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My Big Italian Adventure

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I enjoyed the first episode.    It's a brave thing to do, considering the 1 Euro house is a total wreck, and the house next door was cute, but falling apart too.       I could have done without the yelling, but it was interesting to see the local houses, and meet so many fascinating people.     I loves seeing the stone place.   

Lorraine Bracco also played Angie Harmon's mother on Rizzoli & Isles.  

Edited by CrazyInAlabama
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I've never seen The Sopranos so have never heard of her or seen her act. After listening to her screeching and obnoxious cackling I doubt I'd be anxious to watch anything else with her in it.

Having said that, I muted the sound and enjoyed the show. The contractor is doing amazing work.

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You can tell she's an actor; she was overly dramatic the entire time. All of this is costing less than $500,000 and she's acting like she's spending $5million. 

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5 hours ago, CruiseDiva said:

I've never seen The Sopranos so have never heard of her or seen her act. After listening to her screeching and obnoxious cackling I doubt I'd be anxious to watch anything else with her in it.

Having said that, I muted the sound and enjoyed the show. The contractor is doing amazing work.

Agree about the screeching & cackling, which surprised me because she is very serious in her acting. In fact, she played a psychiatrist in the Sopranos who was extremely low key. She also had a starring role in Goodfellas with Joe Pesci, Robert DeNiro, and Ray Liotta.

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I liked it!  But I would watch any show doing a rehab on old Italian houses.  I also like Lorraine Bracco, so that helps.

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You can tell she's an actor; she was overly dramatic the entire time. All of this is costing less than $500,000 and she's acting like she's spending $5million.

Yep. I watch with the sound off. But ah, Italy.

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I haven't seen this yet but it reminds me of The Brian Boitano Project in which he bought and renovated an Italian home.  I loved that show.  And his cooking show.

I will have to check this out but Lorraine Bracco definitely has a much louder personality than many of her on screen characters.

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Lorraine is not making the mistakes of the Brian Boitano project.

She is friendly with her contractor and he adores her.

She needs to be "in your face" because she eventually has to face the old locals in the village.  

She definitely doesn't want to come across as weak to them. 

This way she won't face the same problems that Brian did.  The locales, especially the old village distant relatives of his,  as you might recall, stole items from the home.  

Brian came across as weak.  NO ONE is going to boss or intimidate Lorraine.

lorraine-bracco-feature.jpg

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I'm heartened to see so many have the same reaction to Lorraine that I did. I was almost going to pass on the next episode, until I read about using the mute button. I'll give it a try!

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I'm thinking about the part of the episode where Lorraine was supposedly surprised that the entire tile floor was ripped up. She didn't seem all that upset (especially considering her personality!) I'm guessing that some of the tiles were in bad shape and the plan from the beginning was to do a faux rug with the good ones. 

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I'm imagining HGTV went to Lorraine with a pitch, to do a TV show and they will provide all the guidance as far as giving her an architect and builder with most of the plans all prepared.  Hell they may be paying for the whole thing, while the town was probably motivated to participate in the show, for the publicity.  Probably helped that Lorraine has been in a famous movie and TV show about Italian-Americans which probably had appeal over there.

I think other Italian towns which offered these 1 Euro houses are doing so because they're depopulating and they're desperate to attract new residents and investors.  They can't renovate the homes themselves nor most of the residents.  So Sambuca wouldn't be one of the first destinations which foreigners would visit in Italy.  But good way for Lorraine to do an HGTV show.

Piero's English is too good for a local.  Wouldn't be surprised if he turned out to be an American whom HGTV hired since he's comfortable on camera.  The construction infrastructure for using natural rock and cleaning up the old tiles seem unlikely for a small town.  It's inland, away from more famous tourist destinations along the coast like Palermo, Trapani, Marsala, Sciacca in Western Sicily.

So maybe they get the fancy building materials and methods in Palermo, which is about an hour away.  Because I don't think the elderly residents are doing fancy almost 6-figure renovations on those old homes.  If the town was more on the beaten path of tourists, there would certainly be more value in renovating homes and marketing them to foreign investors.

I don't know how much 1 Euro was a hook for either HGTV or Lorraine.  She could certainly afford a lot more and if she plans to have her family over there, there are other towns which would be more in demand.  The 1 Euro is an advertising thing for the show but maybe HGTV had to up its budget to pay Lorraine and her Hollywood friends to appear on the show here and there.

Unlike HHI, Lorraine didn't make a deal about the location, like wanting to be in center with the cafes and restaurants.  If she wanted a place in Italy, it would seem like she'd want a place that would give her the glamorized Italian lifestyle, with nice restaurants and cafes around, as well as historic, cultural and natural beauty which Italy has in spades.

She would be able to pay for prime location so the 1 Euro thing is unlikely to be a factor for her.

She's building a dream house, combining two properties into one, so at least twice as big as typical homes in the town and of course with fancy HGTV finishes inside.  Lot of Americans and UK expats have done similar renovations throughout Italy.

But will she actually spend much time there once the cameras are finished filming or she will probably sell it and if she decides she wants a place in Italy, she may be more likely to look for a place in Rome, Venice, Tuscany.  She doesn't have George Clooney money so it wouldn't be some lakeside palazzo in Lake Como. 

 

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Found it, but missed the beginning and haven’t checked it yet. Mute button mandatory. Is the contractor married to the helpful woman who translates for  Lorraine? I‘d watch them every week, living their best Sicilian lives.

I grew up with a ping pong table in our basement. No BFD. Was there something magical about hers? Also, the terrace off the toilet was tiny. OTOH, the views! Bella. Maybe I should play some Puccini during this.

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She supposedly shipped the ping pong table from her home in the US and on the side of it in big letters is Made in Germany. I'm so tired of hearing "ping pong room" like that's a big deal for families. Maybe it is for he and her grandchildren, but how often will the children actually be there? In the end, it turned out to be a nice family room with a ping pong table. I was glad to see sofas and other accoutrements. It's a lovely spot for her and her guests to enjoy whether they play ping pong or not. Likely drinking good wine, not often playing... 😎

Didn't those stairs to the bedroom look dangerous with no railing?

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15 hours ago, aghst said:

I'm imagining HGTV went to Lorraine with a pitch, to do a TV show and they will provide all the guidance as far as giving her an architect and builder with most of the plans all prepared.  Hell they may be paying for the whole thing, while the town was probably motivated to participate in the show, for the publicity.  Probably helped that Lorraine has been in a famous movie and TV show about Italian-Americans which probably had appeal over there.

I think other Italian towns which offered these 1 Euro houses are doing so because they're depopulating and they're desperate to attract new residents and investors.  They can't renovate the homes themselves nor most of the residents.  So Sambuca wouldn't be one of the first destinations which foreigners would visit in Italy.  But good way for Lorraine to do an HGTV show.

Piero's English is too good for a local.  Wouldn't be surprised if he turned out to be an American whom HGTV hired since he's comfortable on camera.  The construction infrastructure for using natural rock and cleaning up the old tiles seem unlikely for a small town.  It's inland, away from more famous tourist destinations along the coast like Palermo, Trapani, Marsala, Sciacca in Western Sicily.

So maybe they get the fancy building materials and methods in Palermo, which is about an hour away.  Because I don't think the elderly residents are doing fancy almost 6-figure renovations on those old homes.  If the town was more on the beaten path of tourists, there would certainly be more value in renovating homes and marketing them to foreign investors.

I don't know how much 1 Euro was a hook for either HGTV or Lorraine.  She could certainly afford a lot more and if she plans to have her family over there, there are other towns which would be more in demand.  The 1 Euro is an advertising thing for the show but maybe HGTV had to up its budget to pay Lorraine and her Hollywood friends to appear on the show here and there.

Unlike HHI, Lorraine didn't make a deal about the location, like wanting to be in center with the cafes and restaurants.  If she wanted a place in Italy, it would seem like she'd want a place that would give her the glamorized Italian lifestyle, with nice restaurants and cafes around, as well as historic, cultural and natural beauty which Italy has in spades.

She would be able to pay for prime location so the 1 Euro thing is unlikely to be a factor for her.

She's building a dream house, combining two properties into one, so at least twice as big as typical homes in the town and of course with fancy HGTV finishes inside.  Lot of Americans and UK expats have done similar renovations throughout Italy.

But will she actually spend much time there once the cameras are finished filming or she will probably sell it and if she decides she wants a place in Italy, she may be more likely to look for a place in Rome, Venice, Tuscany.  She doesn't have George Clooney money so it wouldn't be some lakeside palazzo in Lake Como. 

 

Not everyone wants Rome, Venice, Tuscany or the Lake District.   Sicily is her family's birthplace and she feels connected to it.

Am curious about air conditioning and some kind of heat.    They never discussed anything about it.   Air-conditioning is not the norm in Italy - especially in the villages and small towns.

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12 minutes ago, Doublemint said:

Not everyone wants Rome, Venice, Tuscany or the Lake District.   Sicily is her family's birthplace and she feels connected to it.

Am curious about air conditioning and some kind of heat.    They never discussed anything about it.   Air-conditioning is not the norm in Italy - especially in the villages and small towns.

I'm not saying it isn't true.

But she said she hadn't been to Italy before?  That is surprising if true.  Though her grandparents are from Sicily, I don't think she said they were from this small town so again, this wouldn't be the obvious first choice for her.

Sicily is definitely worth visiting but it's not easy to reach, especially from Los Angeles.  Alitalia used to have a direct flight from LAX to Rome so she would have been able to hop over to Palermo and then an hour drive or ride to Sambuca.  Now it's unlikely she can reach Sicily in one connection, so I still question how often she would visit the home even after it's finished.

I did see air conditioning in one of the finished rooms in episode 1.  It's going to be much fancier than other homes in the neighborhood.  I'd like to see how the other 1 Euro homes in Sambuca are renovated, whether people will spend as much on renovations.

Lorraine may not necessarily want Rome, Venice or the other big destinations in Italy but those are the places with amenities, especially when it comes to nice restaurants and cafes.  Maybe Sambuca has something along those lines but it sounds like a town in need to drawing economic activity so unless there are some kind of attractions, it doesn't seem like higher-end dining would be sustained there.

I searched and found this story about Salemi, another Sicilian town offering homes starting at 1 Euro for auction:

Quote

The selected houses will go up for auction with a €1 starting price, replicating the method adopted by the Sicilian town of Sambuca, where dwellings were sold to the highest bidder and at least one buyer purchased a house sight unseen.

Quote

According to Venuti, potential buyers aren't required to visit Salemi to inspect the homes before making an offer, but they will need to send a detailed restyle plan to demonstrate their commitment to the project.

Those interested can view photographs of available properties, along with maps identifying their whereabouts, and download application forms on the city council's institutional website once the project goes live.

The renovation projects will also be evaluated according to the urban impact.

Those planning to convert one of the properties into a B&B or another type of business establishment with economic activity will receive extra points and tax credits. 

A single buyer can purchase more than one house, but all buyers must pay a deposit guarantee of €3,000, which is to be returned if the restyle is completed within three years.

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/italian-town-salemi-auctioning-one-euro-homes/index.html

So Sambuca probably also required renovation plans which the town probably used as a main criterium to approve the buyer.  In this case, likely HGTV said we will do a show with a celebrity so you give us one of these homes and approve our plan and celebrity buyer.

Is Lorraine truly wanting to connect to her Sicilian roots or is she primarily doing a TV show first?

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The terrace was cute but the fact you have to access it via the bathroom was downright ridiculous.  
I’m a fan of exposed brick but I hated the willy nilly way in which they did it. 

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Yeah that was weird, beautiful glass doors to the outside in that bathroom, which wasn’t all that.

I wonder if they chose the steel legs for that sink just so they could film Lorraine visiting the metal works place.

Guess they want to show her choosing tiles and rolling her sleeves a bit.

I think the brick looks nice but not sure I’d want to live with it.  That surface is porous and I wonder how much dust it sheds, which could get kicked up and breathed in.

It might be of interest to some viewers if they showed information about some of these suppliers.  Not that HGTV viewers in general are looking to renovate old homes in Italy but there might be a few.

I remember years ago, the HGTV site had episode summaries for HHI along with links to the realtors.  But that might have been before they started concocting a lot of the stories of the hunters and even using people who aren’t really realtors.  So as HGTV became more entertainment-oriented.

