Category Archives: Trulli Mariadz

The grand project is reluctantly put up for sale

Those who know Maria and I well, or have read the website, will know that we have had a couple of dreams, rather than the one dream in the tag line.

The first of these is to travel the world on Mariadz. As you will have seen, getting the boat ready has taken a lot of time, effort and money.

img_5370The second dream after we had finished travelling was to live in beautiful southern Italy in a magnificent property. By having this property available prior to our departure, it would provide a steady income stream which could support us during our journey.

We spent a lot of time and effort working with our Italian friends to identify the land, design the house, get planning permission (no mean feat in itself) and then start the construction. Trulli Mariadz 2Our plans were ambitious. The house was sized as an equivalent of the house we had in the UK and so consisted of 250 square metres of interior space. But of course, in Italy, with its temperate climate, a lot of time is spent outside so interior space is less important. The problem with building a large place is that the cost increases in proportion to the size and if we had developed something of 150 square metres, we would now be looking at a finished build.

In Italy the build is done in two stages, the first is the rustic element which includes foundations, walls and ceilings. The completion follows which is when the windows, doors, electrics, water, climate control, bathrooms etc get finished. Finally, in Italy, the kitchen is not included in the build, or house sale, unless specifically identified!

As you can see a lot of expense over a period of five years and unfortunately the property is stuck at the rustic stage. After some bad luck, and bad decisions, we have found that we won’t be able to afford to complete the property for a number of years.

We have looked into loans but can’t find a lender who is prepared to lend on a part built property in Italy with someone that is not currently living there.

It has put us into a dilemma. Although we both love the land and the project, it looks like we will have to reluctantly decide to sell it to someone who can afford to finish it. So our gorgeous Italian project is on the market and having of valued by two different people, the price is €400,000, which is not much for such a huge building. We are hoping it will sell to someone who will love it as we have. The overall dream is not over. Our intention would be to reinvest the money from the sale in a smaller completed property that is usable straight away. This would bring the dream closer and put us very close to being able to start our journey. So fingers crossed for a happy ending.


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When in Italy

As I am sure you have been able to tell from the website, we are rather keen on Italy and Puglia in particular.  However we are not the types to try and turn a small part of Italy into little England.  To that end for the last few years we have been trying to learn Italian, who knows another language may even help us on our travels.

We started with some lessons bought through the internet with Listen and Learn UK.  This didn’t work out very well for us, since the requirement that the lessons be in our home seemed to be missed and so we were travelling across Colchester for our lesson. We started to get into a rhythm of having these when our tutor got pregnant and decided to give it up.  When we went back to the company they told us that the money we had paid was non refundable and that the fact these had not been completed quickly due to our tutor’s availability was immaterial.  On top of that they were expensive but a total the time we didn’t know anyone who could teach us Italian and so a large mark up had to be stomached. A pretty poor experience all round.

In Ipswich, we have our haircut at an Italian hairdresser and one of the team there spoke to us about our Italian recently.  He mentioned that his wife was in the process of starting up a small business to teach Italian and so we jumped at the opportunity to restart our lessons – something that our Italian friends will be grateful for, I’m sure!  We previously had been using the espresso books, but our lessons had been dotted around these, rather than structured, and we didn’t feel we were learning conversational Italian.  italian coursebookOur new teacher has a slightly different approach and a new book (Contatti 1 Italian Beginner’s Course).  We are looking forward to developing our language skills further….I think our Italian friends are probably looking forward to it even more than we are :). Having had our first lesson, it has reignited our love for Italy and I think will help us to keep the dream alive when we are in England.  Our final help will be a Easy Italian: Photo Phrase Book (Collins) which will apparently help perfect our pronunciation.

(Unhappy) update on Italy

It is not all blue skies, white stone and ambitious plans and unfortunately there are some things that happen that bring you crashing back to reality. I’m not talking about the recent political resignation either, although who knows what impact that will have!

Last weekend, we discovered that the small deposito on our land had been broken into. The thieves had levered the bars from the rear window img_5393and broken through the window to get in. They had rummaged through our stuff and stolen the electrical goods, alcohol and tools. They then walked through the front door to get out. All in all it has cost us 2-3,000 euros.

This is despite the building being secure, alarmed and monitored by the local vigilanze (private security firm) with a ten minute response time.  When we spoke to the security company they said that the alarm must have been switched off since it had not triggered. In fact, the theft was only discovered the next day when our friends popped by to check the place was ok and found it not ok. On reopening the front door, the alarm went off and some considerable time later (and not the ten minutes or so that they are meant to be there), the security firm arrived.

