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 This is a history of the finding, purchase and re-construction of the Cantinone from 2000 to 2005 in reverse order.

If you want to read the whole history, click here to start at the bottom and scroll your way up.


Christmas 2005


Our first Christmas at the Cantinone is celebrated by the little Christmas Tree, now planted in the garden.

 Our first Christmas at the Cantinone.

Arriving the day before Christmas Eve, it is a big rush to get the supplies in, and a small tree bought and decorated, which we achieved in time for the big day.

Olivia and Paul accompanied us, and with three of us with bad colds (only Ian escaped) we spent a quiet week relaxing and reading in front of the fire.

Highlights were a wonderful day with friends over for a long, long lunch, a drinks party at Anne-Marie's house, a visit to David and Rosie at their house in the Sibillini Mountains, a fabulous pizza at 'Seventh Heaven' and followed by wonderful ice-creams in Jesi.

11th November 2004


We have 10 days over in Le Marche staying at the house, and have a very productive time cleaning the house, fitting lights, installing the washing machine and Shopping!

The weather is wet, windy and cold for the start of our stay. A good opportunity to work indoors. 

We commission the fireplace on our first evening (courtesy of Stan and Jim who kindly provided the firewood, starters and matches). Without the fire I think we would have been a lot less comfortable.

Before we leave again, we host a small aperitif party for everyone involved in the purchase and building of the Cantinone.

The backyard looks so much bigger now that the builders have cleared all the rubbish and rubble.

30th September 2004


We spend three very comfortable nights in our own house, but have to leave all too soon.

This time, maybe, hopefully, we are going to stay in our own house! But, as this had been planned to happen each time we visited since April. we do not hold our breaths. We wait until we actually arrive and see the house before deciding that this time we can stay.

There is electricity, drainage and water (only cold, as there is no gas) but that's enough for us. We make our bed up in the dark on Thursday 30th September a few hours after landing at Ancona. 

On Saturday morning, Stan, Jim, Enzo and Patrick help us move the furniture up from the basement. A few items are damp and some have mould so it was just as well we moved it up now before more damage was done.  

28th August 04


We are into the final phase of construction, the finishing touches. Most of the tiling is complete, the painting is half complete and the kitchen units are installed.

Outside, the outside lights have been put up and we are very pleased with how they look. Ian gets the vacuum cleaner installed and a few light fittings up. But we still have no drainage, electricity, or water connections. 

Our furniture is still in the cellars under the house, and we have checked for damp. We must move them upstairs by the end of September.  

The light fittings on the enclosed patio.

10 - 24 July 04


It was maybe too soon for our furniture to be arriving in Italy, but we had to make the most of it, as it was already on its way over. 

The truck arriving in Tuesday, taking up most of the road.

A fortnight in Italy at our house. The first two week holiday Ian and I had taken since the trip to Umbria in May 2001. We were looking forward to staying in our house for the first time during this trip. We stayed with the Pearsons for a few days, they had a house full from the middle Saturday so we moved out to stay with Erik and Isabel, and with Stan and Jim for some of the time too. We have been very fortunate to meet such wonderful friends.

Unfortunately, not enough was complete before we arrived. There was no drainage, electricity, gas or water connected. The windows were not in, and the house not fully secured.

We were adopted by a tiny kitten who we named Bettini as we first found her crying under a pallet of Marco's tiles.

10 - 13 June 04


Our visit in June was timed for the arrival of the ceramics for the floors and the bathroom walls. All the tiles came from Bologna, from Bettini Tile Services. 

Ian had the task of meeting Stefano the driver from Bologna and helping him unload all the pallets, all 10 of them, in temperatures nearing 35 degrees. The hottest day of the summer so far.


The well arch now has a roof-light: a pleasing result from the partial collapse of the ceiling during renovations.

30 April - 5 May 04



The LandRover made the long journey from Hammersmith to Cupramontana in April 04. 

