This is the story of how we ended up in the Italian countryside.
We had many productive working years as physical therapist and physician in Larvik, Norway, with our patients well-being as our main priority. We had an amazing home right on the ocean, it was a wonderful place to live and a perfect place for raising three active children. They had lots of space for running around and building tree houses. Spare wood for the childrens to use was never a problem, because we always had some project going, in the house or in one of our cabins. We both loved construction, no wonder our son ended up as a carpenter. And our two daughters always have a paint can in hand or some other remodelling project going in their respective homes.
Norwegian health care was changing, and our patients burdens were weighing on our shoulders. Being caregivers was getting less rewarding. Some of our friends got serious, life threatening illnesses - and then it hit us; Our lives will not last for ever! Why not do something completely different, while we still have our health, our strength and our determiniation?
Eva was reading the book "Casa Lauro" by a Norwegian journalist, Cecilie Tanderø, who lost her partner and tried to cope with her loss by spending a year in Italy. Umbria to be exact. The read was inspiring, and even though Eva had no great loss to mourn, maybe it was a loss in itself that her work no longer excited her as it used to. She finished the book and later that same evening she opened the newspaper and an ad immediately caught her eye. An apartment for rent in the very same region Cecilie Tanderø had described so vividly in her book. Not long after, Eva was settled in an apartment in Montefiascone - a mid size city in the north of Lazio, right on the border to Umbria and Tuscany.
Driving around, alone in the beautiful Italian countryside, felt so liberating, and a thought came to mind; could we live here? - could we create a place for family and friends, maybe even a few more?
The thought turned to action, - no need to ask the realtors twice! For three whole days she drove around looking at farms, each one even more runned down than the previous. On the last day, - at the last location, just hours before her flight back to Oslo, - she arrived at Giommetta. A large, 280 year old fruit farm that had been abandoned for ten years. The ivy was growing through the broken glass windows, the doors were partly open. The dirt road going up to the house was almost impassable, but the house was resting on a hill with beautiful open view. It stopped raining and when the evening sun came out from behind the mountains in the west, Eva was in love!
Back in Norway, her husband was on board, a few days later they went back to Italy together to take a closer look at this "ruin" she was so excited about. She was lucky to have a husband that could see possibilities and opportunities rather than limitations,- and that could do so much more than just treat patients!
Six months later Giommetta was ours! Nine acres of fruit and nut trees and one thousand square feet of building mass. A main house, a runned down piggery, an annex with some sort of pizza oven and a small hen house. All overgrown with ivy and weeds, but with beautiful, big cherry and oak trees surrounding the property.
The children all came down in the spring, and our son, Harald Jr, was eager to start the re-building. Harald Sr still had some years left before he could leave his practice and retire. Eva traded her job as a physical therapist in Larvik, for construction manager in Italy. And Harald Jr, the carpenter, got the most demanding and challenging job he'd ever had. He needed to show that he could do more than just carpentry, and so he did - indeed! Without him Giommetta would never have had fascilities such as our own water, geothermal heating, automatic irrigation system and a solar panel farm.
We have had the chance to test our patience with Italian bureaucracy, a foreign language and a whole lot of unpretictable obstacles of various sizes, but our dream and enthusiasm has kept us going forward.
Giommetta has become all that we wanted it to be - and so much more! It's a wonderful place to live!
Come check it out for yourself! - Eva and Harald Groth