Category Archives: House Hunting

We have reached agreement!

Big news! We got a call from the immobiliare that he had a response to our offer. We walked over (it is in walking distance). To our surprise, the selling couple, were in the office. I don’t think I have ever met the seller of a property we bought in the US. The first you see of them is when you go to closing. Walter and Marcella. They are super nice folks. And cat lovers!

Anyway, they agreed on the price we offered. The only changes they asked for, were for closing to be two months later and that they keep the big wood stove. That was fine with us and I know the buyers of our apartment are OK with us staying after we close. This will give us the money from the sale here to use on the apartment. I was a bit sad about the wood stove. I guess we will have to buy a new one.

It is a relief. But we still have the move ahead of us! This is uncharted territory, a move! A moving company! And I will definitely want to do some work. I have already decided I want a new kitchen upstairs. There is an itty bitty one in the same place where I’d put the new one so the water and all is there already. It will be open plan to the family room. But I guess I have to wait until we get there to get started. Otherwise I think I will want to have it painted, probably.

Anyway, I wanted to tell all those who read this journal. We now have a hiatus. We remain in our beloved house in Centro through two more seasons. I will enjoy another Christmas here. I will enjoy another Autumn. And then, it will be time for change!

Andrà tutto va bene! 🌈


Amazing weather the last few days. Blessed rain! We have enjoyed it. So have the flowers, crops, animals and birds. It cools things off but it also humidifies things. We had a misty morning with clouds hanging low over the fields.

We have finished looking at the houses we found that were in any way suitable. We have tried new cities. We have pondered. This house will likely be our last house. We are looking at the long term suitability. And, wonder of wonders, we both seem to have decided that Umbertide is our town. For better or for worse. We like the size, we know the ropes, we have friends here. So we gave it one more try to find places in Umbertide to see. Alas, to no avail. We have decided to make an offer on the first apartment we saw. After all that it seems to suit us. It is not perfect. But I can make it my own. A new challenge. If…and only if…we can negotiate a sale. Stay tuned…

House hunting continues…

We are just home from our trip to Spoleto to see two houses. Spoleto is a nice hill town. It takes an hour to drive there from Umbertide.

The first place we saw was a top floor apartment (with lift). It has a large living dining area and a big terrace. The roof/ceiling is pretty unique, it is curved wood. It’s a very nice space. Just my type of house. 2 car garage with storage. Place for my pantry. Needs a new kitchen and a wall removed which is obviously just a glass divider. Easily removed. The master bedroom has a nice ensuite bath with gigantic soaking tub for Luther and its own nice terrace. The only issue is, we don’t like the location. It is a residential neighborhood, which is fine. It has well kept houses and leafy yards but there is nothing walkable nearby. Far from the Centro Storico of Spoleto. Not really what we wanted. But I still like the house. I could make it my own. I will not take this one off my list. Asking price €298K.

Living room with funky fireplace…but a nice great room. Good space.
Big terrace.
Kitchen needs replacing and wall removed, then it would be open to the living area. Out that door is a nice pantry space.
Second terrace off of the master bedroom.

The second house was amazing and I always knew in my heart, it would not be our future home. But I just plain old wanted to see it! It was out in the country (about 12 km from Spoleto so not too far) and no way it would work for us. Small. A nice country getaway place. And spectacular reno of a 13th century building. Yes, that would be built in the 1200s. 😳 So cozy, three fireplaces. We met Fabio, the owner, who was super proud of his renovation. And he should be — it was spectacular. It also had a really nice walled garden. Just the right size.

A little piece of info the realtor gave us. The house is on the ancient Roman road through the Appenino mountains. Hannibal and his army went through here to get to the Adriatic coast way back in the 200s BC. I thought this was very cool. Here are pictures of the house. This one has the asking price of €230K.

View of the house. The round part was a former oven, used by the entire community to bake the bread. Now a bathroom.
Living area.
Kitchen. It had a grill and a wood fired small fireplace. To cook in.
Inside the old forno – oven
Inside the oven, now a bath.
Stairs to the bedroom and bath. Kind of let this one out for me.
The original old Roman road. The house is just on the left. It is a hamlet

I have to admit, the Umbertide penthouse is still in the running for us both. Next up we have an appointment on Monday to see three apartments in Foligno. 🤞🤞🤞

New week!

