Updated: November 2017
In 2012, my wife, Allegra, and I decided to give up perfectly sensible jobs in Bristol, in the UK, to follow a dream… namely to move to Italy, renovate a farmhouse and spend our summers drinking wine and walking in the mountains, and our winters snowboarding. Sounds alright doesn’t it…
We both knew it wasn’t the most sensible of ideas, but when you want something enough you can overlook that. So, we did.
A few months later, with our little Schnauzer Otto in tow, we moved to Piemonte in North West Italy and bought said farmhouse in the rolling, vine-covered hills of the Langhe. It’s a relatively unknown area compared to places like Tuscany and Le Marche, but there is so much to see and explore. And the food and wine are simply incredible.
The house needed a lot of work, but after a year of struggling through planning, we were finally been able to get started on the renovations. A year or so later, after many a struggle, which you can read about on this here blog, we were able to move into our house and start welcoming guests to the Langhe’s finest holiday home – a five-bedroom private holiday home for up to 12 people, with its own swimming pool!
Five years later, and while things haven’t always gone entirely smoothly, we’re still here and everyone has been so welcoming towards us. I still can’t quite believe I get to live somewhere this beautiful. Otto has learnt to say “bau bau” instead of “woof woof” and my Italian is slowly coming along too. He also has a little sister now, Bee, who terrorises him non-stop! She’s amazing and has given us a new drive to get things done, to create an amazing home and life for her.
She’s four years old now and is a proper little Italian. She refuses to eat anything other than Pasta, Risotto or Gnocchi, drives her little car like a nutter and likes nothing better than diving on the floor and rolling around in agony when playing football!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy following our journey.
If you want to contact us and don’t fancy leaving a comment here, please message us through our facebook page or email me at email@example.com
81 thoughts on “About”
Welcome to the wierd and wonderful world of being at home elsewhere than home 🙂 Hang on in there with the estate agents: don’t forget that we Brits have a reputation for being cool and unflappable in all circumstances 😉
Ha ha, thanks! I may have let the veneer of coolness slip just once or twice… I’ll do my best to regain it though. I have the British reputation to uphold after all! 😉
Good luck, Richard. We only know Torino and Asti, but there’s bound to be a good adventure waiting in Piemonte for you.
If there’s not a book in your story (that’s sort of been done now) there’s at least a good blog in the offing! And thanks for following my one too. I’ll drop by sometimes to see how things are going for you.
Thanks Richard. I’d be more than happy with a half-decent blog I think!
Rich – this is amazing. Massive congrats to you both for taking the leap. Something everyone dreams of, but very few have the courage to see it through. I’ll be following your progress on here – wishing you the very best of luck.
Thanks mate, much appreciated. How are things with you these days? It’s been way too long… if you’re ever in the area, let me know, maybe I could teach you to snowboard?!
Thanks for the likes of some of my posts. I love the header picture you have, I actually have taken several pictures from that same spot. Is a beautiful view from La Morra
Thanks Pete, I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and learning about Bra. I have a lot more to get through though, so expect a few more likes in the coming days…
Thank you so very much for bringing Piemonte and Le Langhe into focus. It is my homeland even though I do not live there any more… Vera di Torino –
PS: originally my mom’s family came from Savigliano and Carmagnola and my dad from Moncrivello on the way to Aosta, I spent the war years in Bosconero Canavese where my family owned land… Ciao, V.
Hi, thanks so much for your comment! It really is an incredible area. We’re only just getting to know it properly now, there is just so much to see, and yet for some reason it is still relatively unknown outside of Italy…
It’s not much of an anecdote, but we very nearly went to Carmagnola last weekend for an antiques market. I’m sure we will go soon, I’ll post some photos on our facebook page when we do, though I don’t imagine it will have changed much! And Savigliano is very close to us, we’ll have to go there soon too.
Thanks again for checking out my blog and I hope you’ll enjoy my updates. You probably know the area better than we do at the moment, so if you have any tips feel free to share!