Unfortunately this does make you reconsider some of the decisions you are taking. We have shown a lot of trust during our Italian adventure and this is the third time (and by far the worst) that we have had things stolen from us. It is a very poor part of Italy, times are hard and immigration is hurting since this is one of the spots that illegal immigrants cross from Africa.

It is also the hunting season in Puglia when people are entitled to walk on any land that has not got a full height wall surrounding it. Clearly this allows people to scope out the place too. But the house looks so innocuous so it must have been like Christmas coming early when they found what was inside.

Having had some time to think about it, Maria and I now need to discuss how we react.  We have a lot of good friends in Italy and we do feel that by trusting people we have got further than we would have done otherwise.  You also shouldn’t let a few mishaps change the way you feel about something.

But we do need to react to minimise the risk of recurrence.  So we are considering changing our plans slightly to make sure that we can finish off the build and get the house ready without any more unfortunate incidents. In the past we had thought that the wall surrounding all of the land would be built after the house was completed but we now think that we are likely to be continually broken into while the house is being finished. We need to discuss further with our builders but it is likely that we need to make the site completely secure with the wall, gates, CCTV, alarms and a reliable security company (and just to be clear, we are not saying the previous company aren’t reliable just that we need to check this rather than assuming it).

Anyway, Mariadz life is not all perfect but we will get over the obstacles that get in our way to move onwards and upwards.


Build in Puglia – Trullo complete

The build continues in Puglia and Massimo and the team are making great progress.

We are now nearing the end of the Rustic phase and all the cones are complete inside and out. And they look AMAZING!

The scaffolding is down and they can now be seen in all their glory. I have mentioned before that in the completed house they trullo will be a single master bedroom. As you walk into the area through a corridor, there will a dressing table on the right with the entire cone to the left set out as a walk in wardrobe.
img_5387Walking through to the main cones, on the right will be the doorway to the gardens and on the left will be the bedroom with a large bed taking up most of the space. In the next set of cones will be sinks and again to the left the toilet and bath shower. All of these will have the fantastic inner cones to look up into. Cheeky alert – no more counting ceiling tiles for the ladies, we are so considerate we have come up with a beautifully crafted ceiling for you to look at…. 😉

It has taken a long time and our builders have shown a lot of patience as we have slowly got the money together to build the house. We still have money to pay which will all be paid by April. After that comes the really exciting stage of completion where we choose windows, doors, the plumbing and electrical work gets done and the heating/cooling is finalised. We still have a lot of work and money to go but the end is in sight.trullo mariadz

Trulli Mariadz – the build takes shape

We have returned to italy after a few months to the most exciting part of the build from our perspective, the building of the trullo cones by Trullidream construzione.

imageThe house is really taking shape away and the “rustic” build will be completed in the coming months.  This is the build of the walls and roofs, the framework for the home. The completion part of the build is the next phase when the doors, windows and internals are all completed.

The roof for the main part of the building has been in place for some time and our intention is to put a lot of solar power up there. This will help with the bills, to say the least, since we expect the power consumption of the house to be quite high.  In the picture the curved areas of the roof would be nearly all solar panels.  This would be hidden from anyone staying at the house.  Our plan would also to be to have a reasonably sized generator hidden around the side which would automatically kick in if there was a power issue.  The flat parts of the roof could have been a roof terrace but we understand that the health and safety issues would be too great so the roof will be off limits unfortunately.  One thing you can see from the view is that the building is about the same height as the olive trees and when up the all you can see is trees for a distance around the house. imageLooking over the trullo area of the build is not quite complete and Massimo at Trullidream Construzione has said that the outside of the cones will be dressed by the end of October.  Already you can see what these will look like and they will be an amazing sight.  As you can see the structure for all six cones is now in place and the outside will have the same uniform structure. Maria is now at the stage of thinking about the decoration at the top of each of the cones, there are a number of standard shapes traditionally used in the area and Maria is currently considering whether to have a cross on one of the central cones surrounded by the balls on the others.  Again this is something that needs to be agreed with the team doing the build and we are keen to keep the traditional feel of the trullo so will take advice.  Finally, and considering the recent earthquake in central Italy, the stone structure of the trullos has been reinforced with concrete anti-earthquake pillars.  Let’s hope we never need to see how well they work but it is reassuring that the possibility of earthquakes has been factored into the design to make the house safe.

