Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Its Finally Time to Get Back to Guardia!!

The summer plans to go to Guardia have had to go on the backburner for a little while as I've had a crazy year of major milestones going on in our family and a hectic work schedule .. but we've finally nailed down our dates and are so excited to be heading back to the Guardia  in the next month, and plans are starting to get into high gear!

Scene from the backside of Piazza Croce

I've had a little work done on the house while I've been gone, nothing major, but needed to retile the terrace that was old and leaking, and move the washing machine upstairs to the kitchen. First there was an evaluation by an engineer who determined the terraza leak was caused by inadequate drainage. 

The before Leaky terraza

A solution was proposed and I was sent pictures of tile samples,

tile samples

a detailed budget, and drawings of what the repairs would entail via email. Once we agreed on the price and design, the project was started shortly after. I would receive daily pictures of the progress. 

Before and After

Thanks to Pasquale, my project manager and Benny, who was in charge of the work. The project was completed under budget within a week’s time. I cannot believe how great it looks!

From the Terraza to the Kitchen

Beautiful flowers and pictures - Thanks Guy Ranzino!!

In the past few months, we've had different friends stay at our home in Guardia. They’ve sent me some wonderful pictures that have really warmed my heart and at the same time make me wish I could jump on a plane tomorrow and just be there!

Welcome to Casa Kestler!!

Staircase to the Kitchen & Terraza


How this house was supposed to be enjoyed!! With good friends & wine - Thanks Liz Canestra!!!

.. and so the vacation count down begins!! 

The list includes..

  • A day trip to Capri
  • The ruins of Herculaneum & Mt Vesuvius
  • Visiting the Adriatic side (Bari or Termoli)
  • Picking grapes - Its Vendemia!!!
  • Enjoying good food, wine and laughter with our friends in Guardia!! 

Ci vidiamo presto Guardia!!  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

House Hunting - A Summary

House Hunting in Sanframondi Guard - A Summary

I think it's probably a good time to recap some of the information That I have in this blog since it's become a bit scattered Throughout the blog.

To get started on your house hunt, there are no realtors to contact, and so there is not a lot That You can do in advance of your trip other than a bit online network (Which I'll explain further Top down)

To get started:

1 .  Book your flight (2 Options) 

  • Fly to Naples - 1 hour away. Pros: much closer, Cons: not as many flights / connections, and the traffic getting out of Naples in a nightmare 
  • Fly to Rome - 2 hours away. Pros: cutting easier access to the airport and more flights. Cons: longer distance to travel

2. Book a room at a local B & B (2 Options).

  • My preferred location is the  Tana Dell Orso  owned and operated by Pasquale Bear and his family.
    You can reach him through the contact B & B website Directly or through email at His  bbtanadellorso@gmail.com    The Tana Dell Orso is walking distance to everything in the Guard and Has all the conveniences of AC / Heat / Wifi and private bathroom. The Tana Also Has a local cafe / bar and is a great place to grab a quick bite, a cup of espresso, or Luigi's homemade wine (Which is everyone's favorite!).
    Being in the cafe, puts you in direct contact with the local people and makes you feel connected to the town the minute you walk in the door. Another benefit to staying there Is that for me and others, we have found Easter to be incredibly helpful, with great advice on the house hunting process, and being Able to connect us with people interested in selling Their houses. The Bear family are some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet!
  • The other good option is to book a guest room at  Arthouse Clare  . run by Clare Galloway, Scottish Artist That Has Made Guard home.  

3. Decide on how to get to the airport from the Guard (3 Options);

Listed by least expensive to most expensive .. as with most things .. a tradeoff between convenience and cost. Always good to have options ...

