My Life in Veneto

Venice, the Veneto’s peerless capital, historically acted as a bridge between the Eastern and Western worlds, and it still unites the globe by mingling more than 14 million international visitors on its watery streets each year. Louisa explains why she decided to move to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Louisa Calder, a sculptor based in Oxfordshire, recently bought a two-bedroom apartment in Venice. “I’d been passionate about Italy for many years,” she explains. “I was taking annual painting holidays to Venice, and this city just gets under your skin after a while. I’d always dreamed of buying a home here, but like most foreigners I could only see problems – the potential chaos of buying in such an amazing place but such a very difficult place to live. Then in early 2010, the time felt right, and I started looking. I contacted Andrea Redivo Zaglia [of Properties in Italy], who was lovely and tremendously helpful, and then it happened very quickly. I saw a great number of properties, and bought my place in July.

“It’s in a converted watch factory on Giudecca island. About six years ago there was an international architecture design competition, and the winners rebuilt four factory-warehouses at one end of Giudecca. A friend of mine bought one of the apartments, and I stayed there on holiday. Then one came on the market while I was property-hunting. I was very lucky. It’s got fantastic views and great light, which is perfect for my painting and sculpting. When I did my homework beforehand I thought ‘oh, I’ll be able to rent it out, that will help pay the mortgage, and then I’ll eventually spend a lot more time there.’ But actually, the apartment is so wonderful and I love it so much, I can’t bear to let it out now! I’m sure I will eventually.

“The buying process was very straightforward indeed, I think partly because it’s a new-build, only six years old. Italian law on old property in country areas can be very convoluted, with complicated ownership deeds. But with a new-build you avoid all that. The people we bought it from were a charming couple. We actually met them, which you don’t expect in the UK. It’s terribly civilised. You all meet with the notary and shake hands. Then you meet again at the second part of the transaction. Andrea and his business partner Massimiliano were extremely good every step of the way. They even picked me up from the airport.

“Venice is such an exciting and romantic city. You see something new every time you walk down the street. The best thing about owning a home here is feeling yourself becoming a part of Venice. I’ve even bought a carrello! Every Venetian lady has a carrello. It’s a wheeled trolley you take to the market. They’re Italian-designed and of course very sleek and modern. You’re not a true Venetian unless you own one of those! I’ve bought one to go the fish market and to buy my vegetables, and now I feel that I really look the part!