What started as a dream, has become reality.
When we (Eric and Nanja) lived and worked in the Netherlands we have very often considered to buy an old house in Italy and convert it into an Agriturismo, our own place where our guests could enjoy a wonderful holiday in peaceful and natural surroundings and of course enjoy the real Italian life.
For a long time however, it remained a dream, mainly of Eric. He had been on holiday in Italy several times and he was very much attracted to the hospitality of the people. By his enthusiastic stories Nanja also became interested in this beautiful country and together we continued our search to see ‘ how ‘ and ‘ where ‘ we could realize our dream.
We were both working in Amsterdam. Eric as a calculator and planner at a contractor;
a nice and diverse job with lots of contacts. Nanja worked as a dental assistant in the children’s section at the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA). This was also a pleasant job in a diverse environment with many fine colleagues.
At the time we lived on a houseboat, a former cargo boat from 1913, in Amsterdam in the Amstel across the Stopera. This boat was actually our first large-scale renovation project, we rebuilt it entirely with our own hands to our own ideas. So we had already gained some experience in renovation and rebuilding. It was a hard goodbye when we sold the boat but luckily it has got a good new owner (https://www.captainrob.eu/) we still contact from time to time.
In the spring of 2006 we went to Italy for a roundtrip through different regions, as we had planned at home in the Netherlands, to get a better picture. During our trip we visited a number of houses that were on our wishlist. In the second week we arrived at Carincone, and we were quite blown away actually.
Carincone is a farmhouse that dates back to 1670. The roof and the walls were restored as we found it,the thick walls consisting of blocks of stone mainly called Montaiate (grey) and partly with stones from Furlo (pink). Every year the family that used to live here (since around 1900) comes to visit us.. It is a family with eight daughters, all of whom were born in our present house. Now these daughters come with their families (husband, children and grandchildren) to pay a visit to their parental home. They are very excited and interested in that the house is inhabited again, after Carincone has stood empty for over 40 years.
After we had acquired Carincone we returned to the Netherlands to set out again after approximately two weeks with a caravan and the first necessities. We were very excited because our dream had begun and we wanted to get started. Unfortunately we had some setbacks mainly in the field of Italian bureaucracy. There were all kinds of formalities which we had to carry out before we really could start with the rebuilding. This was a heavy setback.
In the more than five years of renovating we had to live with two Italian farming families in the immediate vicinity of Carincone. This was necessary because we weren’t allowed to live in our house. During this stay, we had the opportunity to learn the Italian language and get acquainted with Italian manners and habits. For us this was an excellent ‘integration program’ and an amazing experience.
Meanwhile we held on to our dream, despite the ample delay we encountered. Ultimately we succeeded in reshaping Carincone – with lots of help from family and friends – into five beautiful apartments (Aria, Acqua, Terra, Fuoco and Sole & Luna) and a living area for ourselves.
Now that most of the work is behind us, we believe we have accomplished our dream. We have lived here for over five years now and we like it very much. Every day we enjoy the peace and quiet of nature and especially the friendliness of the people around us. This is our real “La Dolce Vita“and we would appreciate it very much to have you share this experience with us.
Eric and Nanja Helmers.