The major progress over the last few months has been around the trullos.  imageIt wasn’t that long ago that all we could see was steel reinforced concrete pillars and we couldn’t wait to see the stone work going up.  Part of this was the concern of whether the space in the trullos would be usable for a master bedroom suite.  A lot of trullos are very small but we wanted this to be unique selling point for the house, with the master suite combining five star luxury with a traditional feel. The outside being all stone will look amazing and the plan is to have a small “English” garden outside of the front of the trullo, partly as a nod to our background but also as a tranquil place combining with the Italian architecture. So we are more than happy with how the outside is taking shape but their was still the niggling concern about the size of the rooms and would it work. Pino, our architect, is a very talented man and so we didn’t have anything to worry image
about.image As you come into the trullo, the first cone to the side is a dressing room which is a good size, especially considering that this is being used for holidays rather than a permanent residence which would have a lot more clothes. The picture shows the corridor to the trullo and this is wider than it looks on the picture. The picture does show the flow into the first set of cones, the bedroom cones and finally the bathroom cones. One thing that cones give is height and this increases the feeling of space in the building.  To be fair this is true throughout the build with three kinds of traditional ceiling designs on show: stellar, curved and trullo cone.  All of these give height to the room.

Returning to the trullo, we couldn’t be happier with how it is going, they are everything that we imagined although building a trullo from scratch is a skilled task, and hence more expensive, we have to say it is worth every penny. As we start to move forward with the internals of the house we will give more details on the bedrooms, kitchen, lounge and games room as well as the basement which should have a gym and storage.

However, that is all for later blogs. The key to a Mediterranean house is of course the outside living space, since this is where you spend most of your time.  The pool and sun terrace are very important but there are also covered areas outside which provide comfortable areas. The pool was designed to provide swimming, a play area as well as an area for chilling.  It is a standard depth all round which means that we could not have a dive board but does mean that games can be played in the pool without anyone having the disadvantage of the deep end 🙂 we also had the steps extended all the way round so that they became a terrace of sitting which also provides a perfect relaxed area to sit and chat whilst half in the pool.  Finally there is a jacuzzi area in the pool. A large area surrounds the pool which provides space for sun worshipping but also has areas of shade, particularly later in the day when shade may be a requirement.


This shot is taken late in the day when the sun has gone behind the trullo.  The jacuzzi can be seen to the right and the main sunbathing area has already been set up 🙂

Road trip to Italy

Our summer holiday this year was to be off the boat and a trip down to our building project in the South of Italy. Rather than fly and so we could take Bonnie and Clyde with us (and Maria’s best friend Lisa!), we decided to drive down again this time in our own motorhome for the first time. We have done this for the last few years first in a rented motorhome which was old and decrepit but exceptionally expensive to hire, then in a newer one which was kindly lent to us by the motorhome dealer when ours was delayed and wasn’t ready for our holiday. This was great but didn’t have air conditioning in the cab which when the temperatures were pushing 40 degrees Celsius, was quite uncomfortable for everyone especially the cats. Anyway, this year we have the new super MH Mariadz which redefines glamping.

A quick introduction to the motorhome may be in order. imageFirst of all, he is a he! You can’t weigh 4.25 tonnes and be built like a brick….. and be a girl! So he is a big boy that looks after us.

We finally had delivery of the Autotrail Tracker RB (rear bed) in August 2015 just as we returned from our motorhome holiday to Italy. We had upgraded the engine to 150 HP which with the weight is probably the minimum you should really go for. It can sleep six in three double beds: one in the cab, the saloon that converts and an island bed in the rear. There is a small TV that drops down between the two seats in the cab, which swivel. This is an Avtex TV and we did have a problem with it but their customer service was amazing and they replaced the TV without a quibble when we were having a problem with the volume. The quality of the picture is great for a small TV but not quite the cinema experience that you get from the wall mounted 32″ TV in the bedroom. At first we were worried about how the cats would take to the motorhome, they have traditionally been great but the 2015 Italy tour had been a shocking experience with very high temperatures and no opportunity for the cats to get cool. They pretty much spent two days constantly panting and we were worried that they would never want to go near a motorhome again. However, our own one with everything chosen for us and the cats was a different matter entirely and they settle down really well and have their favourite spots. To be fair this probably has something to do with the fact that they pretty much lived on the motorhome for about six weeks at the end of 2015 as the boat was out of action having its electrical system refreshed.

So to get to the holiday…. Maria, as is her want, had pinched some days at the start and at the end of the holiday so that our two week holiday is almost three weeks. The channel tunnel is booked for Wednesday night which gives us a few days to travel down the 1,500 miles to Puglia from Ipswich. Our friend Andrea has asked for some help on the Saturday which means as well as picking up a small car we have to help prep a villa for someone’s holiday. Andrea had been let down and has been so helpful to us that it was the least we could do.

Our routing is to cross the channel and get a hundred miles or so away from Calais. The next day to go via Lyon and the Frejus tunnel through the Alps to get to Northern Italy before travelling down the Autostrada Adriatica which goes the length of Italy down its Eastern coast and includes some stunning views and a view of the sea nearly all of the time. Our last stop was going to be a few hours away from home so that we could get up early and do our chores before dropping the cats off at the house and helping Andrea. You would have thought that with two people who have to plan as their day job most of the year, this simple plan would be a walk in the park but of course, those who know us will know that we try to be a little more spontaneous in life than our jobs allow us to be.

