I looked at lots of apartments in Perugia last winter. As a foreigner it’s the easiest thing in the world to get the attention of anyone selling real estate in a town like Perugia. Thing is, they just don’t know who they’re dealing with. And in this market they just can’t risk not taking you seriously. Not that I was entirely kicking tyres mind. For years the idea of owning a bolt hole in Perugia or round about has seemed like the panacea for all my long distance anxieties. Surely owning a piece of the action would calm my nerves. Give me the sense that, whatever else happened in between, that one of these days I would have a home to go to. And then there were those prices. Gia’ erano bassi l’anno scorso, ma ora…. Maybe this was as low as they’d go. Just maybe, if I pushed and pulled and coerced really hard, the planets might just align and I could bag myself a bargain as well as a dream. The Australian dollar was up. It had to be worth a look.
And it didn’t take me long to fall in love. A certain monolocale, in Piazza Raffaello, and a stone’s throw from Corso Vannucci would have been the second apartment I saw no less. The lovely agent Stefano was new to selling houses and di conseguenza a wonderfully down to earth man. He could see how keen I was. And because my heart’s desire had also caught the eye of a couple from Rome he insisted, ancora rimanessi delusa, on showing me everything else on his books. For the next week I left like I was on location for one of those Place in the Sun/Relocation Relocation shows. We met vendors, tenants, heard stories of the houses and even more about the people who live there. Why they came to Perugia and why they’re moving on. I had no idea buying real estate in Italy was such an intimate affair. In Piazza Matteotti one morning I even saluted a Signora who’d shown me through her mother -in-law’s flat the day before, before I could remember who she was. But Perugia’s always a bit like that.
We saw so many apartments and I learnt so much. But nothing came close to those 35 m2 with balcony in Porta Sole with view of Assisi and Monte Subasio for under euro 100k if I’d played my cards right. As things went, it was all too good to be true that time around. I kept the photos though. And the dream. I had that place all kitted-out in my head along with the ad for my niche of sabbatical-takers and other long-term escapees looking to live the real Italy. I knew I could sell Perugia better than anyone. That part was going to be easy. All I had to do was pick and chose the blocks in between clients when it’d be my turn to stay. I still think I’m on to something. Meanwhile I know I can trust Signor Stefano to keep me posted. And with the patience of a saint, dear man. Kirsty and Phil, take note.