Tina O’Neill from Cheshire bought a two-bedroom house in the hills south of Modena.
For three years she used it as a holiday home, then her love of Italy grew too great and she made a permanent move to Emilia-Romagna in 2014.
What drew her to this region in particular? “I’d been to many different parts of Italy on holiday,” Tina explains, “but I’d never been to Emilia-Romagna until a job I had in the UK required me to make regular business trips to Bologna. I was really charmed by the city and its way of life – and I was completely blown away by the food! I began to explore the region more and liked everything I saw of it. The cities were beautiful, and the people seemed to lead such comfortable, contented lives. When I was in a position to buy a small second home, I knew that Emilia-Romagna was the place I wanted it to be.
“I was astonished by how cheap the houses were in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains. I nearly bought a four-bedroom property, but it would have required quite a bit of renovation and I thought ‘do I really need all that space?’ The house I chose in the end was in a good state of general repair and I only had to do some updating of the décor inside. I refitted the bathroom and kitchen, got the electricity and heating brought up to standard, did a few more bits and bobs, and the place was soon pretty much perfect. I had all sorts of anxieties about buying a house in a foreign country and not knowing the correct procedures for doing things, but my estate agent was brilliant and helped me though every stage of the process. I’d also found a few fellow Brits online who’d bought a house out here, and been in touch with them to get their advice. One couple, Bruce and Mary, live only a few miles from here and we often get together now and discuss our ex-pat lives over many glasses of wine.
“What I love most about my location is how tranquil it is. The air is clean and fresh, the weather is wonderful, and the place is so quiet. And yet it also lets me get to really exciting places quickly when I want to. Both Bologna and Florence are only about an hour away. And I can take day trips to Venice or Milan by train. Emilia-Romagna is extremely well-situated for visiting so many lovely places. I’m pretty fluent in Italian now, and I’d recommend that anyone thinking of buying a house here learns as much of the language as the