We have plans to leave South Woodham about 3pm (remember how Maria steals time when on holiday?). I have made arrangements during the week to get my handover in place in good time and then work from home on Wednesday cleaning up anything I need to. Unfortunately I will be working whilst on holiday but it shouldn’t be too much time and helps me to make sure that everything keeps ticking over and no one misses me too much :). My boss mentions to me early in the week that he would like a face to face meeting in Ipswich after he arrives on a train at 13:07 and before he goes to a meeting at 13:30. This means I am picking him up from Ipswich station and taking him to the hospital for his meeting and discussing anything on route. Lisa is kind enough to let me borrow her car for this errand after my attempts to discuss doing this conversation over the phone are futile. I am half way to Ipswich when I get the call that the train is delayed and not to bother picking him up. At least I am back in good time for the departure.

As is always the way, the work expands to fill the amount of time and then some, so we are not ready to leave until 3:30pm. We are all aboard and we pull out of Lisa’s road, quick imagechorus of Cliff Richard summer holiday (well we are taking our ‘bus’ to the continent) and we are on our way… the first roundabout where we discover that Maria has left her wedding, engagement and eternity rings on the side! About turn, back to Lisa’s, retrieve rings, check that nothing else has been left and we are ready to go again. Another chorus of Summer Holiday (Lisa still didn’t join in), and we are happily motoring down the A130 and A13 on the start of the 1,500 miles. We are making good progress with 20 miles in 20 minutes before we arrive at a bad queue of traffic. We can tell it is bad because people are out of their cars and discussing how long they have been waiting. We had heard about a bad accident on the bridge the night before but surely this couldn’t still be the same problem. We are stuck for two hours in this queue and find it is all because of the problems at the interchange of the A13 and M25 which is cut down to one lane instead of three. The ironic thing is if we had gone from Ipswich we would have avoided the problem so our attempt to save time backfired. Still in a journey that is likely to take 24 hours of driving, what’s a couple of hours of delay!

We get to the tunnel a couple of hours late but are on a train within 30 minutes including time for Lisa and Maria to go and do some duty free shopping and get some fast food, we will be too late to eat when we get to France. We make good progress in France and are parked up in the bellicourt aire shortly after 11pm. image
The French Aires are brilliant, they are usually quiet areas where motorhomes can park overnight, sometimes with a small charge. There are two motorhomes in this one and we find a good spot where we can settle down for the night. In the morning we let the cats out for a short while before prepping to go. In this time, Clyde caught three mice but didn’t eat them I imagine French mice taste of too much garlic.  This particular aire is excellent because it is on a road that runs parallel to the A26, the main road south from Calais. It is also great because the route back to the motorway goes past an Auchan for fuel and supplies.

The French motorway network is great but expensive and they know you are a captive audience for fuel and food so diesel prices were €1.40 rather than €1.20 in the Auchan. So staying at the aire actually saves you money :). We stock up on essential supplies at Auchan (bread, cheese, pate, mussels, water, wine – go on tell me you are surprised!) and are on the road at 9:30am, again a little later than we intended. The drive through France is uneventful with stops for fuel and opportunities to swap driver and passenger seating so Lisa isn’t stuck in the back all trip. The cats are settled and comfortable like a couple of bookends in their cubby holes overlooking the cab. Bonnie in particular doesn’t move but Clyde spends time up there, time with the rear passenger being fussed and then lies like a dog on the floor near to Maria and Adam. We go through the 13km tunnel through the Alps and we are now on the Italian side. Maria practices her Italian for five minutes, she does this every time we arrive in Italy 🙂 We’re now thinking of where to stop and clearly we will not be making Bologna on the Eastern side of Italy. We are just short of Torino and still in the Alps and decide to find somewhere close to the motorway but secluded so that the cats can get out. Maria finds a camper stop which supposedly costs €10 a night (but in our experience they hardly ever collect) and it is described as “isolated”, perfectfor us. imageIt is in amongst the mountains so the views are stunning. Again there are two vans in there, it looks like an orchard with lots of small trees, not easy for a large motorhome to negotiate. One of the motorhomes is being stored but the other has a dog outside which isn’t on a lead, that will scupper our plans. Maria’s not having that and marches over but I suspect she was very polite and nice when she got there because the other motorhomers said no problem we will keep the dog in and let your cats have free roaming across the site! Of course they did this in French which Maria doesn’t really speak but the effect was the same.  We also discover that isolated doesn’t quite capture the essence of the the hill climb course for the village youngsters as they drive up and down the road at high revs for some time. This is of course a road that Clyde in particular would like to cross to see what is on the other side. Let’s just say that Lisa made it clear to him that he should stay near us! However he now has the devil in him and decides to randomly climb ten foot up each of the trees around the motorhome. A cat that swims and climbs trees, nutter! Bonnie of course is a lady, and everyone knows that ladies would never do such a thing….but it is very tempting and maybe just a stretch up the tree would be OK….that’s probably enough, time for a sleep.