This will be a little newsy post. This and that. It has been hellishly hot. There is a heat dome over Europe and all countries are suffering. Since air conditioning is not the norm throughout Europe it is even worse than the US. We have two units, one in the living room, and one in our bedroom. In a normal summer, we use these units seldom. This year has been different. It is not a normal summer. We used the bedroom one only once so far. The living room tends to get hot in late afternoon, it has a big roof and the wall with the picture window faces west. So they both catch the full sun all day. The unit is small for the size of the room, but now I turn it on around 1 pm and it keeps the room comfortable. This means we mostly stay inside. We go out early for errands and exercise and then close up the shutters and encave ourselves for the day. I don’t cook a lot in this heat either. We eat a lot of vegetables and salads. If we have fish or meat, it is quickly sautéed. I sometimes prepare cooked things in the early morning which we eat later at room temperature. Caprese salads, gazpacho, and panzanella are my friends!

Today we had errands to do. We had to get cat food and groceries. We had been putting this off as long as we could. We normally go to the Coop in our town for major shopping. It is the biggest store in Umbertide. But it isn’t a super-store. Monday morning would normally be a good day to shop. But today! It was chock full of vacationers who arrived here and need to stock up their homes or vacation rentals with food. This usually happens right around now or in August. The two big months to travel. But I had never seen so many. It must be that pent up desire to travel this year after all the Covid lockdowns. I saw two Belgian cars, five UK cars, four Netherlands cars, one German, and one from France. Wow!
All has not been chores. We were invited to lunch on Friday by good friends who live in the mountains between here and Gubbio. You might remember during my lock-down postings here Jill kept me cheerful by sending pictures of her beautiful gardens. Lunch was lovely as always. The food was yummy and the conversation ranged far and wide. We also met a new friend, Jane. The gardens and the views are beautiful.

On Saturday our friend Doug, who just arrived here to live full time, came up and I helped him fill out his packet and make copious copies of documents needed to apply for the Permesso di Soggiorno or Permit to Stay. A new resident here has just 8 days to fill out and apply for this permit. When a non-EU citizen moves to Italy they must first get a Visa to come here. A good analogy is the Visa is like the taxi that takes you to your house. The PdS is what allows you to LIVE in your house. So the Visa gets you into the country, the PdS allows you to live here. It must be renewed annually and it takes the place of the Visa which never needs to be renewed. Doug has now embarked on the merry-go-round which is Italian bureaucracy. 🙂
House hunting — This coming Thursday we have an appointment to view three more houses. These are in Spoleto. I have high hopes for one of them. The other two depend more on the location than anything else. Watch for a house hunting post later this week!

House hunting

As soon as we sold our apartment, we began to look on-line, not that I hadn’t been, you understand, but now we would want to visit them. This is easier said than done in Italy. It is so hard to get across the different mindsets and work ethics in Italy to my fellow Americans. My Italian friends will understand 😁. They never return emails. If you don’t speak Italian well you can’t really call.

You find a house you like on one of the big three consolidator websites (,, and who list houses for many realtors. They have a link to send a message. So you do, expecting an answer. Hah! I have found the best way to get them to reply is to go directly to their website or facebook page and find a phone number that you can use on WhatsApp. Italians have fully embraced WhatsApp. This doesn’t always work. So, I enlisted the help of our agent who had listed our apartment.

I now have appointments! Or I have received replies, at least. Today we saw the only one I have found in Umbertide that fits our requirements. [Later on this.] We also have three, maybe four to see in Foligno, two weeks from now. I bet most haven’t heard of this town. It’s a good town. Right on the main rail line. It is flat with a nice Centro Storico and a lots of events, no torusits. And I FINALLY heard from the realtor in Spoleto. He has two I want to see. In the next three weeks we should have a good number to think about.

