This is not Under the Tuscan Sun, I’m not Frances Mayes and I’m not renovating a huge villa in rural Tuscany with my boyfriend while sharing my best jam recipes with you. This is me, buying the ground floor of a duplex in the gritty outskirts of the city of Florence. It’s busy, it’s loud and literally Post Malone is blaring in the background. There’s no peach jam, there’s mostly Chinese take out. There’s no expensive trattoria serving tender veal and Barolo, there’s late nights of endless 1 euro wine and vegetarian food at Vino e Ravioli. And I couldn’t ask for anything better to celebrate the last year of my twenties.
About two years ago, I didn’t have a permanent job, an Italian citizenship or a plan for my future. Because my life has always revolved around impulsiveness, I decided that it would make perfect sense to start looking into buying a home in a country I wasn’t even sure I would be allowed to live in.
It was 2017. Instead of taking it easy and focusing on the piles of citizenship paperwork and my job search, I decided I would casually begin house hunting…I don’t know what casual means.
In the past 10 years, I’ve moved a total of 10 times between Montreal, Vancouver and Florence; I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what I like by now. As I started visiting apartments for sale, a lot of the places I saw in Florence were alright and had potential, but none of them were giving me HGTV House Hunters “We love House #3” vibes until I walked into this small apartment with missing walls, the cutest garden and an actual chicken hanging out near the fence.
When I visited this house for the first time, I could literally see the badante cooking in the kitchen next door. There was no water. No electricity. No heating. No walls. Why? Long story short, the owners had bought two neighboring homes 30 years ago, broken down the walls and made it into one giant house. A few years ago, they decided to divide it back up again and sell half (my half).
If you’re thinking that I have no idea what I’m in for, you’re right. I’m slightly reckless, but WHO ISN’T SOMETIMES. I’ve never liked the idea of buying a renovated home. I want the RENOVATION GLORY. I WANT SHIPLAP EVERYWHERE. I want to walk around the house I live in and be in love with every little thing I see. God is a woman and her name is Joanna Gaines.
Buying this place wasn’t easy. It scared me and when something scares me, I know it’s the right thing to do (except the time I decided to get a Shakespeare tattoo on the back of my neck in gothic font like Angelina Jolie…it scared me and was 100% the wrong thing to do). During this whole house buying process, shit hit the fan SO MANY TIMES I lost count. I’m not going to share the countless meetings where people didn’t show up, the dozens of bank appointments and all of the missing paperwork, but let’s just say the entire process took almost two years. TWO YEARS! I made the offer when I was 27 and I bought the house at 29. Between one of the two owners (two brothers who didn’t speak to each other) passing away a few days before signing and finding out he was secretly married and had a daughter (a minor in the equation resulted in months of paperwork in order to sell the home), the entire process was very slow, very Italian, very messy and very expensive.
Now that it’s over and it’s finally mine, here are some pictures I took with my phone (sorry) to give you a general idea of what I’ll be pouring my heart (and bank account) into for the next few months. Also, I hope that this reminds you that you don’t need to be (or want to be) married, have a man (or woman), the job of your dreams or the perfect situation to do the shit you want. It may not be what you (or others) pictured your life would look like, but fuck it (and them), you know?
When I saw the garden, I knew I wanted this place to be mine. Florence is mostly made up of three floor walk-ups and finding a place this close to the city center (technically on a map, I’m in the city center, but like I’m not) with a quiet garden is pretty rare. Also, there are 7 chickens that casually stroll in to say hey sometimes. How could I resist?
There’s also a relatively large basement with a big window, but I’m scared of basements so I’ve never gone down there alone. I’LL GET OVER IT. I’d love to turn it into a hang out room, kind of like the one your parents had in the basement with wooden paneling where you kept everything you didn’t want to see around the house.
Obviously, this is costing me so much money and sometimes I lie awake at night and consider becoming a part-time webcam girl (not actually, you know what I mean), but it’s making me really happy and I can promise you that besides your health, that’s the only thing that matters.
Also, if anyone has any tips, ideas, suggestions, ANYTHING…I am open to all of it.