Restoring a Dream Home in This Tranquil Corner of Italy

In 2013, Lisa and Sam Chiodo, along with their two children, Carina and Luca, came to the tiny medieval hamlet of Borgata Malpertus, nestled at the foot of the Italian Alps, in search of a simple and affordable life. They fell in love with the landscape and relaxed pace of life and decided to settle down there.

“We were on a very tight budget and bought what I think was probably the cheapest house in Piedmont for $15,100,” says Sam. “The house is 300 to 400 years old, on three floors, and about 2,150 square feet. It was run down, so our friends let us use their holiday house for free in exchange for us giving it a coat of paint.”

“Main costs were putting in double glazed doors and windows and repainting. We’ve spent about $16,600 so far, the house is comfortable but not finished.”

There are only nine people living in Borgata Malpertus and 500 people in the village of Bobbio Pellice, just over a mile away, so everyone knows each other. “Everyone looks out for each other in the village,” says Lisa.

Borgata Malpertus, just over an hour’s drive from the region’s capital of Turin, is very rural and seems untouched by passing time.

“There are elderly people in our village who cut up wood the way they did all their lives. It is living history,” says Lisa. “It’s not a touristy place at all.”

Lisa runs a blog where she writes about the Chiodo family life in rural Piedmont and their progress with the house restoration. She set up a Facebook group too, where the members share tips and stories about buying homes in Italy and restoring them.

The cost of living in rural Piedmont is a fraction of what they used to spend back home. “We pay about $166 every two months for electricity. In winter, we use a wood burning stove and there is plenty of wood around. In addition, we spend $280 a year on gas bottles for cooking,” says Sam.

They spend less than $114 every two weeks on some basic groceries that supplement the fresh produce from their garden. Two butchers, grocery stores, and a lively local market are just a short drive away in Bobbio Pellice.

The Chiodo family like to treat themselves now and then to delicious homemade meals at one of the local restaurants, paying under $11 per person for a three-course meal. For special occasions, they go to L’Alpina to feast on hearty Alpine dishes where the prices are $23 to $34 per person.

In their spare time, the Chiodo family hop in their camper van and explore the nearby towns of Torre Pellice, Alba, Pinerolo, Fenestrelle, as well as Briancon, which is over the border in France. “We like going to the river near our house in summer for a swim, picnic, and barbecue. On weekends, we often have people coming over to the house.”

There is also a small, friendly expat community, which is slowly growing as more and more expats fall in love with this tranquil, beautiful corner of Italy. Sam and Lisa say they never feel isolated. The roads are good and Turin international airport is only an hour from Borgata Malpertus.

“We love it here. Keeping watch on us all are the Alps above, timeless, majestic. They gently remind us to slow down and enjoy the simple life each day,” says Lisa.

Image: ©iStock.com/Marco Saracco 

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