  • Take a combination of buses and trains from Rome or Naples to the Guard. Attached is a link to  Clare's Galloway's website  where she offers a budget friendly option on traveling to Guard from either airport. The guidebook costs 4 Euros, and the travel cost ranges from 17 -28 Euros. Pros: the most cost effective method. Cons: it takes quite a bit longer as the bus and train schedules do not always line up with your arriving and departing flights. You may need to plan on 2 extra days of travel (one day one day coming and going) and long waits between the connections.
  • Rent a car. (This is my preferred option). Costs about 30 Euros per day + insurance + gas. With a GPS system, its pretty easy to navigate. I highly recommend if you rent a car That You bring or rent a GPS system. If you think you are going to buy a map and find your way around .. good luck! You will spend half of your time trying to figure out what road you are on. If you get a GPS, get One That Will warn you of speed traps and traffic cameras. My husband got Leadfoot 8 tickets last year, and they all arrived in the mail to our home in the U.S. months after our visit. The tickets arent terribly expensive, but they add up. (The Garmin Nuvi 2577 LT free lifetime traffic comes highly recommended, preloaded with Europe and North America. I plan to buy one for my next trip.) Getting out of Rome from the airport is very easy! The rental cars are right at the terminal and you can get out of the city easily on major freeways. Getting out of the Naples airport is a bigger challenge. The Naples airport is a bit more chaotic to drive out of .. the traffic is thicker and not for the faint of heart Unless you know what you're doing. Pros: you can do a bit of exploring outside of the Guard, plan some day trips to the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, etc. Cherreto.; Minimizes your travel time. Cons: You have to be prepared to drive a standard car (very few automatic cars and you may pay extra), traffic can be a bit stressful for Those not used to driving in a different country, and once you are in the Guard, you don 't really need a car since everything is just a walk away.

  • Hiring a driver to pick you up from the airport. If you contact Pasquale above, he will arrange for someone to pick you up at the airport for $ 300 Euros each way from Rome, $ 150 Euros each way from Naples. People gasp When They see the cost, but there is not enough business to make this a full time job, and to go to Rome at the crack of dawn and pick someone up at the airport, wait on delayed flights, pay for the gas, tolls, wear and tear on the car and occasional tickets, it's just a service I have not found anyone wants to do for less money after they've done it once. Someday there may be a transportation service to and from the Guard to the airports .. but they are not there yet .. baby steps. Pros: The convenience of not having to worry about traffic or rental car agencies once you arrive jetlagged. Cons: obviously the cost, and not having a car at your disposal (not an issue if you are on a house hunting mission). 

4. Now that you've Decided when you're going and how you're getting there .. network as much as you can . The people of the Guard are avid facebook fans and with the help of google translator to the Fact That You do not speak English and they do not speak Inglese is not an insurmountable obstacle. Be prepared, That not all things translate well through google translate, but enough to start a dialogue and make contacts. Its ok to ask questions in Inglese and they will Likely Respond in English.

Here are some of the best contacts I've found on facebook (please let me know if I am missing some)

  • Guard S. Norman    - aka Roberto knows of many houses for sale in the Guard, and Has Helped at least 20 people I know to find a home in the Guard. 
  • Guard Rennaisance  - a page devoted to promoting growth and revival in the Centro Historico of the Guard
  • Sanframondi Guard  - a page devoted to general information about Guard
  • Comune Di Guardia Sanframondi  - The City Government Page with local events and general information

  • Feel free to contact me (Patsy) at guardiasanframondi@gmail.com - I may not always have the answer, but can point you in the direction of someone who might have the answer.

5. Network as much as you can, but the house hunting begins when you finish arrive and can actually look at the houses .. They come in so many shapes and sizes and states of repair. It is impossible to get a sense of These houses from pictures alone.

I'll continue adding to this document to give you some idea of ​​the actual house closing process. It is not always the same, but everyone found That house has managed to close in on Their houses with a sense of wonderment That actually worked it all out .. I think it's part of the charm and magic guard .. each house has Its Own story!

You do not have to bring the money with you if you plan to buy something. Once you find your home, you will sign Likely to "compromise" similar to an offer letter and you will be asked to pay a deposit. The amount always varies, but most people wire the money Directly to the seller's bank account after they return home. The final closing is usually you months (or up to a year) later once the title is cleared and you sign "the acto." The closing costs are similar to what you pay in the U.S. (filing fees, title searches, etc..) + A onetime 10% tax on the value of the house.

