How My Home in Historic Italy Helps Pay for Itself

When Italy gets under your skin, it’s hard to ignore the call of La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life). The country has enchanted me since I first visited in 1972, and so, in 2003—when life finally allowed—my husband Jim and I bought a home there so could we spend part of every year in the country.

It’s an apartment on the steep, rocky edge of the Lima River, in Bagni di Lucca in northern Tuscany. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, which includes a living room and large kitchen, cost €90,000 (about $99,000).

It was our intention to spend at least three months every year in Italy, use the apartment as a base, and travel around the area from there. But, right from the beginning, we loved life in the village and find it difficult to drag ourselves away—spending at least half the year in Italy.

We rent out the apartment for a couple of months a year to help cover the costs of maintaining an overseas property. It wasn’t originally meant to be a money-making venture but this turned out to be easy. It seems everyone wants to visit Italy.

A typical day begins across the river at the local bar and pasticceria (pastry shop) with a cappuccino and an apple sfoglia for €1.90 ($2.10). There are always friends to chat to, both Italian and expat. We have been welcomed wholeheartedly into the little community and feel perfectly at home in the village.

The cost of living is affordable here. Food, particularly eating out, is much less expensive and we have wonderful local fresh food markets where you can pick up the freshest fruit and veg for a couple of dollars.

One of the things I love most about Italy is the change of seasons. In spring, the world turns green before our eyes. I have daffodils and pansies on my balcony and magnolia flowers are falling to the ground in the park. Soon lilac wisteria will be hanging from fences and walls and poppies will grow beside the roads. But Autumn in Italy is my favorite. I love to drive through the mountains with golden leaves falling all around me.

For travel, Italy is centrally placed in Europe making it simple to visit other countries. We have driven to France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Spain, and Greece. It’s a fabulous place to live. Buying our home here is certainly one of the best decisions we have ever made.

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