Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guardia - The Next Chapter

Oh my goodness, this post is so long overdue!!! The pictures are a collection from 2016 through summer of 2017.  Guardia continues to grow and sparkle... each time I return I am always amazed at the beauty of the town and its people.  Many restoration projects had been beautifully completed and many were underway.

The newly renovated Chiesa di San Rocco

I've been looking back at everything that has happened in Guardia since I first landed here four years ago, It has been a most unbelievable experience!!.. Watching this sleepy little village grow to stardom by appearing in House Hunters International, CBS Sunday Morning, and the NBC Today show.  All of this has been like having a front row seat to the most exciting fairy tale ever!!! .. As you can imagine, there have highs and lows, villains and heroes, high drama, side splitting comedy and above all ..lots of love. (and by villians, I mean in the very amusing way, certainly not anything scary!)

As in some fairy tales, moving forward becomes possible only after making drastic changes. With big changes comes the excitement of new opportunities and possibilities, the anxiety of trying to hang on to the things you treasure that are slipping away, and sadness of letting go of things you've been hanging on to for too long and need to move away from.  .. a little personal, and a little about changes going on in Guardia.

For me with this blog, I've found the need to step back a bit from the endless stream of house hunters arriving to preserve the parts of Guardia that I treasure and love.

Me at the casa!
Laundry day!
My favorite view of Guardia days!
Guardia nights me and David 

The produce store in town.
To all the new House Hunters arriving in Guardia, you will undoubtedly shape the future of Guardia.. I am excited for each of you and hope that  you find what you are looking for, and can appreciate the magical quirky quality of Guardia Sanframondi. Please be respectful of the community that welcomed us with open arms, and remember that we are incredibly fortunate guests. I am forever grateful for finding my own slice of heaven here.

Sunday Market in Guardia

I am not an expert on finding or buying a house in Guardia. There are many who have come after me and each has their own story and a different way of doing things. This is mine, a completely heartfelt blog that includes all my adventures and misadventures of chasing dreams, falling down, getting back up and finding true joy in all of it. Everything I know is in this blog. Starting with my first post in December 2012 and all the 28 subsequent posts throughout the years. I am blessed to have the help and support of the Orso family which continues to help me and many many others navigate the process and find their dream.
Anna, Pasquale and me

For those that want to know a little more about this magical place, and for those of you planning a trip soon, here are some of the welcoming faces that you will find when you arrive in Guardia:

The Jardino at the Tana del Orso Bar

My favorite addition this summer was the Orso's Garden at the Tana del Orso. Owned and run by my favorite family in Guardia ..Pasquale, Luigi and Anna Orso. They recently opened up a garden terrace in front of the B&B and bar. It has a feel of being in a private garden in the middle of the town.  If you peek though the foliage, you get a view of  the Castelo, beautifully lit at night. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine, eat a small bite and on some nights, listen to some live music.

So much fun when 100 Canadians arrive in town for a wedding!! 

Neighborhood grocery store

In Piazza Castelo there is a tiny grocery store behind this large brown modest door.  Inside you will find the sisters Garafano.  They greet everyone with a giant smile and a Ciao!, and will go out of their way to figure out just what you need, (even if you don't speak any Italian). Just like Mary Poppins, they seem to magically have most everything in this tiniest of spaces, and carry a great assortment of deli meats and cheeses.

See the brown doors at the top of the stairs at Piazza Castelo

La sorelle Garafano

I Piacere della Carne - Butcher Shop

Just up the street is on Corso Umberto is the meat market owned by the Sanzari family. They have an amazing selection of the freshest cuts of meat.  Some of our favorite nights in Guardia are spent grilling on the terraza with a good glass of wine.  Gabrielle speaks perfect english and is there most days to help you pick out that perfect cut of meat or recommend something new.

On Corso Umberto across from the Municipio

My favorite butcher Gabby :) all suited up and ready for work!  

Elvio, Ada and Gabby

Yumm,  I see the beginnings of dinner!

La Meridiana Restaurant:

If you are not in the mood for cooking and are looking for a great place for a meal in Guardia, check out the La Meridiana.  Giovanni Sanzari owns and runs this fantastic restaurant and has been feeding hungry travelers for many years.  He specializes in seafood, pasta, pizzas and salads. Everything is always wonderfully served and they have a very nice outdoor patio on Piazza Mercato.
This was the first place we ate four years ago, and they continue to deliver amazing food and service. No visit is complete without filling up at the La Meridiana!

The outdoor patio at La Meridiana

Ciao Giovanni!!

Pasta a la vongole.. one of my favorites!

View of Piazza Mercato from the patio 

Hope to see your friendly faces in Guardia some day soon!

Ciao Guardia!! ci vediamo presto!

