ANDREW JACKNESS AND CANDICE DONNELLY
WE BOUGHT A HOUSE IN PUGLIA
This is a diary of our progress
April 2019 we traveled to Puglia to buy a house. I'm not sure that we really thought we would do it, but we did. Here's how it happened. And how a couple-married costume and film designers managed to agree that this was the right thing to do; and the right place to do it, while sharing our discoveries. Here's how it's going.
WE WERE LOOKING IN SOUTHERN LECCE
For months from New York Candy had tried to make appointments with realtors in various places; but aside from one, most respond when you're there and ready to look.
Just as common is the local rumor mill. When people find out that an outsider is in their neighborhood looking, everyone has a suggestion. The bar is the best place to start. Introducing yourself is the easiest way to become friends with the locals. It helps to speak Italian. We speak enough, but the three weeks in April that we spent in Puglia, were like an Italian immersion class.
Candice had gotten Italian citizenship in the late 90's, and through a convoluted and sometimes inexplicable process, I had finally become a citizen myself in 2018.
We had been to Puglia the year before staying outside of Otranto, and loved it. There was a consideration of going back; but when coincidently I heard from our friend Eve, who lives in Rome that she had bought, and was renovating a place in Marittima Del Diso, and that there was a small community of artists and filmmakers in the area, it helped us decide on where we were going to look.
Puglia, the heel of the boot of Italy is long, and the area around Bari which has the major airport is easier for Europeans to get to, so the larger number of foreigners stay north of Lecce. Italians are the majority of summer residents of Salento.
On our second trip we traveled to Monopoli and spent several days investigating that part of Puglia: Polignano a Mare, Oria, Francavilla, Sava, Putignano. Diego Moretto, a realtor from Oria Candice had contacted showed us some great things, was charming, and would be the last agent we worked with who spoke english well. We had been to Ostuni and Alberobello the previous visit, and didn't have an interest in the picturesque stone Trulli of that area, having small rooms with little light.
The architecture of Puglia is predominantly stone, and rooms are designed around columns with arched ceilings called "volte a stella." These vaulted ceilings make for high rooms, and very high 2nd floors with many steps to climb. The ceilings are often defined with painted lines showing the shapes of the vaults.
April 6, 2019
PUGLIA IS NOT TUSCANY
The bay of Otranto
Alberobello, Oria, Francavilla, Monopoli, Putignano Al Mare, Polignano, Sava
Our real interest was farther south, down to Lecce the lower part of the heel of the Italian boot. The province is home to the beautiful city of Lecce, filled with baroque architecture and a large historic center, it's one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. The twisting streets follow no rule, and it's easy to get completely turned around and lost while gawking at the golden buildings constructed with "Leccese" stone, the most common of materials in Puglia.
Candy in May of 2018 with our elderly dog Pip being carted around in a carriage since his walking had been slowed down by an ACL tear, and he was feeling the effects of two bouts with Lyme disease. He would make it past the new year; but he thoroughly enjoyed this first trip to Puglia with us.
Our daughter Bronwen who had joined us in Otranto the first trip
Diso, Marittima, Spongano, Andrano, Castro, Poggiardo, and Maglie
We headed to Marittima Del Diso where Eve's architect was meeting us in a cafe he designed; which was the hippest place in town, but would also become a hot spot for most of the business we did. The Utopia.
Marcello Apa was supervising the crews working on Eve's house, and had arranged for our rental house in Marittima. His office is in this lovely tiny town. He knew everyone, and they all know each other.
Marcello would befriend and accompany us to each of the important houses and apartments we visited with a number of agents. He was invaluable in helping us to assess the viability of all the property we looked at. Most required extensive renovation, and although both of us are designers and have good imaginations, Marcello was able to help us visualize the possibilities each one had, and which walls we could remove and which might be structural.
April 10, 2019
MARITTIMA DEL DISO
Driving into Marittima we discovered a
small quiet town, after all it was April, and settled in to spend the next several weeks looking for a new home away from home.
For the second half of April we would drive between a large number of the towns in Lecce to try to define our goals and decide how we might want to live in this new and very different place. Each day a new experience helped teach us something about ourselves and what we were looking for.
Our first meeting with Marcello at the Utopia.
Our trip was in April, so Easter featured prominently in every café and pasticceria.