Settling in Sicily: A Long Decision, Part 2

May 13, 2012

“It’s happened,”  I  emailed family and close friends when I finally bought my dream home in Sicily. “The deed is done!”

My euphoria was the kind of helium-filled joy that you recognize much later as one of those few moments in life when every star in the firmament aligns perfectly and glitters with a rare intensity.


Duomo in Ragusa Ibla, copyright Jann Huizenga

A few days later, in response, an old friend forwarded an email from one of his buddies, a British diplomat in Milan. It read: Anyone buying property in Italy needs psychological counseling. I send my deepest sympathies to the lady. If it is not too late, she should withdraw and run—not walk—as far away as she can from this country.

Talk about bursting my balloon…


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42 comments to Settling in Sicily: A Long Decision, Part 2

  • Tom

    Jann, reading your blog is bittersweet. As you know, I’ve looked in Palermo, Ragusa and Pozzallo. Then I discovered Noto and Cefalú and Siracusa Ortigia, down down down an indecisive spiral! What about Rodos, Paros even Santorini, Greece. Then I found Gozo, the back streets of Victoria!!!! I don’t know what I want. Many say ‘Go, rent for at least a year in the general area before picking a property’…..yikes!
    Until and when at least there is your blog! Oh my! Tom

    • Jann

      Tom, an embarrassment of riches! I understand your dilemma. I think renting for even a few months in a place would give you an idea. What happened for me is that I taught in Ragusa Ibla for a few months and made friends, so that’s what decided me on the location–otherwise I’d probably still be looking! Good luck!

  • Ian Henry

    Hi jan hope you are well,the British diplomat what an idiot, you would think some body in his position would know better.things can be difficult as we know having nearly bought country house in Calabria, but with the correct advise moved on, having met the right people near you,we now spend half the year in in Sicily and half in the uk, we have had no problems and been treated with so much respect we love the area.
    Sorry to go on but people need to know it can be done, we arrive on Friday and are there for 3 weeks it would be great to meet you if you are about.

  • Jann, obviously the British diplomat was having a bad day. I’m glad you took a chance, bought your house, and now have the ability to come and go as you please. I’m not one to listen to what others say in regard to the decisions I make. I do what I want and if someone wants to rain on my parade, I ignore them! hee hee! I love that you have a house in Sicily. Someday when I retire to the Tuscan Region, I hope to pay you a visit! 🙂

  • Sometimes a dream slowly and quietly seeps into the heart and plants roots. Sometimes it explodes into the heart and takes over. Either way, once a dream has found a home in your heart, it is unspeakably fulfilling to follow your heart. To live with a longing, lonely heart is no life at all.

  • Anitre

    Jann, you made the right decision to buy in Sicily. The island needs more positive people like you. We have no regrets with our little place in the sun, either. Forza!

    • Jann

      Anitre, so glad to hear you’ve got no regrets… Cherish your little casa in the sun…

  • Ciao Bella-

    As you know, I don’t regret buying here in Italy, either even though there certainly were moments during the reconstruction when I thought I was crazy to have taken on such a project. But even the questionable times have “rebirthed” into wonderful stories and warm memories….as you well know.

    A presto

    • Jann

      Ciao Carissima! A punto!! Those horrible, hair-pulling days have morphed into warm-and fuzzy stories…. Hope you’re enjoying spring in your lovely Umbria and cooking up a tasty storm. xxxxx

  • anastasia

    I too bought a place in Sicily and will be returning from the states this week.
    When I commented maybe I was crazy a friend said “NO!! Your just doing what a lot of us dream of, you just have the nerve to do it. It’s been a year and a half since I found my casa and bought it. I was back last year to make arrangements
    for the renovations which have been going on with me checking in long distances.
    I can honestly say I had more problems with the codel fiscale here in the states than anything but I do not in anyway regret my decision to buy in Italy!!

    • Jann

      Anastasia, you are NOT crazy!!! You are SMART to go after what you want. About the codice fiscale, I’m sorry you had problems. To get mine, I had no idea what to do, so a Sicilian friend led me into an office, and after 5 minutes I walked out with one…. (I guess it’s hard from a distance???, but seems simple once you’re here.)

  • —If we listened to what others told us, we’d never take chances in life…

    I’m glad you took a chance, Jann…. & followed your dream.

    By doing so, you inspire us to, as well. Xxxx

  • Charlie

    Interesting quote Jann. Thanks for sharing. I have a feeling it is not Italy itself that disturbed this “diplomat”. Something must have happened to in his life to make him feel this way.