Guardia through the vineyards

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Buon Natale and Happy House Hunting from Guardia Sanframondi

Today I received the most incredible Christmas gift from my dear friend. Pasquale Orso. This lovely hand- made tile from San Lorenzello, is in Guardia, and waiting to be installed at the front door of my home!!. Thank you so much to Pasquale, Lilliana, Anna and Luigi Orso for everything you have done for me over the past years. I am eternally grateful for having you in my life. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope to see you all this spring!

Later that same day, I was reminded by a recent post on facebook that it’s been 3 years since I arrived in Guardia, excitedly hoping to find my own dream home in a medieval Italian Village.. and not quite sure what we would find.

Three ago and the beginning of this crazy adventure. (and the beginning of a great friendship!)

..and just like that, I find myself spending the day dreaming about a little town in Italy called Guardia Sanframondi..

Ongoing renovations - pictures by Antonio Lucia Foshini

Phtoto by Antonio Luci Foschini

It’s unbelievable to think how much has changed in such a short amount of time.. in a town where nothing has changed for centuries.  Guardia is going through a period of renaissance and revitalization, with significant restoration projects currently underway in the Centro Historico. Outside investors, locals and the local government has started to appreciate and invest in much needed preservation works and deferred maintenance.

One of the most significant renovations going on right now is the restoration of the Church of St Rocco. (Chiessa di San Rocco).  This octogonal church from the 16th century has been closed to the public for many years.  I am beyond excited to see this treasure brought back to life!  

With 50 houses sold to foreigners in the last few years, it is impossible to think that such an incredible story of rebirth, and growth, could happen without growing pains, and differences in opinions on how this should best be accomplished.

What has made the magical fairy tale like story of Guardia possible, has been the countless, and mostly very disjointed efforts of many many people who all love this special place that want to see it restored and preserved to its full potential.. House Hunters episodes, blogs, facebook sites, government offices .. none of this existed 3 years ago.  The efforts of some would rival the efforts of an entire marketing department of a large company.

The amazing Galleria Pietre Vive (photo by Grazia de Mezza) supports a growing artist community in Guardia - simply stunning!

Studio owner and artist Carmine Carlo Mafei during a live event (photo by Grazia de Mezza)

The story of Guardia so far has been one of passion, determination and endless hours of hard work to ignite the embers of what once was a lifeless, almost abandoned ruin.  Having watched this story incredulously unfold before my very eyes has left me humbled, and incredibly inspired to continue to challenge myself in this life and to never be afraid to dream big.

Rumors of a new House Hunters episode will surely bring a whole new wave of house hunters to Guardia sometime next year. My best advice to the new house hunters is to find out all the information that you can from all of the available sources before you go.  The opinions and advice will vary and at times seem contradictory but each one has its own perspective and a truth in its own way.. I think it’s similar to other experiences I’ve had in Guardia, like walking down one of these beautiful cobblestoned streets...

 Some will notice the beautiful worn marble that can only get that way after centuries of use, the incredible patina of the buildings as they reflect a lifetime of smiles and tears.. and some will inevitably be drawn to the dog poop in the corner J .. it’s all part of the reality.  Get all of the opinions and advice and then form your own opinion. There is no one right way to do this.  Just know that once you get there, it is much easier to do than you can imagine.

A few things you should know..

House prices have gone up.. The $12,000 fully functioning house does not exist anymore! However, the prices are still very reasonable.

People in Guardia are generally honest.  I’ve met almost everyone that bought a house in Guardia.  The houses have sold through different individuals and different processes, but ultimately everyone I’ve talked to was happy with their home and felt that they paid a fair price.  I haven’t noticed that anyone got a particularly good price by negotiating really hard or putting the screws to someone.  That’s not really how they do business here and ultimately you end up offending people that will be your neighbors.. the best approach is to assume people are honest, but don't suspend common sense. Have a lawyer verify any documents you sign, and have an engineer evaluate the property if you’re worried about any structural issues. 

For me (and many others), everything has been possible because I had the good fortune of meeting Pasquale Orso and his family after staying at the Tana DellOrso, (owners of the best B&B in Guardia) on my first trip to Guardia.  Thoughout everything, Pasquale has been my advisor, project manager, and trusted friend. If it seems that I shamelessly plug the Orso family, maybe one day you will have the good fortune of meeting them, and then you’ll understand why.

The first of many nights that we would spend at this table at the Tana Del Orso!

I am very excited and optimistic to see what 2016 will bring to my life and to Guardia. I am hoping that above all else, it keeps its kind and quirky soul.  At this special time of year, I would like to wish all my friends in Guardia and around the world a very Merry Christmas, Buon Natale and a very Happy New Year .. and most of all the hope for Peace on Earth.

- Patsy 

Holiday Calendar of Events in Guardia this holiday season