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  • Wendy Byard

Cera Una Volta - Once Upon A Time.....

Once upon a time, in the heart of rural Italy, there was an abandoned cottage at the end of a lane. The place had stood still, forgotten, no soul had stoked its fire or slept under its roof and dreamt of the future for over 40 years. But then, one day, a traveller and adventurer fell in love with its wooden shutters and its terracotta floors and decided to make this place her own.....and magic happened.

Wendy Byard - Life in Italy

That was 14 years ago, and now how things have changed for that little cottage in the mountains.

We all have dreams. Mine was to have a house in a foreign land. I believed that was France, but by chance, I found myself in the Italian countryside.

It took two years before I could move in properly. In that time, tonnes of earth were excavated from around the walls. The kitchen, with its fireplace where once lamb was cooked in the grate, was turned into a living room. Water and electricity were connected, and for the first time, the cottage had a bathroom. The roof leaked, the windows rattled, and it was cold in the winter. But, little by little, the little cottage started to become a home again.

There are lots of challenges when renovating an old property. There are no foundations, which means the old stone walls move with the weather. Cracks appear when the soil is baked hard, then seal up again when the ground is soft from the rain. Everything has to be flexible to accommodate mother nature.

The house, built by its previous owners, was positioned to take full advantage of the sun. Long tall windows face south; none face north, the fierce winds from the mountains are too cold. In the past, one side of the window had glass, the other a wire mesh. This allowed ventilation when it was hot, without admitting biting insects through the open windows. Not ideal in the winter, but the internal wooden shutters, helped keep the draft out a little; today glass and air-conditioning make it comfortable.

But, it's the little things....the hand-painted lines and the old tile on the ceiling, that show that this house was loved just as much by its previous owners as the current one.

For fourteen years I've loved this place. Times haven't always been easy, but my little house on the side of the mountain has helped me discover a new way of living. Time for becoming me; no rush, no musts or shoulds. It's also taught me that nothing is perfect. Lots of things wobble, crack, don't quite fit, but that's all part of the charm. And that applies to life too. I'm not a new build, bright, shiny and new. I've weathered with age, but I am unique, and I'm happy with everything around me.

Ever wanted to retreat to Italy and experience 'La Dolce Vita' for yourself?

If so, why not join me for one of my retreats (either virtual or in person) visit and sign up for more info.


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