Photo: Just like many families in the country we keep pigs. Ours may not necessarily be real.
After the turn of the century we decided to invest in a holiday home. We opened our minds and an atlas. Language wasn’t a consideration, if we had to learn a new one then that was all part of the adventure. We considered all the continents first before focussing on countries. Most continents were eliminated as being just too far away. We were left with Europe, western Europe, as the most practical. We eliminated countries one by one until we were left with Italy.
We’d read an article in The Times that the Marche region was the new Tuscany (17 years later we still see the same article regurgitated in various publications). The region appealed because it was cheaper than Tuscany, had far fewer Brits and Ryanair started flying to Ancona for ridiculously low prices (we once flew out and back for 4 pence, I’m serious, 1p each, each way).
During 2001 and 2002 we visited the Marche region to find the area we liked before starting to view properties. Location, location, location. We settled on the most northerly Province of Pesaro Urbino. We contacted estate agents armed with a map showing areas we liked and areas we wouldn’t consider.
We had a plan.
Plan A: Buy a small townhouse, learn the language, culture and property market.
Plan B: Ten years later, sell the townhouse, buy a farmhouse with a small amount of land, maybe some olive trees and even some vines.
In October 2002 we spent a long weekend viewing houses that we didn’t like for one reason or another. The agent said they had one last place to show us. It turned out to be a 300 year old farmhouse on the top of a hill that had been empty for nearly 30 years. We looked around inside and could see the potential. We went outside to see the view of the village across the valley.
We stood there, looked at each other and said “Shit, this is Plan B”. We just about had enough money to buy it but not enough to restore it. We bought it.
We called the house Casa Angeletti (House of Little Angels) after the Angeletti family who, as far as we know, were the last people to live here before it became empty.
We completed the contracts in April 2003 and applied for planning permission to restore the house. The first scaffolding appeared in February 2004.
By July it was coming along nicely. Just as well as we planned to use it for the first time in September.
Thanks to fantastic friends we did indeed enjoy our first stay in September. John, Neil and I drove a Luton van full of furniture from London whilst Angela, Jan and Jane flew out a day later. We were very relieved to find the house ready when we turned into the drive.
We could only afford to do the ground floor, which made it interesting. John and Jane in the bedroom, Neil and Angela in the entrance hall and us in the dining room, all sharing a single shower room. Cosy. Despite this and a makeshift kitchen we had a great time and celebrated in the traditional style.
During the fifteen years since buying the house we’re restored upstairs, changed the fireplace, repainted the outside, completely re-furbished our bathroom, extended the terrace, installed a jacuzzi, sorted the garden, planted more olive trees and two rows of sangiovese vines.
We’ve not finished yet. We’re waiting for planning permission for a garage and cantina and plan to re-do the garden once that’s finished
We’ve made many new friends, can get by in Italian and now spend the summers here and the winters in London.
Our first sight of Casa Angeletti.
How its looks today.
Before and after
One of our guests, Lesley, bought us a glass angel to go in Casa Angeletti. We placed it in one of the original beams. We hope the angel will stay there for many centuries to come.
Friends and family that have been to stay
Abi, David, Diarmuid, Hannah & Jenni,
Alan & Jill
Andy, Kathryn & Alexander
Carl & Gabi
Darren, Trish, Cameron, Jacqui & Graeme
Fiona, Simon, Charlie & Holly
Gerben & Jeanne
Hilary, John, Emily & Jamie
Ian, Denise, Charlotte & Luke
John & Jane
Keith & Christine
Maan & Bridget
Martha, Ian & Belinda
Neil & Angela
Pete, Len & James
Paul, Tiina & James
Rich, Lyn & James
Rob, Helen & Meggan
Roy & Lesley
Siân & Rob
Simon, Lesley & Ben