From My Tuscan Window

Chapter 4
With any quest, it is always a good idea to formulate some criteria to serve as a focal point in order to aid in the journey or the adventure. In looking for the perfect house, Sue and I developed several criteria that we felt would be of help not only to us but also to others who might be searching for their own small piece of paradise.

We have subsequently met numerous people who, in their haste, have failed to follow a formula and have purchased Tuscan properties that soon brought buyer’s remorse. Thus, those who have always dreamed of living the romantic vision created by books and movies may wish to pay particular attention to the following suggestions. We listed the following criteria as being essential in limiting our search:

1) If living in the United States, a visit to one’s home in Italy is an ordeal in and of itself. Thus, we felt it important that the search be limited to a distance of no more than an hour or so from the Pisa Airport. After arriving at the airport, we could more easily travel to our home without prolonging the time and duress en route, especially with children.

2) Another important factor is location in relationship to good and inexpensive restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping. Many beautiful houses are located in isolated villages miles away from anywhere. This requires a tiring journey up and down curving, narrow mountain roads just to purchase a carton of milk or a loaf of bread. Although we often found ourselves exploring the remotest parts of Tuscany as a diversion, we decided that even if a house in these locations were offered to us a gift we should decline the offer.

3) Tourist destinations such as San Gimignano, the Chianti Country, or the seaside tend to be very expensive and crowded during the summer season. This is the time of year when we would most likely to be able to enjoy our property, but the constant crowds would make life unpleasant. House prices are usually much higher near popular tourist areas, so we limited our search to places just as interesting and beautiful yet “undiscovered”.

4) The friendliness of the people is of great importance. The contrast between the spirit of the people from one village to another can be quite great. In some villages nearly everyone seems happy to see strangers and they are soon offered a glass of wine or a tour of the town. In other villages, the people may be dour faced and look at you as if you are from another planet. We searched for happy villages.

5) People who purchase isolated farmhouses are faced with the serious problems of vandalism, burglary, and upkeep of the grounds. We limited our search to village houses without land, which are surrounded by the homes of local inhabitants who could keep an eye out for any problem that might occur.

6) The thought of owning an olive orchard or vineyard has seduced many people, some of whom enjoy spending most of their time tending their plants or paying villagers to tend them. I would rather spend my time looking out of my window sipping a glass of good local wine while watching others labor in their fields, orchards and gardens

7) For me, of course, perhaps the most important factor was that the view from the windows of the house should resemble a beautiful painting.

Revised March 3, 2008
Copyright 2005-2006 George H. Russell
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