A second visit in April just a few weeks after Easter. But the difference this time was that we drove the Landrover out to Italy. We took 3 days but could have done it in 2 days if we had kept going on the Saturday. The LandRover behaved beautifully, even forgiving us when we ran it out of diesel. It started again after a re-fill.

The screed has been laid throughout the house, so we really hope that all the pipes for water and electricity have been put in.

As the builders suspected, we have had a small collapse of the arched well roof, resulting in another 'extra' to fix it.

06 - 11 April 04


During the first week of Easter 2004, the Pearson's house in Staffolo was full. Tim and Vaughan, Katie and a friend, Tom, Ian and Jane were all in residence. 

Weather was still cold however, most un-spring like. The trip will be remembered as the fish-dinners trip, it seemed every time we went out to eat, we ate fish! All of it delicious.

Rachael and Simon were celebrating Manon's arrival at Ancona Hospital. Eleven weeks premature and only a couple of pounds in weight but she was doing well.

Internal work on the house was evident in the large amount of white plaster on the walls. Externally, the walls had been protected with the waterproof sheeting and the holes back-filled with gravel.


The scaffolding has been removed from the central part of the house, just the two wings are still surrounded. 

26 - 29 February 04

More pictures

Foggy day in Staffolo 

A freezing cold February week and we are back to look at progress. Fortunately we have managed to replace passports, driving licenses and the digital camera, all within 4 weeks. 

The most obvious changes were the removal of lots of the scaffolds, and the huge plaster silo in the garden.

23 - 27 January 04


There are no pictures from our visit in January. We had been having a wonderful trip, had seen the Cantinone covered in snow as it had been falling for a couple of days before we arrived. We had a great time, meeting up with Stan and Jim for a meal. Second to last day we actually had to leave the rental car up at Stan and Jim's house and walk down to the house, the roads were so bad.

For our final night, we decided to back up Tim's house and go to Jesi. We stayed the night in the Nani hotel, and, thank goodness we did. The rental car was broken into while we ere in a marble factory on the Zipa Estate (a bad area, we found out later!) and Jane's bag stolen. A call to Laura to rescue us - again.

We had only 3 hours to report the loss of our passports, driver licences, Jane's phone, cash, wallets, cards, camera, etc. And get to the airport for our flight home. If we hadn't stayed in Jesi the night before, and the Nani had recorded our passport details, we wouldn't have got home either.

Jane also had a great deal of support from Paul back in the office, looking up contact numbers on the Internet and passing them on to her in Italy. We are so lucky to have good friends who are willing to help out when we get ourselves into these awful situations.

Fortunately UK Immigration let us into the country without passports - surprisingly easily as it turned out.

12 - 16 December 03

More Pictures...

Our last visit for 2003. After arriving at Falconara, and calling into the Irish Bar for a short while, we got to the house at around midnight. Eager to see the new roof, we looked over the house by torch-light. Suddenly we were aware that there was more light at the front of the house, where our rental car was parked. The local Cupramontana Carabinieri had noticed intruders, or had been alerted that there was someone poking around the site. 

In best (worst) Italian Jane tried to explain that we were actually the owners, and having just landed, wanted to see progress.

However, it is very pleasing to see that the local police will respond, if the house is being 'intruded'.

Just before Christmas, and the  roof is on the rear section

7 - 11 November 03 

More Pictures...

We are back again 4 weeks after the last visit. On first arriving at the Cantinone our impression is there doesn't seem to be much progress! The arches around the patio are complete, and the walls of the re-built part of the house are now up to roof level, but there is still no roof on the second part.

We then notice that they have started on the re-pointing of the stonework at the rear of the house, a time-consuming task. It looks really good, not too perfect and has managed to retain the old feel of the original walls. 

It was wonderful to stay at Tim and Vaughan's house this time too. Their house is comfortable and so quiet at night - as London inhabitants we are not used to such peace and quiet! 