As for today, our first viewing. We do love Umbertide, and we would stay with the right place. This one is outside centro but only about a 10 minute walk, so I could still enjoy the Umbertide markets, if not quite as conveniently. But it IS very convenient to other things. An easy walk to the Coop big grocery. Near the Egyptian food stand (see previous posts), a great butcher, and pasticceria (fresh pasta shop) and a rosticceria (prepared foods). Above our favorite pet shop! 😂 It really has all we would want. It is big, and has an amazing terrace that is completely cat-proofed (the owners have cats), so they can’t get away. Also screens in all the windows. It is the top two floors with elevator and is very private. 190 square meters or about 2,100 square feet (considered very large here). Two gigantic garages, with storage, wine cellar, etc. The kitchen, which is important to me, could use a little something. Otherwise it is move-in ready. The kitchen is well equipped but small and divided with a wall from the little eating area. The refrigerator is in the eating area. If the wall were not there (why a wall!?) then the room would be nicer with room for a nice frig. That would be my one change. Here are a few pictures. There are more but this is good enough for now.

The kitchen should be joined with this room. Why divide it? There would be room for an American size frig. And it would open the space..
The best part of the house. The terrace. There is even an outside kitchen and…wait for it…a wood burning pizza oven!
The owners are lucky we were here during the blooming of the Hydrangeas. So pretty and match the sofa!

It is a first class property with security systems and irrigation of the plants. Cat friendly would be great for our boys.

But I must reserve this one so I can see the rest. I am not so sure Luther liked it as much as I did. Stay tuned. I am hoping to see the next two in Spoleto next week. 🤞


I guess it is time for an announcement. We have sold our home. That’s good, I guess. But still sad for us. The good news is that we sold it to friends! Who will love it as much as we have. Call me sentimental but when I get attached to a house, and I am attached to this one, it matters to me who buys it.

We were already in negotiations with a couple who live in NY. He is a real estate lawyer. We had a zoom showing of our house by our real estate agent, so we virtually met them. Honestly, I didn’t like them…I should say him. She was silent. He was a know-it-all. But he really didn’t have a clue about how things work here. Real estate doesn’t work the same as the US. I love my house, and I love my town. Somehow, this guy just didn’t seem like the right fit to me. They were flying over this coming week to see the apartment. I am sure they would have made an offer. Then…SHAZAM 💥 …I got an email from our friends with an offer to buy. A good offer with time for us to find a place and move. 💕 And I know they will love our place as much as we have.

Now begins our search for a new home. We are starting here in Umbertide. Because we love it here, we are rooted here, we have friends here. There is a place we want to see if the Agent would EVER answer my emails. This is a huge complaint here. The agents just are not motivated or responsive. We have received no reply from the agent. Their office is nearby so we will walk in. I have also sent inquiries to an agent in Spoleto. There are two there that we’d like to see. I also have questions about a third property.

Stay tuned…I will post about the search — if we ever get to see anything 🙄

It was a near thing!

I think everyone reading this knows our apartment is for sale here in Umbria. [Listing] Not that this is new. We listed it about 3 years ago. Things move slowly here during normal times, but two years of this listing time has been severely Covid affected. We essentially lost two years of any possible activity. Now that things are loosening up and people are again out and about and traveling, we are seeing an uptick in interest. I feel certain we will sell this year.

So, anyway, last week we had some folks come look. British expats, they had just sold their big country house here where they had lived for 28 years. I could tell it was hard for them to have given it up. They wanted a smaller ”bolt-hole” as the Brits call it. A place where they could still return to their beloved Umbria, but without the upkeep. A place they could lock and leave. I could tell they really liked our casa. They wasted no time, we got an offer on Sunday. It was a bit low so we countered with what we thought was a reasonable price. Then silence. Finally I wrote the agent to enquire. Turns out, in the meantime, they had had second thoughts. They had wanted to replace their beloved Casa Anna. Buying our apartment would have been like getting married on the rebound. I totally get it. It was probably too soon.

At any rate, the possibility of it happening kind of lit a fire under us for a couple of days, contemplating where we would go – with some panic on my part, I don’t mind saying. The nice thing about the offer was the people were very flexible on the closing date. It would have given us the time we need to find someplace. Anyway, we did some looking during those two days and have a few possibilities. We will definitely start recon in earnest of places we might like to move.

Lunch with Archie yesterday at Calagrana to celebrate the birthday of a friend.

