After almost a decade living and working in New York City, we both craved a change—space, room to grow our own food, fresh air, quiet, simplicity. Many things about living in the beautiful chaos of New York no longer fit us, so to satisfy our wandering minds we booked one-way tickets to Italy, where we both have strong heritage and roots, to explore the country farm by farm. We traveled throughout the beautiful regions, from blood orange groves in Sicily to tiny cabins in Tuscany to the bustling cities up north. Of all the stunning and culturally-rich places we spent time, choosing our new home was easy and obvious to us: Ostuni. After working on a small farm in the nearby countryside and experiencing the charm of this incredible Pugliese town, we felt at home and knew we had to find one of those little white stone houses and make it ours. So we started plotting and planning and sorting out how in the world we could make this work…
Flash forward a few years: we now own a beautiful country home right in the middle of Valle d’Itria (Itria Valley). Our stone house overlooks an olive grove and is surrounded by friendly Italian neighbors and lots (and lots and lots) of fruit trees. After being abandoned for over 10 years, we worked tirelessly for two years to repair walls and update both the interior & exterior with our own hands and our own ideas. We had a vision and we’ve taken the time to source pieces that reflect our desire to highlight the true rustic beauty of southern Italy. White walls, blue doors, open kitchen. The blood, sweat and tears we put into this home pays off every day. Our private road is quiet and peaceful but with enough activity on our land to keep us busy. Our days are both relaxed and exciting: we usually start with a long walk through the olive trees and trullo-scattered countryside with our sweet dog, Bowie, before running out for outdoor market shopping in nearby Cisternino or Ostuni, having afternoon wines and coffees with neighbors and friends, working on our vegetable garden; making pizza, bread or cake in our outdoor forno, drinking wine on our terrace under the stars.
Laura has been traveling to Italy since she was a child. Her mother began bringing the family over when Laura was just 10 years old and they saw the country one region at time: from Sicily to Umbria to Sardegna to Tuscany. Her mother, Susan, is an Italian teacher back in the states and has dedicated her life to Italian education. Laura has picked up her mother’s beautiful accent over the years and her ear for the language came in quite handy in our early days. We have the luxury of being able to partner with Susan & Steve of Aberrant Adventures when planning trips. They have over 30 years of experience executing seamless tours ranging from small private vacations to group tours of 30+ students. We are fortunate to be able to draw from their wealth of knowledge and decades of experience to ensure beautiful experiences for our clients.
Jim’s roots are Sicilian and Napolitano. He remembers his great grandmother’s Sunday lunches in Rochester, New York with his large Italian American family, which were eerily similar to our Sunday lunches with our new Italian friends and family here. Jim was the first member of his family to set foot in his great grandparent’s home village in Sicily after over 100 years. The moment he landed in this country something called to his soul - and after the Terranovas fled so many years ago, he is proud to be and Italian citizen and calling Italy home again. Most importantly he has finally learned the meaning of some of the naughty Sicilian dialect words he heard growing up.
Puglia is rich in tradition. It’s a place where culture is built on hospitality, where the most important conversation of the day is often what you’ll be eating and with whom, where wine flows freely (and cheaply), where fruit grows in abundance around every corner, falling off the heavy trees and into your lap, where the sea is a piercing turquoise, a color so intense you can hardly believe you’re allowed to go in, where coastline is always in the near distance, where the peaceful olive trees are overwhelming in number.
We were welcomed to Ostuni by happy and generous farmers, always sharing a good bottle of Primitivo and chatting away over homemade food straight from their backyard. The warmth in this countryside emanates as much from the spirit of the people here as it does from the bright sun and sea breeze. I imagine every new guest in Puglia is welcomed, more or less, as we were: with smiles, open arms, good wine, fresh food. We want to do the same with our home. When you have good company, good food, good wine and a place to lay your head in southern Italy, you don’t need much else.