Many people dream of simply packing their (necessary) things and moving abroad to Italy, including me. I was recently approached by a couple (the Abbotts) currently living in Italy, and I found their story to be really unique. Because of the housing market decline in Italy, they have had a difficult time selling their lovely home; after renting it out via Airbnb, they came up with the idea to have a prize raffle for the house. Imagine buying 1 of the 6,000 (at most) raffle tickets being sold and walking away with a beautiful house in a true rustic Italian city. The Abbotts have graciously accepted my request for an interview; keep reading below for all of the details. Without further ado, this is their story.
Q: Hi James, thank you for allowing me to conduct this interview with you. Can you tell me a little about you & your wife’s backgrounds, where you’re from, what you do for a living, what brought you to Italy?
A: I am English, and my wife is Danish. I came to Italy 17 years ago on an old, beat-up 1970s Vespa, riding it from England 15,000 km around Europe. I have always been drawn to Italy and thoroughly loved the area of Abruzzo from my time visiting. I decided to make this area my home, and after searching around, I found this beautiful house up for sale. I met my wife whilst snowboarding in the Dolomites, and she chose to come live here with me. We run a small online shop called Rustic Italia (www.etsy.com/shop/rusticitalia) and sell vintage and rustic pieces from Italy predominantly to the US, but all around the world. My wife & I have a lifetime’s worth of great memories in this house, and while bittersweet, I am excited for whomever wins the raffle and is able to make memories of their own.
Q: I completely understand your love for Italy; this is a very special place and probably my most sought-after destination to live. When you reached out to me earlier in the week, I found your story to be quite remarkable. For my readers who have yet to hear it, can you walk us through the details of how this idea came about?
A: After restoring the house, we planned to sell it, but the property market in the area and in Italy has declined dramatically; in the meantime, we started to rent it on Airbnb very successfully. However, we have plans to do other projects and still wanted to sell the house. In the UK, these house prize draws have been running with some success, so we decided to explore that opportunity. With the help of a great web designer, we put together the site and began the competition.
Q: Fascinating, but why exactly are you looking to sell your beautiful home?
A: Really to fund the next project, although we don’t know exactly what that will be yet… But we absolutely love this area so are staying here.
Q: I see; now, can you tell us exactly how this prize raffle is going to work? I understand you have limited your raffle ticket sales to 6,000 at 50 pounds (roughly $66) each and have already sold over half; how did you determine the price and the amount of tickets you were going to sell?
A: Other house raffles sold tickets for a much lower price and needed to sell many more tickets, so people would buy one for next to nothing and not think about it. Owning a second home is a responsibility and we wanted people to think about that. £50 isn’t much if you are getting a house at the end of it, but it’s enough not to just put it down on anything. We hope to sell all of the tickets of course, and then at the closing date (September 30th), we will hold the draw whereby each ticket is given a random number that’s been generated digitally. There will be an independent observer, and we will record the proceedings via video. Once a winner is chosen, we will call them to let them know the great news!
Q: Some readers may be skeptical & hesitant at first to join this lottery-of-sorts (with much better odds, I must say) as they may feel it could be a scam. How would you like to address this out in the open and reassure the people?
A: We have tried to be as open, honest, and transparent as possible about this from the beginning. Our contact details, Facebook, & Instagram accounts are on the website; anyone is welcome to contact us with any concerns, and we have answers to frequently asked questions on the site as well. My wife & I document our daily lives with the kids in order for everyone to see we are real people. The UK Gambling Commission has approved of the prize draw, and a notary will be responsible for the transfer of the deeds to the winner.
Q: Perfetto. I would like to make a side note to my audience; I have had a great deal of contact with James & his wife lately, and they seem like really lovely people with good hearts and a love for travel that we all cherish. Now that we have gotten through all of the more difficult questions, let’s get into the house itself & the Abruzzo region of Italy. What makes this part of Italy special, and why should people yearn to live there?
A: Abruzzo is a very special place; it is easily accessible from Rome, only 90 minutes to the house, but the beauty is Abruzzo is relatively untouched by tourists. Tuscany and Umbria are beautiful places, but heaving with people. Abruzzo is much more understated; you feel you are discovering something new at every turn. There are gorgeous medieval stone villages, snow-capped mountains for skiing, castles, lakes, trails for hiking and cycling, beautiful beaches, national parks, amazing wildlife – the list goes on.
Q: That sounds simply perfect; where can I sign up (laughter). Another question my readers would probably like to know is how convenient your house is to local restaurants, stores, parks, etc. Also, what is the nearest big city?
A: The village is very small with only a local shop for the basics. But very close by, there are numerous restaurants with excellent food, a larger local supermarket in the next village, vineyards for some excellent Abruzzo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, located on the doorstep of the Gran Sasso National Park, and has nature all around. The nearest big city to fly to for most of your readers will be Rome, 90 minutes away, but Pescara and the beaches are 50 minutes away and L’Aquila, the largest local city, is 30 minutes away.
Q: Great! Well, I want to thank you again for going through this interview with me. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and your story, and I hope our paths cross one day in Italy. Do you have any last words you’d like to say to my readers before we sign off?
A: I am very excited to meet whoever it is that wins our house and look forward to showing them this wonderful area. We’ll eat in one of the local restaurants and enjoy one or two glasses of the delicious local wine whilst we plan a tour of the most amazing things to do. And, of course, I wish you all the very best of luck!
There you have it, folks! The dream of owning your own home in Italy is very much alive. Having personally experienced most of the well-traveled spots of bello l’Italia myself, being able to explore a mostly undiscovered area sounds like one adventure after another waiting to happen. Make your dream a reality today.
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