What a great blog – thanks for coming by and for the follow! 🙂
Thanks! I really enjoyed checking out your blog. I look forward to the next instalment.
Richard, thank you for visiting my blog and for prompting me to drop into yours. I just read you story about the antique market – oh it sounds amazing. What a brave and wonderful thing you have done moving to Piemonte. I look forward to following your adventures and reading more.
Hi , it’s a pleasure, I really enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for checking mine out in return! And yes, the antiques market was awesome, far better than I thought it would be. I can’t wait to go back!
I’ve nominated you! Please accept this blog award–The Versatile Blogger–to see how to accept go to Postcards from Italy-Blog Awards–at http://www.nataliasarkissian.wordpress.com
Hi – thanks very much for the nomination, I really appreciate it! I’ll go to your site now to find out more…
Hi Richard, I’ve nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger award: http://wp.me/p2dhYt-zA No worries if it’s not for you…
Hi – thanks very much for the nomination, I really appreciate it! I just noticed it on your latest post… I was nominated for the same thing a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to get around to doing something about it, maybe your nomination will give me the impetus I need. Thanks!
Cheers – same happened to me. After one nomination I thought “should I or shouldn’t I?”, but the second nomination sent me over the edge.
One tip – make sure you’ve got an hour or two to spare, as notifying everyone takes forever!
I have just come across to you blog – really good job and I like very much your writing. Thank you for visiting my website and for checking mine out! I agree, living in Langhe is a great adventure and every time I go around vineyards and tiny old towns I admire beautiful images before my eyes. Moreover, during all spring, summer and autumn there are a lot of smaller and bigger nice events, a lot of opportunity to taste local wines or simply enjoy dinner under the sky. I can’t wait for your new posts and good luck with farmhouse renovation!
Hi Monika, thanks for popping by! I spent a good hour this morning flicking through your website and admiring all the great photos, I look forward to seeing more!
You’re right, it’s a great place to be, and I really feel like we’ve made the right decision, I just can’t wait to get to know it even better.
I’m really glad to have found your website, thanks for commenting!
Thank you Richard! Living in the Langhe I discovered a new hobby – photography. :))
Great blog, thanks for sharing.
Do you mind sharing what you do for a living? Living on savings, or you and your wife got new jobs there?
Thanks again. An inspiration.
Hi, thanks for your comment… are you from the inland revenue though!?
We’re don’t have proper jobs at the moment, though we do a bit of freelance work. Our whole plan was to give up our jobs and move here to live a bit more. We’re just about getting by financially, and then once our house is renovated we hope it will bring in a bit more.
Are you thinking of doing something similar?
Hey there, I have nominated you for the Liebster award – if you’d prefer not to accept, please don’t worry as it was quite a bit of work! 🙂
Forgot to put the link!
Hi – thanks so much for the nomination! In all honesty, I’m not sure I will ever get around to answering all the questions and nominating others… but I do promise to try. Thanks again!
Love your blog Richard, really enjoy following your adventures in your new surroundings 🙂 You guys are living the dream!! I hope to follow in your footsteps one day 🙂
Thanks a lot Andrea! We try to remind ourselves every day that we are ‘living the dream’, it’s a great experience and it’s even better for knowing that other people are following our adventures. Best of luck with your plans – do you hope to move to Italy?
I know sometimes people can think that a certain lifestyle can seem as if you were ‘living the dream’ but of course no matter where you live you will face difficulties. When I first moved to Britain all my family thought I was living the dream (they still think I am) and I do feel really lucky for living here but what they don’t see is the hard work that goes into your every-day and that living here also have its difficulties just like living anywhere else. I work in an office at the moment and as a bit of a cliche dream of moving to Italy one day – even if for just 6 months to learn the language, but my ultimate dream is to set up a photography retreat somewhere in the Italian countryside. Oh well… one day.. 🙂
A photography retreat sounds amazing, can I please put my name down for when you open??
