By now it is already 10 years ago that Hester and her husband Ron decided to give Umbria a try. They now enjoy their stunning home up in the hills near Todi. An oasis of peace and tranquility but at the same time a delightful home to enjoy with friends and family. This is their story.
With both of them having a career in full bloom life was pretty hectic and involved lots of travelling. Days would rush by full of meetings, international flights, living in Holland and New York simultaneously, emails and all other work related activities. Though they created that life themselves they also realised how much they actually liked the idea of having a place away from it. A place to come home to, far from the hustle and bustle, a shelter to relax and unwind.
After years of not being satisfied with the promises of tour operators or the price-quality ratio accommodations they decided to opt for a dwelling of their own and so a second home. Another advantage is that it allows them to escape whenever they feel like it. Without having to prepare, think of reservations, availability or anything else they simply hop over to Italy and start their down time. Even for just a week, which happens more frequently as the world and work becomes ever more digitalised.
For the couple Italy was the only logical choice. The way Italy has played a central role in Europe’s history for centuries, the way that it’s still visible everywhere you turn, the culture in general, for them no other country would ever be as interesting as Italy. Then one day in 2007, while on the road with friends in Umbria, they encountered a builder who showed them an old farmhouse perched high upon on a ridge. With a stunning view on one side and very pleasant green valley with another great view on the other side it’s easy to understand they fell for it. The volume was large enough to create the home they imagined, the characteristics of the local buildings appealed to them…. and that’s when their dream became reality.
Hester adds that she feels it may have made a difference that they already had the experience of living abroad. The need to adjust to a different way of life, new people, places, customs and language. One could choose to create a little Dutch (or other nationality) island within Italy but for sure you will a more complete experience while engaging in all possible ways. Speaking the language of course makes all the difference. They have Italian friends and take part in the local social life. They attend weddings and other events, enjoy the food, gorgeous sceneries and especially the possibility to tour and discover new exciting places at a convenient distance.
The two now still live in the Netherlands but come to Italy as often as they can and spend about 4 months in Umbria each year. They love to take care of the garden, do work around the house, cook and hop in their stylish pool when it’s hot. They explore the region and thanks to the separate quarters having guests over is a pleasure. Even though they sometimes bring their work with them it all seems to require less effort under the soothing Umbrian skies.
With regards to practical things they are grounded as only the Dutch can be. Every can be organised and yes, sometimes things take more time than they would in Holland but that’s not a problem whatsoever. Why should it? Slowing down to the Umbrian rhythm is a good thing for the mind. Finding someone for maintenance or garden work is their small community not a problem. People in Umbria are very open, helpful and friendly. They have never felt unsafe or know of any reason why they should. Hester says she knows anything can happen anywhere and so why worry here more than she would anywhere else. Has there been a downside to Umbria, their property or living here part-time we wonder? “Hm, well, it takes a couple of hours to get here”, Hester smiles, “but that’s really all I can think of!”
What the future will bring no-one knows and they hope they will be able to keep coming home in Umbria for many more years to come. Should however one day someone pop-up and do a good offer on their house they might consider selling it. “We want to avoid starting the process of selling too late and find ourselves stuck with the property by the time we are as ancient as its foundations. We love it, but we like to be realistic. By the time we will need care ourselves we consider it best to be back in Holland.” And for now they will simply relish their fantastic second home and continue making beautiful memories to look back on.