Family Days Out
Local Festivals & Events
Lucy and I met in 1993 when we both joined Lloyd's of London on an IT Graduate Training Scheme. We started dating in 1995 and, even after Lucy tried to escape by moving to live in Brussels, Belgium for a couple of years, we got married in 1999.
We both enjoy travelling and have visited many countries together, usually visiting places slightly off the main tourist route. Lucy has also previously spent a year living in Spain (as part of her language degree) and Japan (teaching English as a foreign language). So we have always entertained and talked about the idea of eventually living outside the UK - preferably somewhere with a warmer climate!
In the UK we both worked as IT Consultants putting in long hours on stressful projects, frequently on client sites many miles from home. When we had children, Lucy took a local job working on IT Development for the Distance Learning faculty with the School of Oriental and African Studies. However, the local office closed and she was soon transferred back to working in Central London.
Whilst we both thoroughly enjoyed our jobs, once we had a family we struggled to find the work / life balance we craved. I, in particular, was finding that I was leaving home before Millie and Freya were awake in the mornings and getting back when they were already in bed. By the weekends I was usually shattered after a busy week and not always especially happy to be woken early on a Saturday morning by two bouncing children demanding play time!
The time had come for a change of lifestyle...
Most of our discussions about potential places to live centred around Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Lucy studied French and Spanish at university and so France and Spain were early contenders. We had had a holiday cottage near the Loire Valley in France for a number of years (shared with Lucy's siblings and a couple of cousins) but it kind of felt like Provence and the Languedoc were already "old hat" and out of our budget. Northern Spain, particularly the Galicia or Catalonia regions were also strong options. And then we had our first holiday to Italy in 2006 when Millie was just 10 months old.
Lucy and I had been to Italy on holiday before and had a great time exploring Tuscany. But Italy with children is a whole different ball game. Two events in particular did much to persuade us that Italy was THE place to raise our family. First, we went to dinner one evening at a fairly fancy restaurant in Santa Maria di Castellabate (Campania) and Millie was refusing to fall asleep in her pushchair. Having taken turns to push her around trying to settle her down during our starters, our main meals arrived at the table. I stood up to take my turn with the pushchair but the waiter told me to sit down, took the pushchair and proceeded to push Millie around the restaurant whilst he took orders and delivered them to the kitchen. 10 minutes later he returned with Millie fast asleep! A couple of days later we decided to spend the day exploring Naples and, slightly traumatised by the driving when we had landed at the city's airport the week before, we decided to get the train from Agropoli to Naples. Having had an exhausting day exploring the hussle and bustle of Naples, we got on the train home. Just across the aisle from us were three suited and booted businessmen on their way home from a meeting. Millie had decided that she wanted to stand up rather than sit in her pushchair and needless to say fell over when the train set off landing on one of the men's feet. Before we could apologise he swept her up, put her on his knee and started singing an Italian nursery rhyme to her. For the next 90 minutes, the businessmen passed Millie around between them, taking turns to entertain her and sing songs. The older man said that his son had moved to Milan and he had a granddaughter about the same age as Millie who he didn't see as often as he wanted.
It was clear to us that the Italian way of life and the importance of family was exactly what we were looking for. But if Italy was the country for us then which of its regions should we call home?
Having decided that Italy was for us, the next decision was which region would be then one for us. We love Milan, Florence and Rome - but Lucy and I both prefer the peace and quiet of the countryside over city life. Over the next few years we visited several parts of Italy, including Campania, Rome, Milan, Sicily and Tuscany. We soon decided that the climate of Southern Italy was probably a better match for us. Then in 2011 we came to Puglia for the first time.... and we were hooked.
It is hard to explain quite what excited us about Puglia. Obviously the weather is good, the food is delicious, the local wines are excellent, the beaches are superb, the towns are amazing with so much history, great architecture, amazing artwork, etc - but that is the same across the whole of Italy. I think really it is down to how relaxed and laid-back life is down here in the south. A sense that family comes first and everything else has to work around that. It just felt like home - even though everyone spoke a different language and it was so different to almost everything about our lives in England!
Now we just needed to find somewhere to live!!