I guess that’s the thing with ‘living the dream’, there’s always real-life stuff that needs to be done or that gets in the way. That said, we make these choices (and it’s amazing that we’re even able to), and personally there’s nothing I would rather be doing right now. It can be annoying sometimes, but I’m really happy to be doing what I’m doing. I guess that’s as close to ‘living the dream’ as you can get…
People’s perceptions of what your life must be like are another thing entirely though! 🙂
You most certainly can put your name down, although the chances of this turning into a reality at the moment are rather small..! 😉
As I return home to Australia to set up a new life in another paradise, it’ll be fun to live vicariously with you doing the same in glorious Piemonte! Good luck 🙂
Hi, thanks for checking my blog out. I wished I’d found yours sooner so that I could have followed your travels in real-time, but I look forward to reading all about your new adventures back in Australia!
I’m the editor of The Local Italy, an English language website for news in Italy. We run a weekly “My Italy” column, in which we interview foreigners who have settled in Italy, and I was wondering if you’d like to contribute? Many thanks, Angela
Hi Angela, thanks for your message. I’d be happy to contribute, thanks for asking. We’ve not been here that long compared to most of your contributors, but I guess that could help us give a slightly different perspective… Feel free to email me or message me through our facebook page. Thanks!
It is so great meeting kindred spirits of all ages who have fled the trap . . . good for you guys
Thanks! And thanks for the follow, I’ll be checking your blog out shortly!
I’m not sure if I have already contacted you… I thought I would get in touch as I am looking for expats who are renovating their properties for a new series called House Hunters International: Renovation. I wonder if you may be interested in getting involved?
The original show, ‘House Hunters International’ is a half-hour TV show currently airing on the Home and Garden Television Network (HGTV) in America and the Travel Channel in the UK. The series is designed to de-mystify the international home-buying process, by going behind the scenes of a house hunt where expats and their real estate agents tour 3 homes. At its core, House Hunters International is a travel show concentrating on the idiosyncrasies of the locales and what makes them special and different.
Here are some examples of the show that you can watch on Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reYI3L3lC-c – Barcelona from LA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOiump3__Mo – Vienna from California
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tblIVLw0coE – Panama from Pennsylvania
We are working on an exciting new spin-off show called House Hunters International: Renovation and we are looking for expats who have recently bought fabulous properties and are about to embark on some imminent renovations. Ideally they should be outgoing and fun and have bought a property within the last few years. We are looking for people throughout Europe and I thought perhaps you might fit the bill!
We are looking for the renovation projects to complete by the beginning of December so perhaps a new kitchen, a small extension, an entire style makeover etc. We have some budget that would go towards finishing the project which makes it a little more interesting!
Please do get in touch if you may be interested in the show.
CASTING PRODUCER LEOPARD FILMS
1-3 St Peter’s Street, London N1 8JD – +44 20 7704 3300
Hi Michelle, yes, we’ve already had two messages from you about this. I think our renovations are too big though, we won’t be done by December.
Love me or hate me, I have nominated you for a bloger-to-blogger award. Read all about it here: http://wp.me/p2V9GN-8A
Thanks for following – how can I not do the same? Italy for goodness sake!
It’s a pleasure, thanks for following back! I really enjoyed reading your blog. I foresee lots of furniture projects coming our way…
Thank you for following my blog! Happy that you like it 🙂 what an interesting blog you have 🙂 for sure will be back here ! have a nice weekend 🙂
No worries, thanks for visiting my blog back! I look forward to reading more of yours and seeing more of beautiful Siena!
Dear Otto, I know you really write this blog for your masters, so I am sending you this award “Woman’s Skirt Award” I am sure there are some rules to follow.
All the Best PN and Mrs Sensible
Woof woof woof bau… woof bau, lol!
I LOVE your entry on pop ups. I just moved back to the states (Chicago) from Abu Dhabi and I can’t seem to stand to hear the word pop up. My favorite coffee shop here has a rotating ‘pop up pastry’ shop and it makes me cringe so much that I hate to walk in and hear the words. The pastries are fantastic, don’t get me wrong. Just the term and the way it’s the new thing is making me crazy. Your entry just made me laugh out loud. I knew I wasn’t alone.
