Italy), is positioned in the quiet neighborhood of Connio, the place simply 12 individuals dwell.

Since the acquisition, he is been visiting each two weeks — even in the course of the pandemic. He does enterprise in Italy shopping for and reselling outdated three-wheeled automobiles. He says he is discovered a new household in the city and a bucolic haven for detoxing and unplugging amid contemporary air.

Carrega, he provides, has many charms.

“Top of the list is the friendliness of the local people, followed by the stunning views I get as I gaze out of the windows looking across the valley. Mine is the best panorama in the village.

“Also, I’m extraordinarily fortunate to have, a few brief meters away, a fountain which is fed by the invigorating cool water coming down from the mountain peaks.”

Chimney collapse

Uk purchaser Carrega-Patrick's restyled house c Roy Patrick

Patrick Roy’s house cost $16,000 and needed minimal renovations.

Courtesy Roy Patrick

Patrick says his initial encounter with his new home was less than promising.

He recalls that the mayor had to climb up a ladder to enter a window in order to open the building up. It had been shut for decades and the door was jammed, with the keys nowhere to be found.

A later structural disaster turned into a positive story. When one Christmas Eve an unstable chimney collapsed due to heavy snow, one of Patrick’s neighbors volunteered to climb onto his roof to make it safe. Patrick says he was astonished when the man refused to be paid.

People are welcoming, he says, they want to help newcomers and don’t want anything in return. At the most, a glass of heady red wine to sip together.

Patrick says he’s made plenty of friends in the village and enjoys his Italian dinners with them.

During the minimal renovations needed to make the old school habitable, Patrick says he’s unearthed a treasure trove of historical finds.

In the attic, he discovered relics from the building’s former life: dusty piles of old text books, inkwells, glass bottles, pupil registers and other quirky items harking to the bygone days when 20 pupils were taught in what is now Patrick’s living room.

On the doorstep there’s a mosaic with Roman numerals indicating the year the school was built. Patrick has decided to keep the original tile floors and wood-covered walls.

Carrega, where many people are selling their empty family homes for as low as $12,000, also feels frozen in time in many ways.

Quiet life

Uk purchaser Carrega-road to the house c Comune. Carrega

The sleepy village is miles from the nearest shops, bars or restaurants.

Courtesy Comune Carrega

Located in the Apennine mountains, it’s scattered across 15 inhabited districts and two ghost hamlets. In one neighborhood there are just two residents. People wave at each other and chat from their window balconies.

While Carrega has been offloading cheap properties for a few years, officials are still occasionally putting up abandoned buildings for auction. A few crumbling houses were recently sold for between $6,000 and $7,000. Another lot of two properties has just been placed on the market.

Patrick has some advice for those tempted by the thought of buying a house up here: don’t expect any social buzz and be prepared for bumpy, tricky roads.

There’s absolutely nothing, he says, just great views, silence, pure air and pristine surroundings. No bars, supermarkets, shops or restaurants. A vehicle is essential to move around.

However, Carrega does spring to life in the summer, when day-trippers and vacationers arrive to relax.

“There’s this one evening when all of the younger individuals get collectively and throw a big rave get together with loud music until the next morning,” says Patrick. “Otherwise it is simply chirping birds and utter silence. I really feel responsible if I’m utilizing a chainsaw.”

The two-floor school has thick stone walls and tall ceilings. It does, says Patrick, get very cold in winter when unoccupied for a few weeks and takes a while to warm up. When snow piles up, it’s a tough job clearing a path to the door.

Patrick handled the entire renovation of the schoolhouse himself — plumbing and heating upgrades included. He repainted the outside walls white, and livened up old yellow shutters with a coat of green paint.

Rewiring was tricky, he says.

“The wiring was typical of a small outdated Italian village — scary-thin and never appropriate for contemporary tech gear. I may activate solely the lights, nothing else, not even the microwave. It had few kilowatts of energy and stored tripping.”

‘Dreadful’ kitchen

Uk buyer Carrega-Connio house original kitchen c Patrick

Patrick says he ripped out the ‘dreadful’ outdated kitchenette.

Courtesy Roy Patrick

The house had some fixtures when Patrick bought it, however he disposed of the “shockingly dreadful” kitchenette that had been used by the family who lived there after the school shut. For furniture, he toured local flea markets, keeping an eye out for unusual items.

“The inside decor is eclectic, there’s a bit of contemporary and retro: a typical Italian marble desk, outdated wood kitchen furnishings, bucolic work, the pinnacle of a mummified wild boar, a comfortable couch chair. Red is the predominant colour. There’s a crimson range, a crimson microwave, crimson kettle, crimson chairs. I’ve a pretty, electrical blanket to maintain me heat which is my luxurious.”

Patrick says he has a love-hate feeling for the pine paneling that covers the interior walls. His first impulse was to tear it out, but since it was in a good condition and creates a warm ambiance, he decided to leave it in place.

“I nonetheless pinch myself, cannot consider my luck,” he says. “The faculty was in nice form, the ceilings had been lovely. The huge restyle is accomplished but it surely’s nonetheless a work-in-progress, every time I go to there’s one thing to do. I by no means chill out, all the time engaged on small fixes. I like spending time excited about the way to enhance issues.”

When not mending, Patrick passes the time cooking and listening to music — when locals hear the melodies playing from his window they know he’s back in town and it’s party time.

Even though the renovation hasn’t cost him a fortune given that the property was far from dilapidated, it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

Patrick says he needed to bring scaffolding to fix and paint the outside — which he recalls as quite “a harmful process” — and had to fit a new shower in the bathroom as there was just a toilet.

“I needed to battle by way of a sequence of issues,” he says. “In the UK I do know precisely the place to go to purchase the instruments and supplies I would like. But in Carrega I had no concept. So first, you’ll want to discover out the place to drive to and which retailer or particular person to search for earlier than you begin the work, you’ll want to plan it.”

Another catch was that he struggled to insure the house given that it is located, like many beautiful parts of Italy, in an earthquake-prone area.

The best advice Patrick wants to share with people thinking of buying a home in Carrega is to think carefully beforehand.

“Apart from a weekly supply of cheese with individuals knocking at doorways, there’s completely nothing in any respect in the village.”

Provisions must be bought from the nearby village of Cabella, which though less than 10 miles away, takes more than 30 minutes to reach along a road littered with hairpin curves.

“Believe me, it isn’t a good drive alongside these slim mountain roads, notably after they’re coated with model new virgin snow. It could be scary.”

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