Real Estate in Italy

Real estate in Italy is a totally different animal than in the US. Reasons why:

  1. it is not a good investment. You will be very lucky to recoup your money from purchase and any renovations you do.
  2. you cannot be in a hurry to sell. We are told allow average of 3-5 years to sell here.
  3. Italians and Americans have very different ideas about houses/apartments. What should be in it. How much you should pay for what’s in it.
  4. Italians inherit property over centuries. They all have multiple houses. They do not have mortgages. They do not buy houses because they do not need to. They are house rich and cash poor.
  5. The market is stagnant. Or actually declining.

I tell you this because we have listed our house. Not because we aren’t happy here. It is my dream house. It is just the way I want it. But, being realistic, we are aging and a house on the fourth floor (American), third floor (European) is not optimal for aging in place. There is no possibility of an elevator.

Today we had a nice, young Italian couple look at the apartment. Normally we get English and Americans looking. We have listed at two agencies, one British/international, and one Italian. The couple seemed to like it. It is interesting because all the Italians we know say an Italian would never buy this place. One, because it is too expensive. And two, because it is not to their taste.

I beg to differ on both points. First, we paid €20,000 more than we are asking (!) and we put another €65,000 into its renovation. So, perhaps we paid too much. But getting it with all the bells and whistles for only €230,000 is a deal. Second, we renovated and furnished it with all Italian finishes and products. Our kitchen is manufactured by Pedini — a well known Italian kitchen designer. Our furniture is all purchased here. It is Italian in every way. But maybe a bit more sophisticated Italian than many Umbrians are willing to embrace.

This all said, I am in no hurry to sell. I will be very, very sad to move away from here. And I am not sure where we will go. It all depends on what is available elsewhere when we sell. I have many new friends here in Umbria. A nice support system, and I would miss them. I am loathe to leave it. Except…and it’s a big except…Umbria is not what I call Stranieri (foreigner) friendly. We cannot get a Permesso di Soggiorno (Permit to stay) for more than a year, commonly 2 years elsewhere. We are told we cannot apply for the EU Long Term Residence Permit, supposedly available to all foreigners after 5 years of Residency. Why? It is an arbitrary decision by this region. And no recourse that we know of. So, moving from here could facilitate these things for us. A real conundrum.

Of course, I don’t expect to sell anytime soon. So we aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future. Rest assured, I will continue to write on NancyGoes from whatever location we land in, in Bella Italia. In case you’re interested here is our listing.

Cost of living here in small town Umbria

One thing I have not addressed in this blog is the cost of living here in Umbria. Recently I read a blog talking about the cost of living in Milan. Admittedly, it is less expensive to live there – it’s rated the most expensive city in Italy, than in most cities in the US, but it is still more expensive that many other areas here in Italy. People who are still working and have no choice but to live in a place like Milan do so, but retirees, like us and many people who move here on an ER Visa from the US, do have a choice.

Generally all the northern parts of Italy are more expensive than the south. And of course Tuscany, which has always been a magnet for expats is quite pricy, especially Florence. But central provinces like Umbria, or Abruzzo, or les Marche are a real bargain. They also see fewer tourists and, therefore are more welcoming, in my experience. Umbria is just next to Tuscany and has many of the attributes that attract people there. It has beautiful hill towns, the food is amazing and it has some of the best wines in Italy. It is also known as the “green heart of Italy” because it is in the center, vaguely heart shaped and, being very agricultural, very green. It is also a very traditional area. A little more tranquil and old fashioned.

People have asked me how much things cost here so I will endeavor to list some things.

Buying a house here is not terribly expensive if you don’t want a palazzo or a fattoria in the country with olive groves etc. But I should also say, like anywhere else, there are a wide variety of houses in a large variety of sizes and price ranges. For lower budgets I know of several habitable apartments in our town in the neighborhood of €80-100K. This would be one or two bedrooms and bath(s). A fixer-upper would be much less. Usually houses here are smaller so plan on 800 – 1,100 sq ft for that price. Also a real savings is that you won’t owe any property tax on your prima casa, or main residence. Apartments for rent are very reasonable. An apartment of this size will rent for in the neighborhood of €400-500 a month. Usually it comes furnished. Generally apartments rent with a lease for 4 years with option to extend for 4 years at the same rent. Other option is 3 years with 2 year extension. But you can negotiate. Many times utilities are included in the rent.