When we arrive it is a little cloudy which spoils the view a little but the next day is clear and sunny and the view is spectacular. Still no time to dawdle, so a few pics and it’s time to head off to try and make up for lost time and get all the way down to Foggia so we don’t have too far to go, and hence an early start on Saturday. This is the day that Lisa has been looking forward to, the fabled Autostrada Adriatica with the blue and green sea on one side and villages clinging onto mountain sides overlooking the stunning view. However, in Northern Italy at this time it is cloudy with occasional rain which somewhat limits the view. Quite early on we get a message from Andrea saying that we can stand down for work on Saturday which means we now only need to arrive before 1pm to collect the hire car. That changes our plans, rather than driving for ages to get to Foggia we can take our time and have a stop a little earlier leaving more driving for the next day. Maria does some research and finds what looks a lovely stop in amongst the Apennine mountains that run the length of Italy. imageIt is our first visit into this mountain range, we understand you can ski there during the winter so that will be on the list at some stage. We are driving up into the mountains and the satnav tells us to take a right up a very steep hill to get to the site. I don’t notice a draining dip at the bottom of the hill and as the rear wheels go into this there is a nasty scrape as the fibreglass shell at the rear makes contact with the road. Now one thing our yachtmaster taught us is that making contact with the ground is not a good thing, at least not in our boat (or motorhome). Maria gets out to investigate. You’d better take a look! Heart in mouth I step down from the cab ( why didn’t I look at the dip, why didn’t I just bail and not go for the hill, how bad is this going to be….). I am relieved to find that the rear bumper is not hanging off and in fact it just looks MH Mariadz is just sitting nonchalantly on her rear corner. However, as I found when I had the lotus, roads do a lot of damage to fibre glass so we need to think about how we get out of this. In the end we deployed our levelling ramps so that we could go backwards onto these lifting the rear and mitigating the dip of the storm drain. We get out of it and Maria reports that it looks like we haven’t had too much damage, we can check that out later. We are all a little shook up but continue because the site looks good and clearly it must be accessible for motorhomes. As we are trying to find our way I take a diversion onto a mountain pass which is very thin with a rock face on one side and a wall protecting you from a severe drop, think end of the Italian job. I so much don’t want to be here but there is no way I can turn around and a lot of traffic going both ways. I am going through tunnels in the mountains and am fortunate that i am meeting other vehicles at the right places or I would be trying to reverse with a queue of traffic down meanering thin roads with motorhome-wrecking objects on both sides. We get to a passing spot and I let five cars go by. We take a look and decide that this is our opportunity to do a three (ish) point turn. Maria and Lisa get out and stop the traffic while I attempt to do the turn without damaging anything under the watchful eye of the mountain goats. Actually the manoeuvre goes without a hitch and we are now returning down the really small roads with cars coming up but hey we’ve done this before. At this stage I discover that I had nothing to worry about previously. Far from it being difficult to bring a motorhome up the road it is actually quite easy to bring a coach up there too. Now we are in trouble. I get around some very thin stuff before the oncoming coach is upon us and I have found a patch of road a little wider. I reverse so as to get as close as I can to the wall but the coach driver is not at all worried, he has been here before and throws it around us with barely a pause and we continue. Back through the thin tunnel with not enough room to pass, nothing coming the other way, phew. That’s it, we are bailing on this stop and need to find somewhere else to go.

I may not have mentioned that just before we came off the motorway we tried to fill up with fuel but the station was out of fuel. Still we had a range of well over 100 miles so we will just fill up at the next place. After our fun and games the range is down to 34 miles. Maria selects a new destination which looks good and is 25 miles away. Time to go to fuel saving mode especially as the van tells me that we are low on fuel and refuses to give me any more idea of how many miles we have to go, sulking I guess. After more mountain roads which are in terrible condition we get onto a main road. Surely there will be a petrol station. After several miles, when actually the range came back to life and suggested 60 miles before changing its mind and sulking again, we find a petrol station and are able to fill up. We now can go back to our journey without any fears. The stop Maria has selected appears to be in a hotel with a spot that overlooks a football pitch so a good space for the cats. We get there, it isn’t quite as it has been portrayed. On the approach there are two youngish African ladies wearing relatively little just standing by the side of the road. Hmm maybe this hotel rents rooms by the hour! We drive up the slope to the hotel and find what looks to be a converted residence with washing hanging outside. This isn’t the right place, there isn’t a football pitch for a start. As we are starting to drive away I spotted a drive way, well a path through the trees. I go to investigate on foot because I don’t fancy another tricky piece of driving tonight. As I get to the bottom I see a football pitch with some hard standing next to it that has seen better days. imageBut it is completely empty and there is lots of space for the cats. I return to the van and come up with a way to get into the tight entrance. We get down there and it is perfect. The girls are worried that they are going to get killed in their beds but we have an alarm on the van so at least we will wake up for it! Needless to say there are no problems overnight and the cats get some quality time outside. Even better, on inspection the rear quarter is undamaged, we stopped immediately we heard the noise and fortunately before anything disasterous happened – result.