1 - 5 October 03

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We are surprised to find that some work was carried out in August after all, and plenty achieved in September too, so there are two 'Misure' for us to pay this time, numbers four and five. We don't mind however, because so much has been done. For the first time EVER we can walk out of our kitchen into the dining room, as there is now a floor to the rooms to the back of the kitchen. 

We are really pleased with the work completed, especially the great job they have done on the new stonework. It is going to look a little 'newer' than the original part of the house, but that seems unavoidable.

On this visit, we stay at Tim and Vaughan's

house in Staffolo and have a great time at the Cupramontana Feste d'Uva or grape harvest festival.

Floor is installed for the dining room, patio and spa. Walls are up to the top of the doors and windows level.

August & September 03 In Italy, all work stops for the month of August when everybody takes a family holiday and goes to the beach. We don't expect anything to be done until September, so we plan for the next visit at the end of September.

19 - 24 July 03

More Pictures

The centre frontage still looking like a building site

Time for the third progress payment and we went for 6 days away in Le Marche. 

The stairs have been re-installed, and the floor of the ground floor apartment in the west-end cantinone has been built. At the back of the house there is good progress on re-building the old cantinas which had been demolished.  

We have planned to be in Cupramontana at the same time as Tim and Vaughan Pearson and their two daughters Kim and Katie will be in their house in Staffolo. The Pearsons are expecting their furniture to arrive from England during this week, and we give them a hand unloading the lorry. Then we help getting the lorry out of their garden, when it got stuck! In typical Italian style, the local farmers lend a hand to remove the removal truck, but the story goes all around the town like wildfire.

27 - 28 June 03

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A quick one-day visit by Ian, flying out on Friday night after work and back on the Saturday night. Ian makes the second-stage payment, and to receive details of the third payment which will be due end of July.

Progress is rapid and we can see great advances. The interior stairs are demolished, the first floor has been removed and re-built and the roof over the wing of the house facing the road has been reconstructed.

      The roof is re-built and the original tiles are sitting waiting for re-laying.

24 - 28 May 03 Visit in late May to see the first of the progress on the house.  Richard and Lynette visited Italy over the same weekend and we took the opportunity to go to Assisi with them for a day trip. 

First payment is made to the builders!

17 April 03

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It is Easter, and after a lovely spell of weather for the whole of March, in the UK it looks like a wet and cold Easter break. We are very happy to be headed off for Le Marche for 4 days. We can't wait to see what the builders have done so far, and go directly to the house from the airport. 

It is dusk by the time we arrive at the Cantinone, but we can get onto the site and can see that the crane has been erected, the entire old part of the Cantina, which was crumbling and very derelict has been completely demolished to ground level. We are quite astounded with how much has already been done in only 4 weeks. 

We stay at the local Agriturismo, La Distesa, and meet up with Philippo and Gillian who have bought a house in Morro d'Alba, and their friends Franko, Ros and son Allessandro, all from Northampton.

At the agriturismo La Distesa in Cupramontana.

17 March 03

Work has started. We haven't seen it yet, our next visit will be at Easter. Tim and Vaughan were in Italy earlier this week and kindly gave us a progress report by phone, and took some pictures of the scaffold, crane and cleared land. We have our own road-signs to warn traffic that there may be large vehicles maneuvering on the road.

28 February 03

Rapid trip over to Le Marche for Jane on her own. Ryanair ticket booked up at the start of January while the ticket prices were low, but without the knowledge of business trips to Hong Kong and to Paris, both in February. 

The builders haven't started, so no progress, but managed another meeting with Claudio and also meet the Manager of the building firm, Claudia.

Jane visited Tim and Vaughan's house. It is looking vastly different to the last time we saw it. The windows are all out, floors are up, a huge hole knocked between the two big rooms on the ground floor.

Phoned through to Tim with an update, and Vaughan phoned me back with specific questions. I took a bunch of photos for them and sent them up to them on my return.