Speaking of which, utilities can be expensive here. Houses are rated from A-G for energy efficiency, “A” being the best as far as efficiency goes. Old buildings are notoriously bad with no insulation and thick stone walls which conduct the heat/cold. Our building is about 500 years old and of the later sort. In winter our bills were running in the neighborhood of 240€ for two months. But this past winter we got a 400€ bill (2 months). It was very cold.

Two months of gas

Also most people, including us, use a pellet stove (stufa) to warm parts of the house.

Most places do not have air conditioning. We have two electric units. We don’t use them much so our bills are small. Water is a lot less here, around 20€ for 2 months. We pay 75€ for trash removal twice a year.

At my local Bar/Coffee shop an espresso is 1€. A cappuccino is 1.20€. Compare that to Starbucks! And it is way better. A small beer is 2€. An aperol spritz (mixed cocktail) is 4€. Many bars have happy hour with snacks gratis if you buy a drink.

To buy a basic bottle of wine can cost as low as 3€. Here they also have sfuzzi which are like a wine gas stations! Bring your bottles and fill them for between .80 and 1.30€ a liter! Of course high quality, pedigree wine is more. 12€ or more a bottle.

Eating out
We have several types of restaurants. At a trattoria, which has great local food, you can get 3 courses for around 15€. A fancier Ristorante you will pay more, 5-8€ for an appetizer. 12€ for a steak. Pizza at a pizzeria is around 5-8€ a pie which is more than enough for a person. Contrary to common thought, most places are fine if you ask for a box to take left overs home. You can get just a slice for 1.20€. No tipping here. Round up if you want.

Supermarkets and food shopping.
This is a comprehensive subject and maybe should be a separate post. Groceries are less expensive on the whole. Many larger towns have weekly markets (mercato). The produce is good, fresh and affordable. For around 10€ I can get a big shopping bag of gorgeous produce to last a week. The markets also sell pecorino cheese of all sorts and ages and prosciutto and cured sausages and salami for which Umbria is known. Also a fresh mozzarella man, and my fish lady in her truck. My normal shopping habits are, I shop the two weekly markets, Wednesday and Saturday, for produce, cheese, specialty meats, fish. I shop the butchers, bakers, etc for fresh meats and bread. I only go to the supermarkets for staples like sugar, cleaning products, etc.

Approximate prices at a supermarket: you can get a whole chicken for 3€. Hamburger patties for 1.50€ each. Pork chops for 3€ lb. Steaks for $6 lb.
For fancier things you’d pay.
Veal steaks $8 lb
Beef filet steaks $12 lb
Salmon steaks $8 lb
Ground beef $4 lb
Lamb for grilling $3 lb.

Autos cost about the same here as the US but you must be a resident to buy one. There is an annual car tax as well. Of course I think everyone knows gas and diesel is a LOT more expensive here. Probably 4-5 times the cost in the US.

Internet/satellite TV
Our Skye satellite TV costs 30€ a month. Phones you can top up as you use the service. It is a lot less expensive than in the US. There is a TV tax to pay for public Italian RAI TV rolled into your electric bill. Internet can be rolled into a package with your phone and is not expensive. But it’s not very fast here.

Other travel
Train travel is reasonable. One way to Florence from here is 12€. We take the Frecciabianca from Folognio to Rome fairly often. It’s reasonable (from 16.90€ on the fast Freccia train) and we are in Rome in an hour and 15. Have lunch, shop, come home before dinner. The fast trains (frecce) that run between bigger cities are more expensive and have several classes of seating.

Air travel can be very cheap here. There are a number of discount carriers like Ryanair, Easyjet and Wiz air. Umbria has a small airport but it is limited. We love it because it is so small and easy to use, parking is plentiful and cheap. We use Ryanair out of Perugia for our annual trip to the UK. There are several flights a week. We also flew to Bucharest Romania on Wizair once, just because we could! And there are a couple of weekly flights to Sicily. In summer they add more. Frankfurt, Brussels, Sardinia, Bari. If you shop around and are flexible you can fly for as little as 19€ round trip to Catania or Bari. Our friends go just because it is so cheap. But for destinations farther afield we go to Rome, Florence or Bologna.

So, you decided to move to Italy…

I just put up a page, accessible from the top navigation, with a summary of information about moving and living in Italy. It is called “So you’ve decided to move to Italy”. I will constantly update it with things I learn that I think will be useful. Go to the page here.