    • Jann

      Well, Charlie, I guess it’s good for us Italy-lovers that not everyone shares the feeling, or there wouldn’t be room to move. I had friends from Sweden who lived in Rome for a year and hated it because “it is crumbling” and “old.” So, to each his own….

  • Maria Clayton

    Ciao Jann from Maria in Australia down under………All I can say Jann is that you are blessed and with each of your blogs, we read ’em and weep!!!! Keep those great blogs coming……….XX

    • Jann

      Ciao Maria, thanks so much for your cheer-leading from Down Under & Across the Big Pond. Much appreciated!

  • Nina

    I’m with you..My husband and I are closing in July on our slice of Italy in Briatico, Calabria.People who say, and think otherwise, live inside the Box. If people really looked, they would see how affordable it is to buy, and live in Italy.All you Americans out there,Better to Live the Dream, than Dream the Dream…

    • Jann

      You GO, Nina!!!! Best of luck to you in July. So exciting!!! I love what you say, live the dream don’t just dream it.

  • Here again, all I can say is “Boy, have I got some horror stories for you!!” Let’s just hope that after all you can avoid some of the terrible encounters with “the other side” of home-ownership in Italy. The dark side! (Sounds like a good blog entry…)

    • Jann

      Well, Sandra, I’ve had a “unexpected setbacks” with home ownership–my pipes leaking into neighbor’s houses, having to tear up my bathroom floor to get at them–tears and despair, BUT none of the setbacks in the least lessened my enthusiasm (in the short term yes, long term absolutely not).

  • Cathy

    Ahhh, there’s always nay-sayers when a person makes grand decisions such as these. Just say “Phoo-ey on you”! I’m sure you don’t regret it, when you are looking at that beautiful cupola from your window, buying lovely fresh fruits & veggies from the charming street vendors calling out their wares, sweeping those gorgeous tiles in your kitchen & stairs and chatting with antique-coffee-grinder-bearing garbage removal men….. Well… actually you probably wouldn’t say “Phoo-ey on you” anymore than I would but it would be something similarily along those lines I’m thinking 🙂 Its easy to romanticize the whole thing; it was not an easy process, but sure makes for an exciting life!

    And really Jann, most importantly — if you hadn’t gone ahead with this life changing decision, just WHO would have posted all those pics of gorgeous Italian men in Speedos, on motorcycles, in police uniforms….

    🙂 What would we do without you?

    • Jann

      Ah, Cathy, you’re a sweetheart to say all that. Thank you! Yes, nay-sayers–I’ve known a few (ahem, including my husband for a while, though now he’s a yea-sayer). I haven’t regretted my decision, even for a day–well, actually there was ONE day or even two days during the repairs–but every single other day I’m amazed at how right it was…. I’d better start looking for some more men for you!!!

  • Bud

    Three quotes for you Jann

    “Follow your Bliss – Joseph Campbell
    “If at first, the idea is not absurb, then there is no hope for it” – Albert Einstein
    I didn’t choose Italy, Italy chose me” – Steven McCurdy

    • Jann

      Bud, great quotes… Thanks so much. I had not heard the Einstein one, and love it. My idea certainly seemed absurd at first, even to me!

  • Matt Grippi

    I admire you for following your dreams. There will always be a nay-sayer or two in the crowd. One day I may join you and I find this inspirational.

  • Gail VanDerVeer

    Jann, I think it was a wonderful idea. I am living vicariously through you!

    • Jann

      Hello dear Gail, I was just thinking about you the other day. Thanks for reading & commenting, and happy mom’s day! xxxxxxxxxx

  • Congratualations on your new abode in my ancestral homeland–aka, paradiso!

    As for that British diplomat in Milan, that is because he is in Northern Italy–aka, Germany, which is NOTHING like bella Sicilia!

    • Jann

      Hi there Holly, welcome to the blog! Glad you found me. Ha ha, you’re right about that….As the Sicilians say, “Milano is Germany!”

  • Sam

    It seems to me that the British diplomat mentioned here should never have been posted to Italy. Actually with an attitude like that, he probably didn’t belong in the foreign service at all.

  • I would be sticking with your first reaction Jann…. This is your piece of paradise and you’re sticking with it!!! Your dream. I’m with you all the way. Viva i romantici!!!! janine xxxxx

  • Dennis Berry

    Buying a house in Sicily is like the national geographic photo of the day 5-7-12.
    It may not be for everyone but for those who choose to do it and scale all the walls of creating a special place it brings great joy and wonderful feelings of accomplishment.

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