Hi Kerri, thanks so much! It’s good to know I’m not alone in my hatred of all things pop-up. Just the other day I was reading about a place in London that is going to be a permanent home to something like 200 pop-up shops. I’m pretty sure they used to just call that a market…
Hi richard, thanks for liking http://www.delightfullyitaly.com, and congratulations for having the guts of redesigning your life.
All the best
Hi Jean-Pierre, thanks for stopping by back! That’s a great blog you have there, lots of interesting stuff. I haven’t seen much about the best part of Italy yet though… 😉
Hi Richard, thanks for following my blog. Feel free to drop me a note for any “personalized” travel tip in Italy. Langhe are a fantastic place, but there so much more to discover in Italy!
Thanks Jean-Pierre, I will do. I’m trying to see as much of Italy as possible, but at the same time still really getting to know Piemonte. So much to see, so little time!
Hi Richard, thanks very much for following my food blog .. much appreciated..
No problem Antonio, thanks for following me back. I’ve really enjoyed having a look through your blog, there’s some delicious-looking stuff on there!
Hello Richard, thanks very much I’m always trying to do my best and serve most people possible .. vegan kitchen as well 🙂 Have a great week ahaed my friend.
Hello Richard!! Thanks!!
Have stumbled across your blog and have just read your intro! That is sensational stuff! We too feel like we are in that rut of work and stressing about work and would so love to just start anew like you guys have. Will be following and hope to be inspired 🙂
Thanks for following! I love your blog by the way… Though I think you need to add a trip to Piemonte to your bucket list! 😉
Yes – we definitely will need to add Piemonte to our list especially now that we know more about it 🙂
Ok, obviously this was here, too. I’ve been enjoying your blog (no, really, despite the impression this gives) and I guess I just assumed I must have already read the about page at some point, without actually ever reading it. Honestly, that hardly ever happens.
But cool backstory!
Ha ha… no worries. I figured most people probably don’t read the About page, I know I rarely do. It’s hard enough just keeping up with the everyday blogs. So I think I’ll forgive you just this once…
But the thing is I normally do read the about page! So I really can’t account for myself on this occasion. In any case, I’m glad you brought it up again in a post for people like me.
We have now fallen in love with the Piedmonte! Those views, the villages, the food, the wine… I could go on and on. We loved staying at the Stra and can’t wait to return. What a beautiful part of Italy. Hope your renovations are progressing.
Thanks so much for letting me know. I’m really glad you enjoyed yourselves. I’d have felt terrible if you’d had a rubbish weekend! 🙂
Enjoyed reading your blog! Flying into Genoa on 19 May. solo traveller. Was hoping to spend 3 days in the Langhe/Roero area, exploring the villages by car, followed by a day on the beach near finale ligure before heading back to Genoa on 22nd evening. Recommend any great traditional restaurants, scenic walks/detours, wineries. Found a nice b&b tra monti e vigne to stay in near La morra.
Hi Eddie, I’ve just sent you an email…
I am quite jealous of what you are doing. We have been considering a move to Italy for some time and have visited twice to explore property options. It is not always easy to organize things or get a response from Italian agents from here in Australia. We have identified a nice property in the province but cannot get a response from the agent. The property is in Sagliano Micca which appears to be just big enough a town to have some life and close enough to Biela and major centres to provide other options. Hopefully the agent will get back to us but after 3 attempts I am not holding my breath.
Keep up the solid progress. We really enjoy watching your achievements from affar.
Hi Ian, thanks for your message! It’s great to hear about your plans. I don’t really know the area around Biella, but I hear it’s beautiful!