Glad my visit was of some use, to someone!

23 January 03

Winter sun! January, and the weather is glorious!

Off to see the house just before the builders start - they anticipate to commence clearing down the vegetation sometime mid-February. Our plane is diverted to Pesaro, 110 kms south of Ancona, but, since we have not yet organised a hire car at Ancona, we just get a rental and head north.

We meet our friend Bill at Pesaro airport who tells us Tim and Vaughan are on the same flight. After calling at their house and confusing their builders, we finally make contact by mobile phone thanks to Katie in the UK, and meet Tim and Vaughan for drinks. So nice to meet kindred spirits!

December 02

At last! We have the plans and detailed specifications from Claudio.

We have quotes from two building companies, and choose EdilMeda from Cupramontana. Two good reasons, 1) they are a local building firm, and our house is very prominent on the way to Cupramontana; 2) the boss is a lady, Claudia.

So now we have Claudio and Claudia looking after our project. We sign up.

We hear about another English couple buying at nearby Staffolo, Tim and Vaughan Pearson. We make contact by email and phone when we get back to London.

The western end of the house, and the back garden.

November 2001 - 

November 2002

This is one of the original kitchens in the house (there were two). 

The year was taken up with plans, planning permissions and surveys with Simone Oresti, but they were taking a little time, and we felt Simone might be located too far away from Cupramontana. Also, all our new friends were telling us that we really didn't need an architect, we needed a 'geometra'.


A breed of draftsman, quantity surveyor, site manager, and someone to do all the difficult things with the comune (local council). And someone local, someone who knows the local suppliers, builders and councillors at Cupramontana.


And most importantly, someone personally known to Guiseppe (Luca's father - a retired builder)! We meet and commission Claudio Tittarelli, a geometra based in Jesi to carry on the planning permissions, engineering surveys, detailed specs and a hundred and one other tasks.


We depend very heavily on Luca and Laura for translation, and for generally helping us out at the Marche end. I don't think it would have been possible without them, at least not so straight-forward.

11 October 2001

We are back again the following month to complete the purchase, at the 'atto' or rogito. Again Paradise Possible are there at the notary office to see us through the sale. But perhaps this visit was, as well as being the point of no return, also the turning point in how things were going to turn out for us over the next two years.

So we went to the pub.

But not just any pub, not just the pub nearest to the hotel we were staying in, the Hotel dei Nani in Jesi. We went to the Irish Bar and met Luca. Through Luca and Laura we met a lot of the people we now know in Jesi and Le Marche, their welcome and friendship was as valuable as it was appreciated by us both.

We engage Simone Oresti as architect on our project.

Street in Jesi, about 25 kms away from Cupramontana
Jesi, near Luca's flat in the historic town centre.

08 September 2001

, The money (mostly in Lira) to buy the Cantinone.

The offer is accepted and we are off to Ancona for the 'compromesso' the first stage of purchase. The deposits are paid, and it will cost us dearly to back out now! Again, Paradise Possible support us, attending the compromesso to make sure it all goes as smoothly as it humanly can.

All the checks on the property were now done by the notary, he checked that the current owners have the right to sell (not always straight forward under Italian inheritance laws) and that the adjoining neighbours do not wish to buy the property, since currently it is agricultural land.

We have our first meetings with an architect from Macerata, Simone Oresti. Simone explains the long, expensive task of getting engineering surveys and planning permissions.

August 2001    

Oh! The agonizing, the sleepless nights, were we too  late, were we rushing in to this? Had we really thought this through? Would the house eventually be worth the considerable amount it was going to cost to restore?

Would we get planning permission, and would a pool in the back garden slide down the hill after the first heavy rain-storm?

How much would it cost to restore? We had been given a rule of thumb which said four times the purchase cost for a total re-build, but surely we were not looking at a total rebuild?  Maybe we were - better take worst case scenario and then add 25%! Looked like we could do it - just - with our current resources. We decide not to borrow or get a mortgage so we could move into the new house debt free but it meant finances would be very tight.

