It has recently occurred to me that we may be a bit crazy. After all, I don’t personally know anyone who has purchased an apartment in Italy, sight unseen and several hours from any major airport in parts unheard of in Southern Campania. Yup, we did that . . .
It all began with innocent web browsing of rental villas, which led to innocent web browsing of villas for sale which led to the “find”, which led to our decision to pursue until we hit a road-block. No, we were not currently “on the market” to buy an Italian villa, apartment or piccola villa when this began. We were simply looking for some villas to rent while in Italy. I have always had a latent interest in real estate; you could say my hobby is browsing properties anywhere that may currently intrigue me in the interest of understanding what you can get for your money. This hobby turned international as I traveled to Italy for the first time over New Years in 2011/2012 and fell completely in love with Roma, Pompeii and Orvieto and continued as George and I planned our honeymoon in Southern Italy to Capri, Sorrento and Positano. One day, as we were reviewing options for rental villas, I thought ” I wonder how much it would cost to buy these villas?” It never occurred to me that we could or would actually buy one, this was just pure curiosity.
Initially, I located some properties that Americanos would call “fixers” in the region of Abruzzo. The Italians would refer to such properties as “storico” or “historic” and the properties would basically be noted as in need of full renovation, BUT, one could purchase a free-standing small house with a beautiful view in this condition in this beautiful but somewhat isolated area for as little as $35,000 to $50,000 euros. Wow, my mind took quite a detour thinking of all the possibilities and how romantic that would be. This incredible find encouraged me to continue exploring options all over Italy. I found something in a city called Agropoli (which I had never heard of) with a beautiful crescent-shaped view of a curved bay along the Mediterranean ($165,000 euros) and no mention of renovations needed. Now, I was really hooked.
As my searching continued, I located a stunning NEW property in an area called Casal Velino, that was beautiful. Although we had no intent of buying a property in Italia, when I saw the price, I could not stop myself from inquiring with the realtor about it – surely at this price, it must be a time-share property, I thought, not even knowing if that concept existed in Italy. The realtor from Property Organisers, promptly replied that no, there was no time-share involved, but rather that price included outright ownership of this apartment which was located high on a hill about 2 kilometers from the Mediterranean with panoramic view of both the sea and layers of nearby mountains. WOW!
We decided to continue this remote (both in distance and in possibility) dialogue with the realtor and received additional information including floor plans, interior pictures and GPS coordinates. We “Google Earthed” the general vicinity, and virtually traveled the nearby roads down to the ocean, but were unable to actually “find” the building through Google Earth and the view in the pictures we received did not seem to match the location of the coordinates. It seems that Casal Velino actually includes several nearby areas, some of which are interchangeably called other names, such as Velina, Castelnuovo Cilento and others including the original centro storico. This entire area is located between the town of Marino di Casal Velino, a designated Blue Flag beach on the Mediterranean and the Cilento National Park (the largest national park in Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Additionally, the street on which the building was located, Contrada San Nicola, popped up in multiple nearby locations with at least two different roads in the area using this name. After receiving a new set of GPS coordinates, we were able to locate the exact building. During this time, we were also able to determine which apartments were still available and which of these had the best view. Our favorite was the highest floor available that faced the sea.
By now, our wedding and honeymoon were two months away. Our “innocent” inquiries took a sudden turn in the direction of serious when we decided to place a non-refundable deposit on this property that we did not intend to buy and scheduled settlement for two months later on the last day of our honeymoon. At 4:00 pm on that day we received the keys to our apartment. The next morning we were on a plane back to the U.S. Our honeymoon might technically be over, but our apartment is the insurance policy that will provide many return adventures “happily ever after”!
Jo Anne and George