Deborah Ross Warin tells us about her love for Italy whom shares with her husband Francis John Ambrosio, and describes the story of their apartment in Cetona-Tuscany, that they recently bought.
I found Great Estate on line when looking at Italian home listings on the internet. I contacted them about a home in Bevagna first and then I spoke with Roberto (Roberto Biggera, International Property Consultant – Ed.) by telephone telling him I was available to go to Italy the following Tuesday for 1 ½ days to look at homes. After speaking with him, he sent dozens of house listings that were appropriate to our search. My husband and I narrowed it, with Roberto’s guidance; Roberto made a carefully crafted schedule so that I could view nine houses in Tuscany and Umbria in a day in half. He picked me up in his car at the Chiusi train station and off we went. Despite the next day being a holiday, we looked at the remaining houses from early in the morning to late in the evening.
We, my husband and I, were unsure whether we wanted a small farmhouse with a garden or an apartment in an historic city center. By the end of the first day, I knew a house in town was for us. When I first visited Cetona that first day, I fell in love with it. Of course it helped that is was the flower festival, but it was perfect! Small and personal but so lively. And I loved the apartment and the fact that it was located just off the piazza. That was it. I just loved it. Frank and I returned to Cetona in May so that he could see that apartment and so we could spend a few days in Cetona to get the feel of the town. We found it to be both fascinating and graceful. There was such a dignified grace about it everywhere – the restaurants, the shops, it was all perfect. We were looking for a town as much as a house. A town that we wanted to make our home, that would feel like home even though it was very different than our American home.
Yes and no. We had looked informally for years and despaired of ever finding anything that would work. It wasn’t until we connected with Great Estates that things began to click and with a matter of days we knew the place we wanted. Or at least I did and then Frank felt the same way when he visited.
Yes, it was a long and difficult negotiation – especially for the agents but they were tenacious about bringing it to fruition and for that we are very grateful. Roberto guided us at each step of the negotiation, helped us find the financing that was right for our needs, directed us to a fine Italian lawyer, Mariangela Marrangoni to represent us for the sale. His knowledge and advice were indispensable.
Ah. Let me count the ways. For about 15 years, Frank and I led academic tours of Florence, Tuscany and Umbria for Georgetown University and we spent a faculty sabbatical as faculty in residence at Georgetown’s Villa Le Balze in Fiesole (he’s a professor of Philosophy, specializing in Dante and I teach Renaissance Studies). Four years ago we founded our own touring company, The Renaissance Company LLC, and expanded our itineraries for touring Italy. We love this country – its culture and history; the richness and beauty of this endlessly fascinating land – and count it a great privilege to present to serious travelers the wholly unique magic of this place which shaped and inspired the giants of western culture. It’s so deeply resonant, I never get used to it. We’ve led more than thirty tours, spent many holidays here, yet rather than becoming inured to it, we feel increasingly connected to it. It’s always been that way. It’s not just the history, the culture, the beautiful landscape, the food or wine. It’s the people. Their grace, engagement with living. To say charm is too superficial, it’s much deeper than that.
Because from the very beginning, from the presentation of their listings on line, to our agent and the other agents we met, they were extremely professional, competent, informed and reliable. We were overwhelmingly impressed by how responsive our agent was and how quickly he discerned just what we wanted – maybe even before we did. Our whole experience was overwhelmingly positive.