I hope you find this information helpful. This is so far, the collective opinions of many who not have been down this road in the last year. You'll find it's really not that difficult once you get started!  

Happy House Hunting! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Guardia Welcomes the World..

This is where I like to spend a few minutes every day!  (Thanks for this treasure Elizabeth C.!!)

I feel like my adventures in Guardia are starting a new chapter.  I'm no longer House Hunting or getting things set up.  I'm back in Texas, working and raising a family. Yet every day I talk to neighbors and friends that live in Guardia or have purchased a home in Guardia.. always getting the latest updates and news, responding to questions from people interested in going to Guardia to find their dream home, or simply planning my next trip. In some way, I feel like I manage to spend at least a few minutes every day in Guardia, this wonderful place that brings constant little snippets of serendipity to my daily routine of traffic, deadlines and conference calls. The house in Guardia is ready for me at a moment's notice.

People ask me if I have any regrets about buying a house in Guardia, Italy.. my answer is always the same.. "Not for a single second!!!" 

Hillside view of Guardia - Picture by Guy Ranzino

The real story of Guardia is now the new wave of house hunters arriving in Guardia from all over the world.  In the last year, 20 houses have sold in the Centro Historico of Gaurdia to foreigners.  People ask if there are still houses for sale and if the prices are still good.. the answer if Yes and Yes.

The historic table that has welcomed so many visitors to Guardia in the past year.  (The plaque was a gift to the Orso family .. so appropriate Glenn T!!)

I am amazed at how a little town like Guardia, that has remained unchanged for so many years, has opened there arms to so many different people, and made them feel right at home. 

Welcome South Africa and Singapore!!

This month alone, Martha and Carlo arrived from South Africa and within one week, found a lovely vacation home for themselves.

Wayliak and his family from Singapore and spent 2 weeks in Guardia house hunting and enjoying the many day trips easily accessible from Guardia.  After 2 weeks in Guardia, they had found a wonderful vacation home and friendships that will hopefully last many lifetimes!

Wayliak and family meeting little Orso's
Even the littlest visitors can't help falling in love with Anna (and her cooking!!) 

Also, this month.  A film crew arrived that was filming a horror film called "Janara"  The filming took place in various locations in Guardia and San Lupo.  A lot of the filming took place on the piazza by my house Piazza Croce. All very exciting for the people of Guardia!  See the link on fb...Janara Il Film for more pictures and information.

Temporary bar scene.. on the Piazza

Filming on the steps of the Chiesa del Rocco
Click on link above for historical information on the Chiesa del Rocco.. one of several significant churches in Guardia..  

I'm excited to see new life coming back to the Centro Historico of Guardia, and I go to sleep at night dreaming about the possibilities of what tomorrow will bring ..

Buonanotte a tutti!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Upcoming Events and Updates

I  wanted to give everyone some updates on some upcoming events happening in Guardia this summer:

The Comune di Guardia always puts out a list of summer events will festivals, open air movie nights at the castle, and concerts.

If you are not on facebook and are looking for more information on Guardia, I would encourage you to do so. Much of the information available online about Guardia is communicated via facebook pages.  Although the summer events schedule is not posted yet, the City updates the above link with regularly.

For all of you art fans and artists, another exciting new event being planned is Ri-Creare Guardia, an international artistic gathering in Guardia. The even is being held July 4-6 and July 11-12 of 2014 and is being sponsored by Guardia Sanframondi Renaissance: The Art Town

And last but not least, for the wine lovers and foodies out there.. there is the 21st annual Vinalia 2014 that will be held August 3 - 9 2014.  The information hasn't been updated yet for this year's festa, but I'm including the links from last year's event.

