If the thought of having a major renovation in your native country scares you, doing the same thing in a foreign country should terrify you. In your home country, you have a basic idea of how construction is accomplished merely by having lived in houses (or apartment buildings) for your entire life. Where do light switches go? In the US, are outlets for grounded plugs (3 prong plug, which also accommodates a 2 prong plug) or is a GFCI? If you turn on a faucet, the left side control gives you hot water and the right side control gives you cold water. Where can you put windows?
When you are dumped into the alternate reality of renovation in Italy after decades spent in the United States in multiple houses, it is a journey of startling revelations. In Italy, plugs that have three prongs don’t plug into all of the outlets that have three prongs even though it looks like it should fit. Even plugs that have two prongs which are seemingly spaced like the two outside prongs of a three-prong plug don’t plug into some of the outlets. Most floors are tile in Italy, but bullnose tile for baseboard molding is not an off-the-shelf item. If you have been thinking of moving to a house in Italy, or even purchasing a vacation home there, you will probably have to go through at least a minor renovation and more likely will have to experience a major renovation to get the house of your dreams. The older properties, with the charm of architectural details which are appealing to us foreigners, are mostly very run down. Those properties which are newer and have been redone are redone in what I call a style of modern Italian sensibilities—usually that involves a lot of shiny surfaces and modern design elements, not necessarily “modern” in foreign terms.
If you are a foreigner, even if you are in the building trade in your home country, you need a guide through the renovation process in Italy. Vignaverde is an excellent choice to provide the guidance. If I had not had Vignaverde to hold my hand through the process of renovating, I would have given up and returned home. It is necessary to have someone who understands not only the Italian component of the renovation, but understands where you are coming from.A first area in which Vignaverde was indispensable was in shopping assistance.
If I were in the US, I would go online to find places to shop for things like tiles, doors, plumbing fixtures, etc. Unfortunately, most stores in Italy in Abruzzo do not have websites that enable me to know where I need to go. Since I was living in the United States while the renovation was occurring, I could not spend a lot of time driving around and talking to people about where to go to buy things on my trip here to buy things for the construction. I didn’t have months to discover and round up what I needed. I was here for a short trip and needed to go and make my selections in a short amount of time. Some of the places that I was taken might as well have been on Mars. The place where my beautiful handmade interior doors were made was off a road which was down a road which was hidden by trees and not advertised anywhere, even as I drove up to the place. I had to go to three different places for my stone kitchen counters; the one that had what I wanted was in a small town (among hundreds of small towns) that I might have stumbled upon after living here for half a year. A second area in which Vignaverde was indispensable was in having a larger than life partner nicknamed Pino.