I had been searching for a year for a property close to Lake Bracciano near Rome. My decision was made after two amazing trips to Rome in 2013, it was clear to me that Italy was my chosen country to buy a second home. I have spent a lifetime searching for the place I most want to be, rather than the place I have to be. At 52, single again, after 30 years and with my two children, the time was right for me.

It was the very early on a Sunday morning on 26th October 2014 when I found my little house. It was really by accident. In the last months my Mother had sadly died and I was in a state of grief, I had put life on hold. However going through the day to day motions of living and really not thinking so much, I found myself looking on the website I had been using for the last year in my search for a home in Bracciano. This time I widened the search. My criteria was to find a small house that was in sound condition that I could make nice with a little bit of work. It had to be near a lake and it had to be within a village or town, it also had to be beautiful. If it was near an airport this would make it accessible and a good road or train network would be essential.

There it was, photos of the house, the lake. The small convenient size, the original features of the ceilings and floors. I was sitting up and paying attention! Within minutes I had looked more on to the internet to see where the village and the lake was situated in Italy. Within an hour I had contacted the estate agent and asked the main questions regarding the condition of the house. I had carried out some internet research for the area, to find out as much as I could.

A reply came quite fast from the estate agent with all the right answers. By the next evening I had arranged a flight to see the house for the 10th November. The estate agent asked me if I wanted to see others, I looked at the selection, I chose one other to be polite, but it felt clear to me I had found my house.

I came into the village a day early on the Sunday November 10th. As I was driving on my journey to the village my breath was taken away by the sheer beauty of the area. Mountains and sea both together at one point of my journey. It felt too good to be true. When I came around the corner and the village was visible, it felt like I had arrived in Paradise. I honestly could not believe how beautiful the village looked. On arrival, I felt the sense of delight as I walked through the small network of streets throughout the village. I saw the men talking on the Piazza, the smell of good home cooked food rising through the streets, the people coming out of the church.

The next morning I was due to meet the estate agent, again I came early, this time I met and spoke to the people I saw, I used my very poor Italian which amounted to no more than about 20 words. This included a very interesting conversation with the men that morning who were all clustered around an APE van with at least 20 pots of sand. To start I thought it was a building project and they were comparing the sand for the best to use, but it turned out to be pots of germinating asparagus! To this day they will all remember that time when that strange English woman was asking about what they were doing.

When I saw the house I was completely sure, it was everything and more than I could have wished for.

In less than a month the 10th of December I had the key and the house was mine.

It had not been an easy journey from Vasto and I was totally exhausted from a busy week at work. When I finally arrived I had no electricity, water and it was just about to be a holiday weekend. Within minutes of arrival my neighbour had brought me a camp bed and put an electric extension cable through to allow me to see. By Saturday morning the police man had come to help by putting on the water for me and he arranged for a man to bring me some wood (it was that or freeze) and by the Tuesday I had power that was brought through the street from a neighbours house (directly across from my house) via assistance from the local building firm.

Within a few months the house was transformed from empty house needing love to a beautiful home with furniture and all the help I could possibly ask for. At one point during the work there was at least 4 men in the bathroom singing together while they worked. I am very grateful to those who made my house so beautiful.

Abruzzo has changed my life beyond my wildest dreams. I could never have believed the changes it has brought to me and my life. It has made me think very differently about the future and how I will enjoy both life in the UK and at my little house. I have also been exploring my love of painting and art which I hope to pursue and maybe exhibit and sell one day in the UK and Italy. Currently

Zoe Adams In love with Abruzzo!

my plan is to spend six months in UK and 6 months in Abruzzo. It is my hope that my friends and family can stay in the house and that they too can enjoy the village.

The greatest gift of all has been Emilia my next door neighbour aged 84. We have found a bond of love that has been with us from the start. We have spent many hours together and despite our differences in language we manage easily to understand each other. I have heard many wonderful stories from her about the times when she was a young woman. She is never short of things that we can do together to enjoy. Emilia is a remarkable woman and I feel the luckiest woman in the world to be her neighbour.

For a foreign woman arriving in a new village alone I have been totally amazed by the kindness and help and welcome I have received had from everybody. I have immersed myself into the life here and although I have had many challenges and it has not always been easy for me its been an adventure and a truly wonderful experience that I know I will continue to enjoy for many years to come.

Viva Italia viva Abruzz

Image: Abruzzo, Italy by Catherine Wilson https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ no changes made