Poster from Vinalia 2013

Official Vinalia website at: 

Vinalia Facebook page at:

This a one of a kind week long food and wine festival sponsored by the Winemakers Club and organized by the Committee Vinalia.  The festival is an annual even and marks the culmination of the celebration of the wine harvest.  The event is aimed at showcasing the local products of the Campania region of Italy.  The lively festival takes place in the characteristic setting of the "Centro Historico" of ancient Guardia. where over thirty company sponsors come together to set a stage for a delight to the senses.  The billboard includes wine (with over 200 labels), taverns (where you can taste local cheeses, olive oils, meats, honey and bread) , taste workshops, musical performances, film screening, street performers and more...

The festival is free of charge and weaves through the ancient streets and the magical castle in the clouds of Guardia Sanframondi.

In addition to the local festivities, Vinalia offers a unique wine tasting experience with an opportunity to have a private sampling of best wines from the 16 wineries present.  Here you will get to meet with experts and producers from the region to explain the uniqueness of their wines presented, giving you a feel for the tradition and passion for wine that is so much a part of their life.
An entrance ticket is required for this event.

Another exciting event coming to Guardia is the  Gran Ballo al Castello dei Fremondo, Guardia Sanframondi, BN)  (click on link)

Saturday June 21st 

The official schedule will be published shortly. The Gran Ballo will start  with a  of a procession at 19:00 that will start at town hall and weave through the main street of the Guardia with backdrop of period music from the 1800s. Once the procession arrives at Castle Square, the Grand Ball will begin.

I'll continue to update the information as I get more updates. I'm already getting excited about my next trip, but can't decide when to go  .. I don't want to miss anything!!

Until next time Ciao! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Day Trip to Naples...

The trip to Naples with Luigi and Anna was one of the highlights of the entire trip!! While Guardia is calm and serene, Naples is an explosion of the senses!! A bustling port city full of sights, sounds, and delicious food!

Luigi knew the back way to get into everything and knows Naples (and it seemed like everyone in Naples!) like the back of his hand. 

Anna & Luigi Orso 

We started our day walking through the market in Naples and weaved our way through miles and miles of specialty shops, street vendors and little cafes and restaurants.  

mmm the bread, the pie!

"Everything for the Baker"

Really interesting antique shop.. not sure if I went in I would ever be able to come out!

Every kind of seafood 

It was a nice sunny day.. so laundry day in Naples

Next we went to the Via San Gregorio Armeno to the mercado del presepe.  This is the Christmas market in Naples where they have beautiful hand crafted manger scenes.  The region is famous for its very intricate and elaborate mangers.. far beyond what we have in our typical manger scenes .. the "cribs" include very detailed scenes of entire villages.  I imagine you build your own a little at a time, adding a few pieces each year. 

Anna & me in front of one of many beautiful presepes

One of the more elaborate presepes.

Entering Via San Gregorio


Luigi!! always adding a laugh!

The small start of our family presepe

 After all that walking and shopping.. we were hungry and Luigi knew of this little place where we could eat the best pizza and the freshest seafood.. sooo good!!!  My mouth is watering just thinking about that meal!!

The cook came out to show me how fresh the seafood was.. it was still jumping!!

And 45 minutes later .. Wallah!!!

and its Naples so you have to eat Napolean style pizza!!

At this point my phone died so sadly I have no more pictures but I can tell you all about it.. After pranzo, we headed over to the port side and ate a gelato while looking out into the Gulf of Napoli where you can see the Isle of Capri in the distance as well as the Amalfi Coast .. all the way to Salerno.  It's a stunning view!
Next we went to the Castel dell Ovo, which is a 12th century fortress, surrounded by some of the nicest hotels in Naples as well as little shops and restaurants.  It's really a lovely area to take a stroll and soak in the sites.
Stock photo of Castell dell Ovo
..and this finished up our day in Naples.. we made a few stops on the way home because Luigi knows a place that has the best fruit, and another place that has the best cheese and so we made our way back to Guardia, everyone laughing and smiling about the memories we had made that day. 

Thank you Luigi and Anna for a most wonderful day!!