Finally “The Big Day” had finally arrived, when we were to go to the “Notaio’s” office to autograph the paperwork to make the “casale” our own.
The appointment was set for 7 pm, and we spent the afternoon nervously trying to waste time before eventually meeting up with Giampiero, who was to kindly chauffeur us to the lawyer’s office. Having pressed the intercom buzzer we were swiftly ushered into the dark, sombre waiting area. The vendors were already there, accompanied by their elderly uncle. His nephew Marcello, was an engineer from Turin and seemed a pleasant enough chap, and his niece, Ilaria, a farmacist from Trieste. From the start the niece came across as being rather aloof, prim and proper and was not at all keen to establish eye contact. I sensed that the atmosphere was decidedly glacial, despite our attempts to thaw the ice with a little polite small talk. The long uncomfortable silences were only broken periodically by the chugging of the ailing air-conditioning unit.
The “Notaio” seemed ill-prepared, as he scanned the new documents, and proceeded to pronounce that certain papers were not in order. It then became exceptionally confusing and difficult to follow the proceedings, as there were three sets of heated conversations all taking place at once. With everyone speaking at the same time, for us it was thoroughly incomprehensible. We sat there perplexed until Rocco was able to clarify the situation to us. We were so appreciative that he had kindly made himself available to assist us as we certainly would not have got by without him.
It appeared that certain documentation had been presented to the “Notaio” at the very last minute. The former owner of the property, the late father of Marcello and Ilaria, had prepared a Will, before he had suddenly passed away. He had left the “casale” and the land jointly to his widow, and to their son and daughter. The wife had, however, then renounced her share of the inheritance, thus ownership had then passed directly to the two children. Yet it seemed there were certain discrepancies in the Will, in particular with relation to the numbered plots of land and the house which did not correspond with the details on the Land Registration documentation. Yet we were informed that this was not, in theory, a difficult problem to resolve. It only required the vendors to present themselves at the “Agenzia dell’Entrate” to make an official declaration and to make the apropropriate payment.
As you may recall, there was a “Livello” attached to one piece of the land, historically connected to the church. We had agreed to purchase the property with this “Livello” still on the Deeds, having taken advice from several professional sources that we could get this annulled ourselves at some later stage, for a reasonably minor cost. However, to our horror and disbelief we were then notified, at the very last hour, that there were two additional livello’s attached to other plots of land. This time they were linked to the local comune or town council. Incredulously we asked: “Why were we not informed of this before?” “Why had we not had access to this paperwork?” “How could this have happened for goodness sake?”
Eventually we became aware that “Notaio” had somehow managed to “overlook” certain matters. We suspected that the vendors, especially the cunning Ilaria, was well aware of this, but had hoped that perhaps, as we were “unsuspecting foreigners”, it could have gone without notice. Needless to say we were much displeased with the situation. You may be forgiven for thinking that the vendors should have resolved all these snags before even putting the property on the market. But No !!! … This is Italy !!!
There followed several more minutes of highly animated, multi-conversations, until at last Rocco decided it was time to take control, and consulted with the “Notaio” as to how these problems could be ironed out. It was decided that the vendors would have to go to the local “Comune” the following day and apply to get the “Livelli” cancelled. It would be a simple enough procedure to submit such an application, however we were advised that it could take some months to conclude the matter. A substantial payment would also be required which was calculated by some weird and wonderfully complicated formula. Ilaria then began a vociferous altercation as to just who should pay these additional costs. When I firmly stated that we had agreed a set price, and that the problems with their documentation were nothing to do with us, she became particularly venomous. Things reached fever pitch and the situation became more absurd by the second. Finally the “Notaio” abruptly adjourned the meeting, leaving the vendors to resolve all of these additional “piccoli problemi”.
We were left feeling downcast and thoroughly depressed. We had failed to complete the transaction despite having seemingly jumped through hoops to get all of our documentation in order. Later Rocco likened the uncompromising Ilaria to a cold-blooded “vipera” !!! We drove back to the agency with Giampiero who explained again just what had transpired during the meeting. Suddenly I felt it was just all too much and found myself bursting into floods of tears. Whilst I sobbed Giampiero kept apologising profusely for the huge “Cassino”, or mix up, and tried desperately to console us. Vanquished, we returned to our temporary rented abode and proceeded to drown our sorrows in red wine.
The following day we talked once more with Giampiero and decided to offer to meet fifty percent of the additional costs. Yet we were somewhat doubtful as to whether the vendors would agree to this proposition. Perhaps Ilaria would insist on pulling out of the deal completely. So once again we found ourselves “treading water”, in trepidation that we might have to commence the whole process of house-hunting all over again. Perhaps it was fate, and that after all the “casale” was just not meant to be ours ?
More fraught days followed as we waited for the town hall to produce a letter certifying that the Livelli could, in point of fact, be revoked. Without this piece of paper the two portions of land in question could not be sold. Opportunely the said document was speedily attained and then presented to the “Notaio” for his perusal. It was then down to him to pronounce whether the sale of these plots of land could go ahead. Eventually the positive news came through that he was satisfied with the new documentation.
Notwithstanding, in the interim, the conspiring Ilaria, had telephoned Giampiero to pronounce that she would not sell the property to us at all, unless we agreed to pay the extra costs in full. Also she declared that she and her brother would definitely not be available for a second meeting with the notaio that week. We were infuriated by their attitude. They were without doubt pushing things too the extreme !!! Was it because we were foreigners? What did they want from us ………. “sangue” – blood ?
We took some significant time to deliberate the situation. If we walked away from the purchase now, as we certainly felt like doing, we would have to start the whole process of house hunting again. We had already lost one property that we had intended to buy, when it was suddenly taken off the market just before we arrived in Italy. We had already trudged around practically all the properties available in the local area. Most of these we had considered to be too pricey and newer houses with relatively small pieces of land attached, had no possibility of perhaps being able to extend in the future. The weeks were relentlessly ticking by and our funds were slowly but steadily being consumed. We had just organised a big money transfer from pounds sterling into euros and these funds were now sitting idle in an Italian bank account earning us little or no interest. My parents were desperate to come over to Italy, as soon as was humanly possible, so that we could all be reunited.
It must be said that Giampiero did not put us under any pressure whatsoever to buy the property, in fact he had gone out of his way to help us. He was not at all like the stereotypical pushy estate agent. He truly wanted us to succeed in our dream of relocating to Italy and settling into a fresh way of life. He was deeply troubled by the behaviour of the vendors, as they had shown such a “brutta figura”, and said he could quite understand if we decided that enough was enough. However he did say that so many properties for sale in Italy came with similar problems in one way or another – in Italy things are always far more complicated than they should be. We were concerned that even if we agreed to pay the extra costs in full, there was still the risk that the covetous Ilaria could raise the stakes yet again … and just where would it all end?