The next morning is also bright and sunny but cold at 14 degrees, we came to Italy for the heat but the mountains are cold overnight and then heat up during the day.  Anyway, where we are going it is going to be hot, hot, hot.

After an hour of driving, we are back on the Adriatica but the satnav is telling me that we are likely to arrive at about 12:30, quite close to our 1pm deadline. There are a couple of milestones as you come down the road, the first is entering Puglia and the second is when you see Brindisi on the road signs. We get to Bari mid Saturday morning, this is not a good time to get to Bari. The signs tell us that there is slow traffic for 40kms. That is going to cause us some problems. Maria’s suggestion is that I speak to the non English speaking person at Sixt car hire in Mesagne and explain the situation in my faltering Italian. I am saved by the bell when the very nice lady at Sixt, Brindisi airport, calls me to ask if it would be possible to pick the car up from the airport so that the team at Mesagne can go home. Brilliant, that is 30 minutes closer, and on our way. Moods are improved and I haven’t had to completely embarrass myself by phoning them up, and lower myself in Maria’s estimation who seems to think that I would have no problem with this conversation.

Undeterred, Maria points out that we are likely to have no water and so I still need to phone Guiseppe, lovely guy who also does not speak English, and discuss him delivering water to us after we have been shopping and got to the house. I wait until we get to Auchan in Mesagne to make that call and by some miracle we seem to get the message across and he arrives ten minutes after we get to the villa.

We have travelled 1,600 miles in just under three days and it has been remarkably comfortable and stress free.

The cats have been impeccable during the day, just chilling or taking some time for attention. The evening is a different story. We know that Bonnie normally starts the trouble and then when Clyde gets wound up she runs away. She then sprints to her safe zone which is mum and dad’s bed at 2am, and 4am, and 6am. Aren’t they precious :).  We also had to tell Lisa about this since she slept through their games.

We are now in Puglia for the next few weeks. The build looks amazing (another update to follow) and the weather is fantastic. Just a little work to do to keep things ticking over and a lovely rest.

Trulli Mariadz build – update

We have described previously the ambitious build we have planned in Puglia. The plan is to have our roots in Southern Italy where the people are so friendly.  The cost of living is a lot lower than the UK and it is possible to buy a nice retirement property for the price of a flat in Southern England. It is also easy for a pension to go a lot further than in the UK. Did I mention the weather is a lot better too? And the food and the wine….. So lots of great reasons to try Puglia!

My parents had a similar dream but wanted to live amongst the Spanish in Spain – rather than in an English resort in Spain. They have retired to Extramadura where they have been embraced by the Spanish and have learnt the language. We intend to do the same (except learn Italian 🙂 ) in our own small corner of paradise. The advantage of doing the build early is that it gives us an income during the summer months and Trulli Mariadz will be available to rent for a number of years.  Please book early to avoid disappointment, maybe wait until it is finished though 🙂

The project has been underway for a couple of years with Trulli Dream Constuction.  Now it should be said that the pace of construction has been slowed by us and not by the Italian company. We also talk about ‘Italian Time’ which in our experience is generally the exact time you say, ‘English Time’ seems to be a little after the arranged time…so that is another stereotype blown!

We have been very happy with the company building for us and know the family well. As part of this we have put our trust in our Italian team and Angelo Epifani trullo for saledeserves a special mention for being so amazingly helpful and kind to us over a number of years. He is one of the leading estate agents and works at Oasi dei trulli immobiliare (the link shows the current available property in Puglia and the picture above is just one of the properties that is for sale at the moment) with a complete knowledge of the area combined with an honest assessment of the pros and cons of each property.  We have also found Massimo and Pino very helpful and hard working throughout the process. One piece of advice we would give on this is that the people who have struggled buying property in Italy have generally tried to impose UK property practices  over the top of the Italian way. One even instructed a UK solicitor. We have found that element of trust and faith helps immeasurably and promotes the goodwill that is always required in any successful transaction.