Of course this show is largely about entertainment, though the 1 Euro house bit is suppose to make viewers think we can follow the same path?  Though I don’t think Lorraine referenced the 1 Euro house much in the second episode.

 

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20 hours ago, aghst said:

Sicily is definitely worth visiting but it's not easy to reach, especially from Los Angeles.  

Lorraine lives in New York, specifically on the eastern end of Long Island.

I've been wondering about contractor Piero as well. His English is very, very good. I think he's probably Sicilian born and came over to the U.S. as a young child. Perhaps he returned later, after his formative years, which is why we hear nary an Italian accent. At least, I am unable to hear one. I'm enjoying the show and the home is turning out beautifully.

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I think they said Lorraine had not been to Sicily before, not that she had never been to Italy.

I had the same thought that that staircase looked very dangerous without the handrail.

I’d like to see more of the renovation process, not just before and after comparisons.

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Tonight's the final episode, and I love how lovely the house looks.    I hope that Lorraine and her family will come there, and enjoy themselves for many years to come.   

Edited by CrazyInAlabama
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I actually got a little teary eyed  at the end of the show. Piero and his crew did an amazing job. Oddly enough, the kitchen was my least favorite part of the house. The appliances were nice enough ( I think it was a Viking range), but I didn't care for the cabinetry that much and that stainless steel sink Piero  dropped in was so cheap looking. I also don't understand why a prep kitchen was necessary. I can understand having a butler's pantry, but this was more than that. I want my refrigerator in my kitchen, and not in another room. Did she just want a picture perfect kitchen? She mentioned something about not having her kitchen cluttered with appliances. All in all kudos to all who worked transforming the dilapidated house into a gorgeous home.

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On 11/7/2020 at 2:04 PM, Doublemint said:

Not everyone wants Rome, Venice, Tuscany or the Lake District.   Sicily is her family's birthplace and she feels connected to it.

Am curious about air conditioning and some kind of heat.    They never discussed anything about it.   Air-conditioning is not the norm in Italy - especially in the villages and small towns.

I saw duct-less wall mounted units near the ceilings in several rooms in the reveal. Compressor(s) is located outside.

 Same system may also provide heat. 

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Just watched the 3rd episode and the house is finished and she has her family there and the townspeople cheering her.  Was this intended to only have THREE episodes?  Or, is her “adventure” in her redone home continuing now that  the home is finished!

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I think the scene of the appliances arriving was a little contrived.  The delivery people probably knew what they were doing but Lorraine and Monica over acted.

It looked like an Italian brand plate on those appliances.

It’s nice but I wonder how much she time she truly plans to spend in Sambuca.

Would be much easier to stay in more glamorous places in Sicily, such as Taormina or Cefalu or Siracusa, with a lot of nice amenities around.

Renovation seems to have taken about six months and in the first episode they showed around a 150k budget, including 45k Euros for the adjoining house.

Town probably hopes the other 1 euro homes have similar budgets, so the local workers can be busy for awhile.

In a few years, it’d be interesting to see how effective these cheap homes with renovation strings attached did for revitalizing these small towns.  They’re not too close to attractions so would people live there or even be able to rent out as vacation homes?

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5 hours ago, aghst said:

It looked like an Italian brand plate on those appliances.

It’s a Bertazonni.  Very nice stove.  I own one.  Brian Boitano installed a bright red one in his place.

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I'm trying to get my head around the economics of Lorraine's investment. Does Lorraine really intend to spend that much time in Sambuca to justify the cost? If she views this as an income property, how many people will want to stay there? Does Lorraine have silent partners, or did she receive incentives to invest beyond the one-euro purchase cost?

She did a cross-promotion on Martha Stewart's current show.

I don't get it.

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If she paid at all, it wouldn't be that much investment for her.  She could probably sell it and even make money.

Unless HGTV was lying about those costs.

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Article about the show.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/lorraine-bracco-bought-an-italian-villa-but-she-cant-escape-the-sopranos

Sambuca received over 100k email inquiries about their 1 Euro home program in a few weeks including from Lorraine.

She then pitched HGTV on the show.

So I was wrong, Lorraine came up with the idea.  Article alludes to Lorraine talking about making it her main home instead of a vacation home but it doesn't sound like she went ahead with that decision.

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