I have not been posting very much lately because I have dedicated myself 100% to the big (or better said, massive) venture that my boyfriend and I have embarked on, that is…. setting up a bed and breakfast in the heart of Tuscany.
After having spent over two years looking for the right property and almost an year to buy it (it’s not as easy as it may sound!), we have finally started the building works to convert the “old” (and somewhat letdown) property into a brand new Tuscan bed and breakfast, keeping the Tuscan tradition very much alive and mixing it with some modern touches.
Not an easy task (and Italian bureaucracy doesn’t definitely help) but we are committed to get to the end….and we are almost there! Though the opening date is not set yet (we estimate before summer 2017), you can follow our progress on Villa San Michele Facebook page(give it a like too!) 🙂
So, whilst the builders dig hard, we do our best and we get on with all the paperwork, the training courses and the jobs that we can do by ourselves: gardening, jet-washing all the outside patios and paths, sanding and varnishing something like 40 wooden shutters (it does take a while) etc….physical work in the Tuscan sun doesn’t feel that hard, after all!
Are thinking about visiting Tuscany and want to know where we are? We are located in a tiny hamlet called Vico d’Elsa, in the municipality of Barberino Val d’Elsa on the Tuscan hills in the Valdelsa area (Florence metropolitan area).
And if you need any suggestions on what to visit near us, just scroll to the bottom of this post and you will get a full list of some of the most beautiful spots in the area (San Gimignano and Siena just to name a few) and their distance from our place! For more details and information on the region, just have a look at my Tuscan posts to get some inspiration.
If you think someone else might be interested in visiting Tuscany in the near future, share the post or visit our Facebook page! I will be extremely grateful 🙂
If a year ago someone had told me that it would have taken us (my boyfriend and I) a full year to buy a property in Italy, I think we would have probably walked away – and choose another country. A year. In the same period of time I had plenty of friends that got engaged and married, others planning children and actually giving birth to them.
But I suppose that – at the end of the day – buying a property in Italy is probably something like having a baby: painful and rewarding at the same time.
Now that we have finally completed, we don’t even have time to stop and think about the whole process itself but I am pretty sure we won’t never forget the experience: extremely slow, stressful and – for most of it – terribly frustrating. So, if you are thinking about buying down here, make sure you have plenty of patience and you are truly committed to get to the end. And in the not too distant future if you need a place to stay while looking around for the right property (which it can take a while!)…you can stay with us – keep reading! 🙂
Every single person that we met throughout the process (agents, consultants, builders etc) promptly reminded us “This is Italy!”, which basically means:
Bureaucracy is a nightmare. Sadly Italy lives up to its name and it doesn’t seem it will make procedures easier any time soon. From the very first moment you land in Italy you will soon realize that literally everything needs a stamp and someone’s signature in order to go ahead…Plenty more to be said on this topic!
If you don’t speak Italian, language is clearly an obstacle because you will necessarily have to rely on someone else for the whole buying process. To find someone you can rely on it’s a whole different story (and that will deserve a separate post too!). Being an Italian speaker, I still had my difficulties throughout the whole process.
We have bought a property made up of an old farmhouse and a former hay-barn dated XVI century. Pretty old eh? Well, if you are looking to buy something similar just bear in mind that there is a huge number of countryside properties (at least in Tuscany, but I am pretty sure that the further south you go in Italy and the worse it will be) that to some extent does not comply with the current building/landscape regulations. I can easily say that out of the over 30 properties that we viewed in Tuscany before falling for this one, NONE was actually 100% compliant at the time of visiting. Again, plenty more to be said on this point but generally the bigger the house and the more likely it is there might something not fully legal or that needs to be fixed in order to be fully compliant. It can takes days or it can take months or – worst case scenario – it can’t be fixed. As long as you are prepared, no problem.
Plenty should be said on the quality of real estate agents – and we met quite a few in the last couple of year. Sorry to say that – and I am pretty sure it does not apply to everyone of course – but I don’t need a realtor to enter a kitchen and tell me “this is the kitchen” or to enter a bathroom and tell me “this is the bathroom” (YES, I am still frustrated about this). What about giving away some more basic but constructive information that can truly help the purchase? With the commissions they get (from both sides!), they should definitely provide a far better service.
Other than that, it has been definitely a fun ride with plenty of ups and downs, a lot of people that have crossed our path (some of them truly amazing that made and still make our days) and a whole bunch of new experiences that will definitely help us in the upcoming challenges – there will be plenty!
For us, completing on this property is just a step closer to the final goal that is not only converting it into our “home” but also into a bed and breakfast. Definitely a big challenge that will take a few more months of hard work but we are so looking forward to literally open our doors to our future guests and sharing with them our love for Tuscany, Italy, travels and plenty more that all the efforts will be absolutely worth it.
And the bottom line is: if you are planning a trip to Tuscany in the upcoming year(s), we would definitely love to host you! We expect to be up and running for the next season so, if you wish, follow us along this path: we will launch a webpage and an Instagram account so you can follow our progress (and give some advice too, why not?).
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In the meantime, before we disclose our location here are some of the most beautiful places in Tuscany that would deserve a visit and that are very close to where we live: