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foto of ElsBeing Dutch, going on holiday when I was young mostly came down to this. You would head for a sunny Southern European destination whilst dragging this big “thing” behind your car. Travelling like a snail, your own little house on your back, having to be extra careful when coming down a mountain…

I never enjoyed a summer holiday more than the one at a campsite near Malcesine. Where a hammock, Italian ice cream, plenty of sunshine, a pebble beach, an air mattress and my new best friend Cardia van Bemmelen provided all the fun a 7 year old could wish for, back then the main tourists in those days seemed to be mostly Dutch.

Early seventies Lake Garda was as beautiful as it is today, with charming villages, lemon trees and exotic flowers everywhere and crystal clear blue waters – perfect for swimming. But it had yet to be discovered by mass tourism. I would say that Lake Iseo today reminds me of those times.

When my husband and I decided in 2010 to look for an apartment in Italy we focused on Lake Garda. After visiting it only once, he was smitten too and could see us spending many a holiday there. It did not take me long to find Madeleine Morgan’s Dreamhomes and then our journey really took off. And it was Madeleine who introduced us first to Lake Iseo.

Like many people, I had visited all the larger north Italian lakes (Maggiore, Como, Garda) but not Lake Iseo. Each lake has a personality of its own. Compared to Garda, Iseo is much smaller, more secluded and less polished. It seduces you quite differently. If Lake Garda is the extravert spontaneous girl, Iseo is her more serene, mysterious sister. It was its “inspiring authenticity and grand beauty” that made world famous artist Jean Claude Christo select Lake Iseo as the location for “The Floating Piers”, earlier this year.

Lake Garda has a sub-mediterranean climate. This basically means lovely mild weather but a few more rain showers in summer than say, the Amalfi Coast.Lake Iseo’s climate is alpine, with olives and horse chestnuts rather than lemon groves and palm trees. Summers are very sunny but generally a few degrees cooler than Lake Garda.

Iseo also borders the Franciacorta wine region, famous for sparkling wine made in the Champagne method. Franciacorta was recently hailed by international wine connoisseurs as Italy’s best new sparkling wine, and chosen as the “Official Sparkling Wine” of the Milan Expo 2015. Needless to say that interest in the region is starting to soar.

Back to 2010. Madeleine showed us many appealing apartments, first at Lake Garda and then at Lake Iseo. And I cannot deny we were more than a little pleased to find that at Iseo, we could get substantially more for our money. Iseo has not got the star power of sister Lake Garda – yet. But the quiet beauty, authentic atmosphere and wonderful restaurants with both delicious and very affordable food, certainly made us fall in love with her.

Article by Elisa di Solto  – 10th September 2016

me and mollyHave you ever looked at the dark sky outside, the heavens opening up with rain and the pale reflection looking back at you in the mirror on any given day and thought, yes that’s it I want bright sunshine, sandy beaches, latino music and a mojito …………..hellooo I am going to move abroad!!!

The first step is taking a look at where you would like to go, the type of life you have always dreamed of and what type of property you would like to purchase!!!

Most people decide for a number of different reasons to purchase a property abroad:-

  1. Relocation
  2. Investment with a view to retirement
  3. Retirement Property
  4. Holiday home for the family

And here we are, but where to go:-

Well the top destinations to move abroad are:-

United States of America





………. but wherever you decide to go it would be good to remember the following points:-

