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We (Lisa Dohner and John C) are friends who, a few years ago, decided to realize our dream of moving to and buying a house in Italy. During several transatlantic trips, we traversed the country from east to west and north to south to find the area of Italy we wanted to make our home. Classically Italian. Undeveloped historic towns. Quaint small cities nearby. An abundance of natural beauty. A local economy. And eventually, we found our spot -- Monferrato. A highly unspoiled, protected, Unesco World Heritage area in Piemonte, an hour or so drive from some of Italy's best cities and places - Turin, Milan, the Lakes Region (Como, Orta, Maggiore...), Genoa, Portofino, the Dolomites, the Italian Riviera...
Once we drove through this undisturbed secret pocket of Monferrato we knew we would look no further. We found our perfect country house perched on top of a hill with a garden, old-growth trees and meadows, a few fine, friendly neighbors, and a 360 view of a dozen ancient hilltop towns. We are in the country but just five minutes away from several picturesque hilltop villages and twenty minutes away from the vibrant and historic cities of Casale and Asti.
We bought our country house for under $200,000. It is more than 6,000 sqft of living quarters plus a wine press room, two cantinas (cavernous wine cellars), two barns and eight acres of land. It took us about five years of searching to find our spot and then our house but once the bid was accepted, we shifted into high gear. We were on a plane with our pets and precious belongings and received the keys to our new home just four months later.
Lisa worked for many years in Hollywood and on Wall Street and has extensive experience in finance, business affairs and contracts. John has a doctorate in Italian Art History. Our interests and passions include travel, adventure, Italy, traditional Italian homes, cooking, horticulture, and perhaps above all, living a lifestyle which treads as lightly on mother earth as possible.
Here we are (wearing glasses) out with friends waiting for our favorite pizza place to open.
Ours was a typical story of house hunting from abroad. We spent 3 years taking many transatlantic trips to Italy, traversing the country several times looking for the area that we wanted to live in. Classically Italian. Undeveloped and unadulterated historic towns. Quaint small cities and important large cities nearby. An abundance of natural beauty. A local economy. And eventually, we found our spot -- Monferrato. A highly unspoiled, undeveloped, protected, Unesco World Heritage area in Piedmont in Northern Italy, an hour or so drive from some of Italy's best cities and places - Turin, Milan, the Lakes Region (Como, Orta, Maggiore...), Genoa, Portofino, Cinque Terre, the Dolomites, the Alps, the Italian and French Rivieras...
Then the real work began. We made more transatlantic trips (12 in total, costing us more than $30,000 in travel and accommodations). We dealt with dozens of Italian real estate sales agents, many of whom spoke little or no English and some of whom seemed to have a very laid-back approach to selling houses. We looked at more than 100 houses. No matter how great a house seemed online, no matter how specific the criteria we relayed to the real estate agent, the vast majority of the houses we were shown were not to our liking. In the end, we found our house from real estate listings posted on the bulletin board of a town square.
Through this, we discovered a huge need for anyone looking to buy a home in Italy from afar. If only there had been someone on the ground in Italy to represent us who understood and took very seriously our criteria and the kind of house, environs, and locations we were looking for. Someone who could constantly monitor the dozens of national, regional, and local real estate websites, someone who could wade through hundreds of houses that look good online but aren't good in person. Someone who knows and lives among the areas and towns and could do reconnaissance, could weed out the unacceptable, could justify asking prices, could take helpful photos (!), and provide additional helpful information (!) on the properties we were interested in.
And most importantly, an English/Italian-speaking someone who could gather and wrangle and track the listings and information and schedules and logistics from the dozens of Italian real estate agents that we were in constant communication with. If such a person had been here for us, we could have saved tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours of our precious time.
Avoid the frustration and stress, the wasted time and energy, and the wasted money. Hire us as your Personal House Finder. Our fee is about the cost of an airline ticket for two people for just one trip. Next to moving to Italy, it will be the best move you can make!
Our driveway above. I love it! We bought a 6,000 sqft country house with outbuildings and eight acres for US$189,000!!
Let us help you find your Italian dream house and save thousands of dollars in the process...
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