We went on a reccie to Puglia to have a look at some properties. Having been there before to investigate the countryside and different regions of Puglia, I was keen to have a look at what property is available in what areas and what might work for my plans.
So, we took a 5-day jaunt early on in the season to look at nearly properties! Intense, to say the least. But it’s interesting how this sort of thing works out and the wheat and the chaff were quickly separated.
Day one saw just 5 properties ranging from a tumbledown farmer’s cottage in the Guaceto Nature Reserve, to a post-war villa surrounded by fields and olive groves, to a property that caught our hearts.
Casa Lykke, owned by a cheery Swede, had great potential but weirdly it wasn’t at all what we expected to fall in love with. A white clutch of Trulli in an acre of land, Casa Lykke came with plans already drawn up for a B&B conversion, an extension and a pool, plus the land had a lovely collection of fruit and nut trees. A delightful set up but the plot had neighbors and was situated on the outskirts of a very genteel residential neighborhood (Selva di Fasano). So, not what we were looking for at all! But it certainly caught our eye and we snuck back the next day to have a look again.
Day two was the threshing machine! A mother and daughter team from Scotland, who have lived in Puglia for 14 years took us through a quick fire round of questions to test the colored of our mettle… and how serious we really were about converting and renovating a Trullo… we saw a handful of properties with them, including a dilapidated Trullo on a fabulous, large plot of land, but the permissions to develop further were limited.
We saw a couple of renovated Trulli complexes which proved to us that we simply didn’t want a Trullo! Delightful and smurf-like as they are, they are not what we’re looking for. The rooms are very small with extremely thick walls, so developing, adapting and renovating them is challenging and we may still not have got what we were looking for. The final property was a full-sized villa with a couple of Trulli cones, already renovated with a hectare of land. Lovely, but not adaptable enough for us and too residential… So, the list of 25 remaining properties was whittled down to just 8, and two appointments with Trulli agents, cancelled!
The Basilicata property we had our eye on had been one of the contenders we were keen to see, but the unavailability of the agent by phone or email over the last couple of weeks became evident, as we received a very direct email saying the owners didn’t want to sell to foreigners! Dashed were our plans of tree houses in forests, rock climbing and mountain biking across our %5hectares! We later found out that the area we were keen on is one of the Ndrogheta’s strongholds, i.e. the mafia… so, no, we didn’t see the property.
We allowed ourselves a day off, to remind ourselves of the different landscapes on offer, fitting in another trip to Matera and Alberobello, and we drew up a few more areas of interest. We went back to Casa Lykke on our final day and had a proper, productive chat with the agent. It was very promising and it was definitely a contender.
Then we saw Villa Giustini… breathtaking. An Italian the villa, just outside Oria, 30m minutes from the sea. So much potential – more money, of course! But so much potential. What do you think?! Olive grove, lemon orchard, new pool, extended rooms with en suite bathrooms, lodges in the olive grove…
On our return, the business planning process took over and with a comprehensive business plan that could have won awards for its detail under our arm, we lined up a couple of chats with banks.
So, Brexit. I’m not going to get political, but FFS!
With Brexit looming, no UK bank will give us a mortgage for a property in Europe and its unlikely we’ll get a business loan. Great. So, private investment is the direction we’ve been pointed in…
Villa Giustini, top left below and Casa Lykke, top right…: