Chat with Marisa and David of “Tales from Tuscany”

Buying Our Forever Home in Italy

Lockdown in Australia did not stop Marisa and David from following their hearts and dream of living in Italy. During the pandemic, they met online, fell in love, and purchased their dream home in Tuscany without seeing it in person! However, now virtual reality is a romantic reality.  Marisa and David recently got married in Italy and now plan to make Chianni their forever home. Watch them weekly on their YouTube channel, “Tales from Tuscany”. Our video chat is now on YouTube! Please subscribe to them and us.

(1:28) Where are you from?

Marisa: I was born in Sydney, Australia but I have an Italian father and English mother. So from birth I basically had Italian citizenship as well.

David: I was born in England and I emigrated to Australia in my 20’s.

(2:04) Is Australia still your permanent home?

Marisa: We are transitioning. I have lived in Italy a lot first as a teenager. I worked in the travel industry and would come here as much possible I have done that in different periods of my life. If I was to add up over time how many years that I’ve spent in Italy, it would probably be about six or seven years that I’ve spent living here.

David: For me it was about half a dozen holidays. That is where my love and fascination for all things Italian came to mind.

(3:29) Give us some history about how you met and what you did professionally in Australia?

Marisa: I started off in the travel industry. I worked with Qantas for a few years, plus sales and marketing. I lived in France for ten years. Because I had a degree to teach English, I worked at a university in France. Simultaneously I ran a bed and breakfast. I’ve had a varied background. When I returned back to Australia I wrote a couple of books that became very successful. I’ve won a literary award.

David: I was in IT (information technolgy) for about 25 years. Recently I’ve moved into the finance side of things.

Marisa: Obviously we are a new couple. We’ve been together about four years online. We would not have met otherwise because we come from very different parts of Sydney. After two dates, we went into lockdown, so the beginning of our relationship was three months talking on the phone. We fell in love over the phone. It propelled us forward learning a lot about each other in a short time I believe in this way rather than dating traditionally. It was awful, but really awesome!

(7:56) When did it come up that you both loved Italy?

Marisa: From day because it was on our online profiles. As soon as I told David that I was part Italian he was very intrigued. He was very sweet because he would write messages to me in Italian using Google translate. It was very early in our relationship that I shared my dream of wanting to live in Italy. I had worked on it for years, but it had never come to fruition. He straight away told me that he also had that dream. Long before we knew that we’d be married, it created a lovely bond between us.

David: It wasn’t specifically a goal, but it was something that we knew would be great if it happened.

(10:03) What does it mean to be an Italian Australian?

Marisa: It is probably similar to Italian American. When I was preschool age, my parents had a florist shop and they would leave me with my nonna and three zias. They would speak to me in Italian and make me Italian food. When my mum would come home she would speak to me in English and I would often not understand. Moving forward it was dad who wanted to speak more English for mum’s sake. I always had that influence. My mum used to say that God made a mistake. Although born in England she felt more Italian. She loved the whole culture right from the beginning. My uncle would buy masses of grapes and make wine. My family made passata in the garage, plus we had olive trees in the backyard. I was rather anglocized, but I felt so much of the beautiful Italian culture.

(13:15) How long have you been an Italian citizen?

Dad wanted my sister and I to get to know our Italian side and my mum supported that. At fifteen, we lived her for a year. I was allowed the time off of school and returned almost fluent in Italian and French.

(14:16) How is your Italian David?

I am in my infancy. My understanding is a lot better than my speaking. When I return to Australia, I hope to work more on speaking. It’s hard without the influences other than Marisa. You obviously learn quickest when immersed. Your ability to grow the fastest happens that way. I hope to learn as quickly as possible.

Small things like going into a shop add up.

Marisa: I try to push him and ask him to order food for example. I want him to practice as much as possible. He is gaining more confidence every day.

David: It’s about giving it a go.

(18:12) You bought a property without seeing it! Tell us about your experience.

Marisa: During Covid I was laid off and needed a project. I had the time to go online, search and use Google Earth. I would stop at a shop for example, and then search for it. — and literally did that with hundreds of villages throughout Italy.

(21:08) Why did you decide on Chianni?

Marisa: Chianni was really by chance. I started my research in Umbria because I have family there. I love it there and it’s quite similar to Tuscany. For some reason every time we tried to make an offer in a property there, it didn’t work out. A cousin advised that we should consider looking elsewhere. We thought Tuscany would be out of our price range, but there are plenty of affordable homes if you look in the right place. We wanted to be in a beautiful village with services, not far from transport hubs, and close to nature. Chianni is south of Pisa. The more I researched is an entire shire (county). Chianni is all organic and they have some of the most renowned food in all of Tuscany. The area also has a rich history with Etruscan roots and was owned by the Medici family.

It is like the postcards with the golden rolling hills in the distance. It was the quintessential thing when dreaming of Tuscany. We are at the heart of the village where literally out the door everything is available by foot.

(24:47) Did you use a realtor?

Absolutely. I found the house through the real estate site Immobiliare. There’s another one called Gate Away and Idealista. Often you will find the listings on all three. I called since I heard that you don’t always get an answer by email. We are really good friends with our realtor and her husband now.

(26:47) Tell us about the restoration.

David: A lot of the work had been done like a new roof and central heating system. The structural beams have been replaced and it has new electricity and plumbing. At this time in our lives, we didn’t want a massive project.

(28:45) Share your best tips for people wishing to buy a home in Italy.

Marisa: In retrospect, having the language is a big part.

David: It helps, but that shouldn’t stop you.

Marisa: I noticed that a lot of people have the dream, but they don’t have a clue where they want to be or need advice about where to look. To me that’s an impossible question. As individuals we all have our own needs and wants. If you want to be in Italy, number one is to ask if you are a coastal or country person? Think about where you want to be physically. Then, you have to keep a budget in mind. Do the research yourself. I look at lots of YouTube videos.

Once you have contacted someone, see if they answer you back in English. If they do, communication will be easier. I definitely say to reach out to someone who has helping people find homes. You might spend money, but the time that you will save counts for a lot.

If you contact someone who isn’t kind to you, let it go.

David: You’ll find that most of the listings are with multiple agencies. There’s no exclusivity to one agent.

Know all of the steps.

David: What you are really saying when you say, “location, location, location” is knowing what your dream and lifestyle are rather than buying for what will sell in the future.

Marisa: I think another important thing is to make sure that you know all of the steps. For example, some Facebook groups are awesome, but others will make you more confused. Double check and do your own due diligence.

A lot of people don’t want a car, so if that’s the case looking at a villa in a remote village isn’t a good idea. It’s fine to be in the country, but I can jump on trains and busses quite easily.

Also, “patience is king.” You have to take a step back because you are going through a totally different cultural thing and set of laws. There’s no point in getting frustrated. Take a deep breath and work your way through. You’ll get there.

(37:45) Share your experience about getting married in Italy.

David: We were getting along very well, and I knew Marisa was the lady who I wanted to marry. One place in Italy that’s been my favorite city in the world. We got engaged in Venice on a gondola!

Marisa: We just love it here and wanted to marry here. It turned out to be more intimate. Totally by chance, I found the beautiful Villa Cosmiana where a princess lived until the 1930’s. A French man and Welch who are winemakers restored it. It’s about 10 kilometers from here. They have wine tastings and not weddings, but I emailed them to ask if we could do our wedding there.

It was a fairy tale! Although only eight of us, we had the use of the entire villa, grounds, and vineyard.

(44:00) Tales of Tuscany YouTube Channel

The channel is an outlet for myself, but I wanted to help others.

(47:36) What are the future plans for the channel?

Marisa: I can really see that apart from people enjoying our everyday life, my goal is to share more home tours. It has been through YouTube that I’ve been asked to do a video that helps them. That’s been done out of love. David and I get out to places that we’ve never been. Looking at beautiful homes is so much fun.

I don’t want it to become something that I can’t enjoy anymore. I am loving it!

(51:17) What is your definition of an expat?

David: There are two levels. The first one is someone who is from another country and living elsewhere for work. They eventually return to their home country. The second is a person like me who wants to emigrate. Initially they are treated as a foreigner.

Marisa: I see myself as a citizen of the planet. I have never felt that I am expat in Italy and it’s a blessing. Italy has always been my home. I have never felt just at home in Australia. Both places are home. My blood and heart are from Italy. Every time the plane touches down I am back where I belong. I know that this will be our forever home. My Dad would really love that.

(55:12) Besides friends and family what do you miss?

Marisa: I know that I won’t miss a lot. It’s a beautiful country, but I have always felt European since a little girl. When I lived in France, that felt like home too. I then missed my family and friends. However, Facetime has changed things now. I miss everything about Italy when back in Australia.

David: For me it’s two levels because I was born in England. There is a part of England that I still live. It’s more the cultural side like going to the pub with friends and family in a historic building. Although there are plenty of old buildings in Europe, the pub is the hub of the village.

On the other side of the coin, Australia is a new country. I love the natural side of Australia like the many beaches and diversity of nature.

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Marisa’s other Instagram accounts: @marisaraoul @sardiniamylove @vivasogni @panareamylove @residenzatoscana

Read Christine’s previous interview with Marisa.

Lisa Morales

Editor-in-Chief

Based in Miami, I am the Editor-in-Chief for Live in Italy Magazine. I am a member of the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and contributor to internationally recognized art; food and wine; and travel publications. In my free time, I love to cook and bake; take photographs; go for nature walks; and run on the beach. I am WSET 2 Certified and working on the CSW. I look forward to getting to know you! Follow Us @LiveInItalyMag 🇮🇹.

2 Comments
  1. Thank you so much to Lisa and the wonderful team at Live in Italy magazine. We had such a wonderful time chatting with you Lisa and love how you’ve put together this lovely article. We also look forward to seeing the online video version as well once it’s complete. It’s an honour to have been chosen to participate in your lovely edition and hopefully, it will help others to understand that there’s no age or reason. not to follow your dreams.

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