I’ve received feedback from a few Italians over the years who’ve asked, “Why does every mid-level manager from Milwaukee suddenly want to pick up a hammer, call himself a carpenter, and move to Tuscany?”
Well, it’s true, right? Anybody who reads this blog has probably entertained the same fantasy—including me.
The stories that eventually turn into Hollywood films are always some version of pastoral bliss. A country house with a view of rolling vineyards, quirky but friendly neighbors, and enough Chianti to drown yourself. Sure, there are the comical scenes of roofs collapsing and other reconstruction setbacks. But everybody has a good laugh in the end, and the village residents all come over to welcome their new expat neighbor with baskets full of Italian goodies. Then everybody sits down at a long, outdoor table to savor the bounty of life in Italia. Ahhh…
But wait! What about the permits and the unreliable contractors and the pizzo and the lack of infrastructure and the sudden discovery of an ancient cistern that triples the cost and quadruples the amount of time required? Oh, Hollywood forgot to mention all of that!
Well, suffice to say that both versions have some truth to them, as my guests on today’s podcast episode will share with us. They’ve experienced it all first hand—the tragedies and the triumphs—and now have settled in to a comfortable, fulfilling lifestyle in rural Puglia.
Under the Puglia Sun
Over 12 years ago, while visiting his family in Terlizzi, Puglia, Paul literally stumbled upon a villa in the Italian countryside. It was in ruins. Here was this historic site along the ancient Via Appia Traiana without purpose or life. But there was something magical about the place, so while Paul’s kids ran all over the property in sheer delight, he knew this would be an amazing home someday.
Paul says, “From the moment we stepped foot on this property, we felt the need to restore its soul. In the process, it has restored ours.”
Over the years, Paul and Steven have painstakingly restored this historic villa to the beautiful home it is now. But they didn’t stop there. Surrounded by ancient olive groves, vineyards, and fruit trees, they decided it was time to share all of these wonders with everyone else. That is how Villa Cappelli was born.
Ridiculous Rituals in Italy
This episode of my podcast is actually half of a “podcast exchange” that we did. Recently I was honored to be a guest on their brilliant podcast, where they asked me about one of my favorite topics: Superstitions in Italy.
This always makes for a lively discussion, and inevitably I wind up adding a few more wacky examples to my on-going list. Check out my guest appearance on their podcast here:
Furthermore, my cohorts in expat rebellion (C.O.S.I.) are weighing in on the general topic of “Ridiculous Rituals in Italy,” which has the potential to cover SO many different points, from personal hygiene to food rules to health obsessions, and yes, superstitions.
Here’s my irascible crew for your entertainment pleasure:
- Girl in Florence
- Surviving in Italy
- Sicily Inside and Out
- Sex, Lies, and Nutella
- An Englishman in Italy
Paul and Steven at Villa Cappelli
The conversation also covers the cultural differences between the U.S. and Italy. Paul has a really unique perspective. He was born in Pisa, moved to New York at age seven, spent summer in Italy growing up, then eventually moved back to his mother’s hometown in Puglia.
Steven is more like most other expats who is encountering all of the nuances of Italian culture for the first time. So it was really interesting to hear two different perspectives on the same experience.
I’d like to give a big GRAZIE to Paul and Steven for being on my podcast today, and sharing their passion for Italy with me. If you’re planning a trip to this region, make sure to check out their website which highlights their villa and the surrounding areas in Puglia, as well as an eStore where you can purchase their outstanding extra virgin olive oil.
Click the link to check out other episodes and see my list of the best podcasts about Italy.