  1. Take your time to decide – it’s an important move so ask yourself why you are doing it and what you wish to achieve . Do you choose a location where you can still have all your golden favourites …… a good cuppa tea, a great pint, a cheese burger or kebab and curry or are you looking for that exotic location where you wanna change your life style completely and freefall into a new dimension!! Well the number one rule is to explore your location, spend time there on holiday in all seasons to see what’s it like, the locals, the food, the cost of living, accessibility to other areas, airports and travel, beaches, lakes, mountains and cities close by.
  1. Property viewings – whatever country you choose always remember to also choose a trusted property agent, someone who specializes in the area that you are interested in and speaks your language so there are no barriers and above all, someone who is fully qualified as a realtor and a good listener. Explain in detail what you are looking for and the locations that you are interested in as well as your budget ( including or excluding purchase taxes ) and your reasons for purchasing so that the agent is fully informed, this is to avoid them taking you on a wild goose chase and wasting valuable time.
  1. Don’t purchase more than you can afford – it may be that you might fall upon a great property that is not in your actual budget, please please don’t be tempted until you know that you can comfortably and I use that word with a certain emphasis, purchase without creating any stress on your financial situation. Always look the property over both inside and outside and before signing any paperwork discuss at length, if necessary with an independent lawyer. Request the legal documentation for the property and if it is new or off plan make sure if there are any legal requirements that need to be covered by the developer.
  1. Mortgages – if you need a mortgage to purchase then prior to viewing any property please make sure that you have your lending in place and that you can actually borrow the funds. If you are looking for a mortgage in the country of your choice then you should probably use a financial advisor who will have access to more than one lending institution and can help you to understand if you qualify for a mortgage in the first place.
  1. Don’t be too hasty – think carefully before making any deposits on any property, I normally ask my clients to give some serious thought for at least 48 hours and then come back to me.
  1. Don’t forget about tax laws in that country – do make sure that you fully inform yourself of the tax laws both inheritance tax, property tax and capital gains tax should you decide to sell. You will need to speak to either a good tax lawyer or equivalent to understand the implications of your choice. Always find out what the laws are with regards to Wills and Testaments to cover your family.
  1. Don’t forget about fluctuating exchange rates – this is a very important point as it could mean a big price difference should your currency deflate. In these cases I normally advise a good currency broker who can assist you to obtain the best exchange rates in order that you are not caught out.
  1. Options – if you are thinking of relocating it would probably be a good idea to keep your options open, if you have a property in your country maybe keep it and rent it out for a period until you are sure about making the move permanently. That way you have a fallback should it not work out.
  1. Language barriers – remember that if you are seriously considering a move abroad you either have to choose a country where they speak your language or get used to the idea that you are going to have to learn the language at some time. On this note it would probably be a good idea to frequent night classes, take an internet course or buy some language dvd’s to listen in the car on the way to work to get a head start!
  1. Golden rule – Don’t rush into anything, this is a life choice and it has to bring you joy and happiness so think things through……..

Madeleine Morgan – 1st October 2016

foto of Els

Art may not be the first thing my ‘Dear child,’ wrote aristocratic writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu to her daughter in 1747, ‘I am now in a place the most beautifully romantic I ever saw in my life.’

She was talking about Lake Iseo (the Lady had bought a half-ruined palazzo in Lovere, acquired a dairy and then set about introducing locals to what she called ‘the science of butter-making’).

We all know that Italy is famous for it’s art and artists have been fascinated by the Lake. This year it was Christo who chose it as the ultimate location for his Floating Piers. But already 500 years ago no other than Leonardo da Vinci visited the lake and was captivated by mount Trentapassi (1248 m high, located between Marone and Pisogne). It is believed that the mountain features on both the Mona Lisa and the Annunciation, even on several other of his paintings.

Art may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about spending time at the lakes. But with Bergamo, Milan, Brescia and Verona so nearby, there are countless opportunities for visiting historical locations, museums and churches etc;

So what is it that I enjoy most when I am at the Lake? It already starts with the drive from Orio al Serio airport. The road to our apartment takes us via Lago Endine, a very quiet and peaceful lake next to Lake Iseo. Then it leads uphill where we suddenly come face to face with the magnificent Trentapassi, “our mountain”.  We then turn right to our local supermarket where the people are always friendly, even though our Italian is limited.

Our apartment feels like home to the whole family. The views are magical and on the first evening we head straight to our favorite pizzeria. Where the tasty big pizza’s cost around 6 euro and the freshly made gnocchi with either cheese or shrimps is just delicious. The wine list spoils you for choice and if we don’t drink the whole bottle, we take it with us and enjoy the rest on our terrace. Before returning home we stop for a huge ice cream at the local gelateria.

There really are many great restaurants around the lake and I often still cannot believe how reasonable the prices are.

Another must on our agenda is clothes shopping at Franciacorta outlet, between Iseo and Brescia. It is here that I get my fix for affordable Italian fashion. And if I cannot find what I am looking for there, I will try the boutiques in Iseo, Sarnico or Lovere!

But what makes the lakes truly attractive is their nature, and how to enjoy that. Hikers will find many paths to wander. Cyclists have long discovered the challenging beauty of the winding roads around the lakes. In Franciacorta you will find besides high quality wine, a wonderful 18-holes golf course. And last but not least, get a different perspective from the water and rent a (sail)boat. Even skiing in winter is an option: not many people know that within 45 minutes you can be on skis in the resorts of Montecampione or Castione della Presolana.

Life in Italy, endless things to enjoy. But right now, I wish I was there just for a cappuccino and a brioche!

Elisa Di Solto – 5th October 2016

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