I feel your pain regarding people not getting back to you. I’ve spent many an evening cursing car dealers, builders and various suppliers who genuinely just don’t seem that interested in making a living. It’s infuriating. There are others though who are really keen and helpful, you just need to find the right people. If you’re interested in expanding your search a little southwards I can put you in touch with some really helpful agents around here, other than that maybe try to find someone who acts as an middle-man type agent and can approach them on your behalf. There are quite a few people doing that kind of thing now so it should be easy enough to find someone in that area. Best of luck with everything!
I would love to introduce my book about our life in Italy to your readers. It is written in a humorous style and provides insight into the ways of this wondrous land and an inside look at the people (I have relatives!) If one enjoys humor and travel books they may find my book amusing. Or I would love to contribute one of the chapters from my book or participate in an interview.
I am a new author starting out thus if you choose to read my book I would very much appreciate your honest review.
Ivanka Di Felice is a writer living in Tuscany. She will assure you that it’s far less pretentious than it sounds. She was born in Toronto, Canada. She is 39 years and 94 months old. In her quest for happiness, she followed Nora Ephron’s advice: “Secret to life, marry an Italian.”
This light, lively book takes place in Italy, with hilarious anecdotes about the author and her husband’s trip to visit his family in Abruzzo and finally their escape to Tuscany.
Ivanka Di Felice’s own expectations were shattered when she embarked on la dolce vita. She envisioned drinking unforgettable Brunello by candlelight and discussing art and history with elegant dinner guests. Instead, dinner discussions revolved around how to avoid a “bad wind,” whether the Mafia runs IKEA, and bizarre theories on why the Chinese in Italy never have funerals. Now she drinks Zio’s own “unforgettable,” almost undrinkable, wine, as he pays long-winded tributes to the vile liquid as if it were an elixir of the gods. Celebrate with our author—for mere mortals, or their livers, could not have lived to tell the tale.
Follow her unlikely adventures as she’s reduced to tears by crazy-making Italian bureaucrats and tries to find work as a truffle telemarketer. You will encounter elderly aunts climbing trees, pyromaniac septuagenarians, and all sorts of “fowl” play.
So pour yourself a glass of Italian wine, add a dose of accordion music, and spend some time in Ivanka Di Felice’s Italy.
My book can be sampled at:
I thank you so very much for your time.
Ivanka Di Felice
Hi Ivanka, congratulations on your book, what an achievement! It sounds really good, I’ll definitely have a look on Amazon for it. I’m afraid book reviews aren’t really my thing though so I’m afraid I can’t help you there, but hopefully people will see your comment here and go check it out.
Best of luck with it,
what a nice blog! I’m an Italian who made the opposite journey, from Piemonte (even though not from such a nice corner of the region) to London. I’m planning a drive-through day in the Langhe, reminiscing of a day where we got utterly lost there, and I stumbled upon this very funny blog of yours. Good luck with everything!
Thanks Fabrizio! How are you enjoying London? Have a great trip to the Langhe, and I hope you don’t get quite so lost this time!!
Hi there! Well, in all honesty I find London a necessary evil to gain experience in my job, but I’m not planning to stay here for ever. Good luck with your restoration!
That’s a lovely story. Very few people get the opportunity to live their dream. I am also planning to travel to Europe, starting from somewhere in Spain and then going East towards Turkey. Can you suggest places to visit in Italy. Is your holiday home ready now?
Thanks Yasir, and that sounds like a great trip! In terms of places to visit, it kind of depends what you’re into. If you want to send me an email I’ll happily do my best to help out.
The holiday home is going to be ready from this summer. We’re working hard on it at the moment trying to get everything finished!
What a wonderful adventure you and your little family are having! My wife and I are from San Francisco, CA and while we’ve both traveled to Italy before (separately and together), we’ve never explored the Langhe and are looking forward to doing so when we visit in late June/early July. I just wanted to say thank you for the tip on the electric bikes. We will certainly mention your blog when we rent ours. All the best to you and yours, Keith and Sandy
Hi, thanks for your comment! I hope you have a great trip and, of course, that you enjoy the bikes. They take a couple of minutes to get used to but then you’re away! Thanks, Richard