Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vineyard House vs Villa by the Sea

My 2nd post for today (so scroll down first and read my post from this morning!).

Yesterday, a realtor showed us an incredible "country" house attached to a very small vineyard. Vincenzo, the owner, has a "casa piccola" (little house) behind the vineyard where he comes everyday to tinker with the plants, make coffee, take a little nap. Nathan hit it off with Enzo, despite neither of them speaking the other's language. The house is huge, with five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a laundry room we could play soccer in, covered terrace surrounding the upstairs rooms, and the huge, tiled terrace with 360 degree mountain / countryside views. The property has lemon trees, kiwi vines, grapes, roses - the list goes on. To get to the house, you drive off of the main road onto a narrow, 1.5 car width lane that passes by beautiful ruins of an underground city. It's quite interesting to think of driving by this every time we return home. Then it's up, up, up the small lane - when you meet another car, one of you must back up until reaching a driveway to pull into and allow the other car to pass. Despite this remoteness, the house is only a 10 minute drive to the Pozzuoli port (the port in the blog from about three days ago). Before we left, Enzo disappeared into his casa piccola and returned with 5 liters of his homemade wine as a gift for us. We're both a bit in love with Enzo.

We thought this was the house for us. But today, another realtor took us to the "villa by the sea." This one is all about outdoor living. Park in the garage at street level, then head up the stairs and onto the terrace. The house is all on one level with very small interiors - a living room, kitchen, three bedrooms (small) and 1.5 bathrooms. The 2nd bathroom does have a shower head in it with a rack to hang a curtain, however, when you pull the curtain closed, the toilet would be in your shower with you. So I'm going to call it just a half bath. The floors are traditional, Italian tile - each room has a different pattern, and we find them gorgeous, although they're not to everyone's taste. The outdoor terrace is larger than the interior, and also includes a "casa piccola" for the landlady to use on weekends (she has her own entrance from the street). It has a large grassy area for Crazy Dog, and in the back corner, an outdoor kitchen, complete with an old pizza oven and marble washing tub (one of the ones with the top that flips over and has the washing board grooves on the other side). Continue on around to the back of the house, and there is a covered patio and a cantina / wine cellar built into the slope. There are floor to ceiling wine racks with room for hundreds of bottles - more wine than we could drink in a lifetime! The front terrace has a view of treetops in front, and off to the side, a nice sea view.

Quite nice...then we were directed up a set of outdoor stairs. The house became ours the minute we set foot upstairs. A rooftop terrace with unobstructed sea views - Capri and the Sorentine peninsula in the distance. Smack in the middle of this terrace is what the landlady called the "gazebo." A little different from what a U.S. gazebo is like - it's a fixed structure with metal frame and roof, but completely glassed in - I believe the closest comparison might be a greenhouse. And the clincher - a gelateria is just two blocks away, along with a little shop to purchase the wine and bufala di mozzarella, several restaurants, a metro stop to get into town, and a free beach where we can take Crazy Dog in evenings and winter. And the clincher to the clincher, the landlady owns a hotel in the next village over that has swimming pools and hot tub. Her tenants are allowed to use the pools. Yes!

We basically begged the landlady (through our realtor) to not show the house to anyone else today, and plan to be at the Housing Office tomorrow when they open in order to put in a contract on the house. We do have some concerns b/c our realtor told us the landlady wants a price much higher than we can pay, but that she told the landlady what we could afford and that's what we'll pay. She also said the landlady is fine with us having a dog, but I'm not sure "Mama" (as Nathan asked to call her, she's 86 years old and a firecracker) actually knows we have a dog. I think we're okay on no one taking the house out from under us b/c it's very different from what most American families want and definitely has some drawbacks - no dishwasher (egads!), only room for a tiny stove, small interior, only one shower, small garage with no way to enter the house w/o going outside (so in cold & rain, it will be a pain), but for us, it meets every single wish we had on our list. During this contract negotiation process, we'll have to give up our hold on Enzo's country house. It will go quickly to someone else, so if this house falls through, we'll be back to square one. My biggest concern is the price, but we have to give trust to our realtor that she's being honest with us. She's come highly recommended - I haven't had a single negative review of her, so let's hope all goes well!

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