We put in our offer to buy and held our breaths.  Everybody at Paradise Possible were supporting us all the way, hoping our offer would be accepted.

28 July 2001

Were we really serious about this house? We needed to go and look at it again, and to see some others. After all, on the first visit we had seen seven houses all at different stages of renovation. 

Paradise Possible met us on our visits to Le Marche to visit 6 - 8 properties each time, assisting us finding accommodation. With Paradise Possible's help, we went over to look at more properties from the Monte Sibllini in the south up and towards Pesero. All areas of Le Marche were covered and evaluated for their business potential. In the end we knew that access to motorways, the airport, seaside and mountains would give us the best opportunity for the business venture we planned, a Bed and Breakfast.

We had already fallen in love with the Cantinone, and the lifestyle in Le Marche. There was no going back. Grazia and Guiliano at Paradise Possible saw us through the entire process and in the end they were as keen that we had the house, as we were! We remain grateful for their valued help, and friendship.

Before the compromesso or atto, the Cantinone already felt like it was ours.

20 May 2001

We had searched the internet and found several houses on the Paradise Possible site.

We contacted them by email and started a conversation with them about our plans and dreams of living in Italy. They did much more than merely send us details of properties, they talked with us about our aspirations and plans for a business in Italy, the pros and cons of the various areas of Le Marche (as they covered the whole of the region) gave us information about commercial and tourist initiatives available for people planning to live and work in Italy, and about grants available for restoring historic buildings. 

On our first viewing, Grazia met us at the property, showed us all over the accessible areas and gave us an insight into the history of the building.  Then we went on to see 7 more properties all in a day.


The first sight of I' Vecchio Cantinone.

16 May 2001

More Pictures

A year later and we return to Italy on holiday again to Sant Antonio, this time with Leigh (Jane's sister) her husband Horst, mad Australian friend Russell and sane wife Robyn, Carole (Robyn's sister) her husband Bruce, Kevin (who knows the words to every song from the 60s onwards) Kevin's wife Barbara, and Leigh and Ian Vibert from the valley.

With 9 kiwis, 1 each of Aussie, Brit and Austrian but not a teetotaler amongst us, it was a wild couple of weeks.

We had a week first in Umbria at Bel's house in Cannara, near Assisi. It was while we were here we went house hunting for the first time. Before the holiday we had arranged to see houses in Tuscany and in Umbria, but all were either too much of a ruin, too expensive, too far from the sea, or in displaced British communities - not the rural Italian paradise we were looking for.

However, this was a useful learning time for us, we learnt what we didn't want!

Sant Antonio, Tivoli near Rome

June 2000 - April 2001 We started our planning: could live in Italy? When could we afford to go, and of course the big questions, how much could we afford for a house, and what were we going to live on when we got there?  We knew we wanted to 'retire' or should I say 'go and live somewhere else and work just as hard - but on our own terms'.

We quickly new that we would need a house that could also return an income to allow us to live in Italy probably for the next 10 to 15 years until our pensions started, we knew we wanted better weather, and we knew we wanted an unspoilt, undiscovered part of Italy but we had no idea what style of house we wanted to end up with, or how to make it all happen.

We hadn't even yet started to think about restoration versus a restored house, I think we were still in the dreaming stage.  There were many lessons to be learnt some the hard way, before we had answers to all our questions.



30 May 2000 Where our adventure started.  

We went on holiday to Italy with a group of our friends, some of whom were colleagues from British Airways. The holiday was to Tivoli just outside Rome, staying for a week in Sant Antonio a villa just outside Tivoli which has Roman foundations and a nymphonium.

It was probably during this holiday that the thought of living in Italy really started in our minds.

However an incident with a rental car (refusing to start) showed us how little Italian language we knew, so the Italian lessons started in September.

       The (poor) owners.