In 2004 we decided to up route from our comfortable lifestyle in Leicestershire and move to Marche, central Italy with our 15 month old daughter, Grace. After a lengthy restoration project we finally moved out to a ‘nearly finished’ home in January 2006 and 14 years on how are we doing?
The first few months in 2006 were extremely stressful – a new country, new language, no family, no friends and a project that still needed finishing off. Grace, then 15 months old just seemed to effortlessly fit in with the Italian lifestyle. She joined a local nursery 5 mornings a week and was very quickly talking in 2 languages, both together sometimes which made understanding her quite interesting.
Whilst Grace was busy making new friends we were sowing grass seed, planting, kitting out all 4 apartments along with another thousand and one jobs to fit in before our first guests arrived in April. Our first mission every morning was to see if there were signs of grass poking through the soil – yes I know we were quite sad!
To make matters worse our geometra walked away from our project and we were left with workmen to organise and outstanding bills to negotiate. Our Italian certainly improved massively as a result which was a positive side. Legal battles followed which hung over our so-called Dolce Vita for the next few years. During this period our business grew successfully, Grace was flourishing as a bilingual ‘Itanglish’ girl and we welcomed Marley, our cocker spaniel to the family unit. He was meant to be a rabbit but the pet shop were quite cunning in making you walk through the puppy corner before arriving at the rabbit hutches. Several failed emergency calls to Dean resulted in an executive decision being made on his purchase: “Mum, he’s going to be so angry” I think were Grace’s words from memory. After an initial “you must be kidding” it was love at first sight!
In a blink of an eye we’re now in 2018. Grace is in her final year of scuola media and has chosen biology and chemistry as her specialisms at superior school in September, Marley has survived being run over, falling from a terrace, eating rat poison and having a cancerous growth removed on his eye and we now have 3 adopted cats aptly named after ice cream flavours. Caserma Carina is surrounded by stunning, mature landscaped gardens lovingly looked after by Dean, we’ve recently completed our 3rd new website and we’re successfully part of Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay in Italy. Our repeat guests make up over 50% of our bookings each year and we’re happy to welcome them back year after year like old friends. They’ve watched Caserma Carina transform over the years and us get a little older (and greyer each year).
With legal cases long behind us we can now concentrate on maintaining our high standards for our guests whilst enjoying this wonderful region of Italy with its breath taking scenery, delicious food and wine and wealth of art and culture. We’ve made some great local friends over the years who we keep entertained with our endless grammatical errors!