For instance our planning permission required a large number of updates and negotiation to pass through planning control, which still took two years.  Without Pino’s commitment and constant visits to the office this would have been impossible. I’m sure his wife thought he had moved out at times since he was spending so much time in the office. Then the build started with a documented timeline.  Unfortunately we had to delay the build after we had started while we got some money together and Massimo, our Geometra, was very understanding and flexible. The great thing is that we are having the building work done by new found friends who are as excited about the project as we are. That shared vision combined with commitment and honesty has resulted in a trouble free process.

The design of the house was a combination of some ideas that we had from the UK and local building designs. The master suite consists of a six cone trulliimage with a bathroom, seating area with fireplace, dressing room as well as the bedroom itself. This is the last part of the build to be started and the stones that comprise the round houses has been delivered and the work will start as soon as the weather improves enough. To the rear of the trulli is a private ‘English Country’ garden with a grassed area. This will be our little homage to our home country with all other aspects being from our adopted home.

The rest of the house is pretty much complete. To provide greater privacy the rooms adjacent to the master suite are the dining room and the utility room. These will not be used all of the time and means this part of the house will be tranquil and quiet.

imageMoving round to the front of the house, there is a large entrance area with seating which is flanked by the kitchen and study/additional bedroom. This part of the build are all lamia with curved ceilings.  In front is the lounge area with a small games room to the left, with our pool table from the UK! Between the kitchen and dining room is a staircase down to a small basement which will have a storage area and some gym equipment, useful for people who can’t resist the pasta but still want to get into their clothes at the end of the holiday! imageFrom the entrance to the right is the corridor that leads to the remaining bedrooms, study, main bathroom and garage. The two bedrooms that face the rear of the property have star ceiling designs, as well as their own private seating area under shade.

Returning to the centre of the house, as you head out towards the pool there is a large fixed structure with star ceiling designs providing a covered outdoor area that is usable all year round. The patio area leads to the swimming pool. The left side of this is a large area of steps which will allow people to be in the pool sitting and chatting if they like.  The rest of the pool is one level and so ideal for games but IMG_4310not for diving. Finally there is a jacuzzi within the pool which maybe a good spot to watch the games for those less energetic.

To the right of the pool is the outside kitchen area which allows al fresco cooking and includes an oven for pizzas.

The whole build is surrounded by several hundred olive trees, which are cultivated and harvested in the traditional way and also provides the delicious Mariadz Olive Oil. There are also a number of fruit trees dotted around including Cherry, grapevines, fig, orange and lemon, required for Mariadz Limoncello.

At the front of the house is another staircase which goes up to the roof.  imageThis area can be used as another private sunbathing area although some of the roof is sectioned off for the solar panels that help to provide the power for the house. The roof also offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside with the entire area covered with Olive trees and a few small houses dotted around. One of these is the piccolo casa. A self contained one bedroom apartment on the other side of the driveway.

The entire plot is surrounded by a traditional wall and privacy screen with automatic gates at the entrance. A 24 hour security team is in place that monitor the alarm systems and respond very quickly as required. There is also CCTV to the outside areas which again adds to the security.

The pictures show that the build is well under way and hopefully it wont be long until it is completed.  I will update as we make more progress.  Anyone interested in learning more about Puglia and what is available please contact Angelo ( who will be very pleased to help no matter what the budget. I’m sure if you mention Maria and Adam, he will be especially helpful 🙂


trullo mariadz

Trulli Mariadz – an introduction

It was September 2009 when we were first introduced to Puglia.  Maria had been working in London and speaking to someone who had honeymooned in Puglia, by the time they had returned they had fallen in love with the area so much that they had bought a small holiday home.  On the back of that, Maria decided to book a long weekend in Italy and got in touch with an Englishman who introduced us to two Estate Agents, one in the North and one in the South of Puglia. 5italy-puglia-alberobello-i-trulliThe two parts are quite different with the southern part being quite flat and filled with Olives. We found that Northern Puglia was served very well by Bari Airport, easily reached from the UK and the southern part by Brindisi airport, accessible from Stansted for us.

We stayed at Alberobello which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and features architecture unique to this part of the world – the Trullo. This type of building is built of stone and has a stone conical roof. Made of limestone they start a light brown colour but then turn to grey over time.  alberobelloAlberobello was a “must see” for us but it is a tourist centre and not somewhere that we would consider living despite its beauty.

So having seen some properties in the North and not having been inspired, we drove south to San Michele Salentino.  Here we met an amazing man called Angelo Epifani who works at SEFIM.  At this stage we hadn’t started Italian lessons and Maria’s Italian was limited to saying that someone had nice eyes or a nice rear end! That wasn’t going to get us too far!  Angelo showed us a number of properties from aderelict 100 year old Trullo to more modern villas.  Our hearts were set on a Trullo and so we refined the search.

