There was a bit of an ulterior motive to my trip to Italy. Or, better said, it was very convenient to have a horse riding trip planned to Italy already, as I am currently searching for a home there! This is a bit more of a personal blog post in which I will tell you all about my search, the properties I’ve viewed in Italy, and why it’s the place I want to settle with my horses.
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Most of the people that know me personally have asked why I want to go to Italy, they always assumed I would eventually find a home for myself and my horses somewhere in Africa. I did want to move to Africa initially, and have looked into the options for quite a few years. However, it’s so difficult to move into the continent, and when you have eventually done all the paperwork and successfully immigrated, there is still a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty about land ownership, the possibility of unrest in the country or area, and never knowing for how long the electricity will be off. I will always return to Africa, as I feel so at home at the places I used to live and work there, but I have found out it is not the perfect place for me to settle.
When I was little, we often went on family holidays to Italy. We drove there by car, and as I looked out the window I always imagined riding my pony over all the mountains, rolling hills and open fields along the way. Italy is filled with these incredibly large fields filled with hundreds of hay and straw bales, and this view (to my friends’ annoyance) is one of my favourite sights to see. I imagined having a big herd of horses living out on the field, and making all these bales for them during summer! After these holidays, I didn’t return to Italy for a while. I had a not-so-nice boyfriend there, and after that ended, I disliked the country, I thought. However, as I became less set on moving to Africa, I started thinking about Italy more and more, and remembered how much I loved the landscape.
The Italian lifestyle suits me. Less relaxed than Africa, more free than the north of Europe. There is a big food and wine culture, and people live life more slowly than we do in the north. This, for me, is the perfect in-between of South Africa and the Netherlands. And I also like that the electricity works a bit more often than in South Africa.
During an incredible few days of horse riding in the north of Italy, I realised that everything I remembered Italy to be was true. The people were so friendly and open, the food was simple yet amazing, the wine was some of the best I’d ever had and the landscape was magnificent. The only thing was that I really hoped that Lazio would be greener than Tuscany, as I could perfectly well imagine the struggle of keeping horses in such a harsh and dry environment.
After our horseback holiday, I continued my drive down to Frosinone, just an hour southeast from Rome. The drive was beautiful, and I quickly figured out that Italians drive like maniacs, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the fabulous weather and landscape on the way. I found this area of Italy online, by looking at lots of different properties almost daily, and saw it was green and mountainous, with lots of small mountain villages with authentic pizzerias and old pubs. Seeing the properties in this area made me excited to start something there, maybe just horse riding for myself, or possibly even a small trail riding business, who knows… The properties I viewed were incredible, even though most are in quite a bad state. The landscape is open and there is so much freedom. The houses are authentic, and nature here thrives, in a very green and sunny environment. It also made me enthusiastic to see so many horses along the way, all in large herds roaming free on large patches of land on the sides of the hills. I still need to visit so many more houses before I can make a well-informed decision, no matter how overly excited I may be now. In October, I will return to Tuscany again for a week of horse riding, and the whole month of November I will be in Lazio again to explore the area every day. I already can’t wait.
During this visit, I stayed at Claudia’s incredible bed & breakfast called Casale dei Ricordi. Claudia was an amazing host, born and raised in a stunning old house in Arce, from which she now runs her B&B, and where I will be staying again for the entire month of November. Her place really feels like home, with a cozy guest room and guest bathroom. She showed me the bathroom, which was filled with more different soaps, bath bombs and toiletries than I think I’ve ever used in my life. Her place was the perfect combination of privacy and socialising for me. I could retreat to my room or the beautiful garden if I had to work for a few hours, but she also invited me to join her and her husband for a lovely local lunch. She made me try all the different local foods they have in Arce, and it was incredible. She helped me in my house-search and asked some of her friends and family to keep an eye out for me, which really made me feel at home. I was just impressed by how great this place was, and it’s by far the best AirBnB I ever stayed at. I can’t wait to stay at her place again, see more of Lazio, and hopefully find a dream home for me and my horses.
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