In 1971 when I was 17, I left school and took myself off abroad to work as an au pair. During the following 12 months I spent time in Brussels and New York. I thought that was a pretty good adventure but I still had the security of living with a family. It was fun and it was different but it wasn’t a ‘new life’
How I admire Clare the author of this autobiography. This is the story of how, in her 20s, she started a new life in Italy after seeing an advertisement for property for sale in hidden Umbria and watching a video showing an old stone house and chickens eating spaghetti.
With not much to look forward to in England, the miserable November weather, and a recent relationship break up, she arranged some time off her work as a journalist and travelled to Italy to view properties.
Having been shown several properties by the Italian agent she fell in love with an old wreck of property with holes in the roof, crumbling walls, no kitchen, no bathroom, and a stone well and arranged to buy it almost immediately.
To me it seems much more than an autobiography. It’s a wonderful story and you are transported to the Italian countryside almost effortlessly. Her writing style is warm, funny, and never dull.
Her description of the places and the people she meets is wonderful. You just feel as if you are there, or at least really want to go there to see these places and meet these people.
Of course there is also the story of the ongoing work to the house and the problems it throws at her, some which appear to be insurmountable.There are also huge cultural differences not just between England and Italy, but also between different parts of Italy. However she is helped to overcome most of them by Ercolino and Angela who were friends of the estate agent, and who became lifelong friends.
It’s Clare’s love story – with the house she bought, with Italy and with the man she met and then married.
So it’s a happy ending. Clare is still married, has three children and still lives in Italy.
I do hope she has more stories to tell and that she will write a sequel!