There were a number of trips to Puglia over the coming months and we are proud to count Angelo as a friend. Within a year we had decided on a renovation project, the building had been on sale for three years.  Before buying we wanted to have some plans for what we would do for the renovation.  We spoke to Pino from TrulliDream who helped us formalise our ideas for the property.  Once we had our plans in place and we knew we could afford the project we moved forward with the offer.  This was accepted but before we could pay our deposit, which in Italy makes the contract binding (or lose the 10% deposit), we were told somebody else had also put an offer in on the house and were asked to increase our offer.  We agreed with Angelo that we weren’t prepared to get into a bidding war and pulled out.

We then decided that we hadn’t really seen a place that we felt that we could convert to be what we wanted and so took the unusual step of deciding to build a brand new home to be designed and built by TrulliDream.  It took a lot of work with Pino to come up with a design that we were happy with (and could afford!).  After a lot of viewings of different landscapes with Angelo and of course Lisa Jones one of very close and dearest friends who accompanied us, we had found some land, a beautiful plot of olives in 16,000 sq metres. However the buying process for this probably took nearly a year!  The process of planning permission in Italy is very long winded too and we are indebted to Pino for his hard work and perseverance to make sure that the design was approved.  This took the best part of two years, and I have the utmost respect for Pino and his patience to continue to ensure that the planning permission was successful.  In August 2013, we finally had permission to build our dream home.  Massimo Epifani at TrulliDream, Pino’s brother has been working hard with us to keep the build on track, which has mostly been delayed due to us or the weather – we have no complaints about Italian building companies or the builders themselves.

As you can see the construction is going really well and the next stage will be building the Trullo which will be at the right hand side of the picture above.

Our experience of building a home in Italy has taken time but has been a very positive experience with some great people.  We would recommend it to anyone.

One word of caution though as someone from England buying in Italy.  The Italian process is completely different and the people that we have known who have had trouble have invariably tried to force the Italians to work in an English way. We love Italy and the people so we have been happy to work with them and that has helped the success of our project to date. I would also add that it takes time and although the prices are good, if you want something fast you have to be prepared to spend a little more.

Welcome to the Mariadz website

Hi everyone,

So this is the start of a new adventure for us.  The plans to sail around the world have been in place for five years now but this is our first opportunity to discuss the trials of how we got here :).  Firstly, why Mariadz:

  1. It’s a combination of Maria and Adam (or Adz)
  2. It’s recognition that from the first moment Maria met Adam, all she ever wanted to do was marry Adz!


In 2015 we sold our gorgeous six bedroom home in West Bergholt,  Essex.  We had many great parties at the house and will miss the built in DJ decks, pool table, hot tub and huge TV with cinema sound.  Funnily enough we don’t miss it but we had some great times.

We now live on SY Mariadz while we save the money to allow us to give up work and go travelling. How can someone give up work, we are not rich.

So we have been saving whatever money we have left and building a house in Italy.  trullo mariadzThe plan is that this beautiful holiday home (plug-plug) will rent out during the summer and the income for this will keep us in beans and rice.  It’s a plan 🙂

It does take time though, it took a year to buy the land and then two years for planning permission, the build has also taken a number of years so it looks like the house will be ready from 2017 (so get in quick with your bookings).

For the time being, we have also bought a motorhome so that we are not chained to the boat at the moment.  IMG_3326[1]This helps us with our frequent trips to Puglia and also gives us another retreat. It is an Autotrail tracker RB with a few creature comforts added. We will also document some of the fun and games we have in the motorhome. No prizes for guessing that it is also called Mariadz by the way 🙂

Now how can I get through so far into this post and I haven’t mentioned our four gorgeous kids (the pic may be a little old, but they were cute then :)). DSC00383

This was when we went on a tour to india and met up with a lot of really good friends.  They are from left to right: Amie, Matthew, Kristy and Rachel.  Amie and Kristy are Maria’s twins and Matthew and Rachel are Adam’s children.  This picture was taken back in 2007 when the girls were all 13 and Matt was 11.  They have changed since then – we may blog about them at some stage (if we are allowed!).

There are two other members of our family….. our two gorgeous cats: Bonnie and Clyde.  These are two ragdolls, born in 2010.  They have their own facebook page!  They are very affectionate and important members of our crew.

And this is where all of the fun will be had, our 2001 Moody 54, Mariadz – extensively refitted, and more of that as we blog.


So a lot for us to talk about, hopefully some of it will be interesting for people to see!

Whatever you are doing, have fun 🙂

Adam and Maria

SY Mariadz