Searching for our homes in Sicily, South Africa, South Australia and Chile

24 Apr

A lot of people have asked how we found the four places we will be staying in four different countries before we ever left on the trip.  The simple answer is the internet.But it took hours of creative searching to find the four places that met our criteria. Search terms make a huge difference.  For example “self-catering” means that it has a kitchen. This simple term eliminated all of the listings that did not have kitchens. Listings were all over the board as far as listing agencies. VRBO is an international agency a lot of people know but it is very pricey and there are scads more.  Once you find a listing you have to scour the photos and the details about what each has (gas hobb (love that one), oven, washing machine, wifi connection, etc.) to meet your requirements.  Photos tell a lot  as long as you remember they are showing truncated views of the accomodation to the renter’s a advantage…the four story apartment building next door is not in the picture.  So that ushers in the next part of the process, establishing an email relationship directly with the renter.  I found this to be essential to getting a good rate. All of our contacts  negotiated giving us markedly discounted prices from what was published on the agency web site. In addition I got to know people and get a feel for each of the cultures through them. One of my favorite people we didn’t rent from was Caesar who ended his last email with, “Hugs from Sicilia.”

16 Responses to “Searching for our homes in Sicily, South Africa, South Australia and Chile”

  1. Neil Freer May 6, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    Neil here.
    Tell us what is the most radically different cultural practices and attitudes you have discovered? How much do the Sacilians get involved in international politics? Do they have the same type TV programming as we do here? State controlled?

    • Neil Freer May 6, 2012 at 3:22 am #

      Whew. Did that too fast, “what are the most radically different…..” ehehehe
      Sicilians not Scilians…………get with it Neil

      • jill54321 May 6, 2012 at 4:23 am #

        Hi Neil: I will try to answer your questions. All of our comments are ancedotal and based on our very limited experiences and observations. Also my punctuation is wanting due to using an Italian keyboard.

        That said tbiggest social difference I have observed is the prominence of older and middle aged Italian men sitting and standing in groups in the street…usually in front of a local bar or cafe. They are a tribute to the art of public conversation. By the same token the older and middle aged women are not to be seen on the main street. You will sometimes see them in the doorways of their home chatting with a neighbor but are otherwise invisible. We suspect they are food shopping early in the morning then home cooking the mid day meal.

        Regarding politics, this is election time here. Vans with loudspeakers with large photos of the candidate drive through the streets blaring their political message. We saw a candidate speak in the public square. He spoke at length and the dedicated audience sitting in the sun on hard chairs stayed and listened attentively. But as Katia observed in my previous Sicilian friends post, the message is always for change and yet things stay the same.

        We have a television. Not sure if it is state run but I think not as there are too many channels?? There is a plethora of talking heads. Commentators who report on the political news but since we do not speak Italian, all I can tell you is it is a significant portion of the broadcast. Human interest stories are not part of the news. Otherwise there are soap operas, retreads of little known American TV series, game shows, one travel channel and one American MTV channel.

        We just celebrated, May 2, Liberation Day, a national holiday. It honors Italys freedom from facism. WWII and the liberation is well remembered in Sicily.

      • jill54321 May 6, 2012 at 4:27 am #

        Hi Neil: Please see my reply on the Medflies blog. J

  2. Ursula Freer April 29, 2012 at 4:19 am #

    Hello again, Jill you may be interested to know that the Communal Garden is now called the Circle Garden! You were the only one at first who agreed that changing the name was a good idea. Hope you guys are well and enjoying Italy! Do you still get the Community Garden news while away?

    • jill54321 April 29, 2012 at 4:35 am #

      I did see that Ursula. I think it is a great name. Really captures the whole feeling of working with others. I am getting the news and missing working with all of you in the garden. J

  3. Neil Freer April 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Neil here
    Watched the “pasta” video dribblin’ and droolin’, thought I saw my favorite brand, De Cecco in there maybe on that top shelf? Think I’ll just make that for dinner today, yeah. Tomato and red wine sauce, Neopolitan style. Do the Sicilians still simmer their sauce to a deep thick paste?

    • jill54321 April 27, 2012 at 3:17 am #

      Hi Neil: Yes the sauce is a very tomatoey thick paste. The tomatoes here are the best, most flavorful I have ever eaten. In fact, hI am able to differentiate flavors based on the different growing regions. For example I love small vine tomatoes from Pachino, a growing region southeast of here. The vendors have the region on the hand lettered signs on ripped cardboard in the market in Ortigia. The romanos are unbelievable. I will never again eat those tomatoes that were proven to be harder than a car bumper at the cold weather research lab in Lyme, New Hampshire. J

      • Neil Freer April 29, 2012 at 12:51 am #

        My first wife was second generation Neopolitan and I learned to prefer the lighter tomato seafood sauces and pesto. But, yes, those plum Romano are tops. Perhaps when the nitrogen from all the good stuff put into the community garden mellows down we’ll get some superior tomato produce, more fruit and less green. City folk still able to grow basil and other herbs in pots right outside their doors?

      • jill54321 April 29, 2012 at 4:06 am #

        Hi Neil: In the country everyone seems to have a garden and in the city they are in pots on the patio. Our landlady even planted some rosemary and basil for us in a pot outside our door. The weather is in the 70s and sunny and, of course, humid so they are growing like crazy. J

  4. Leslie&Kids April 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    PLEASE post a picture of you both on the Vespa and be sure to wear your scarf!

  5. Maryl April 26, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Figured out how to use the RSS feed and now we can see immediately when we get an entry from you. Love the entries so far and we eagerly look forward to getting more. As someone mentioned, would love to see more photos (inside your villa, pix of the village, etc). Are you being able to use your Italian or do you find a lot of people speak English? I’m sure you’ll cover it all in subsequent posts. I know there were millions of details you had to go through to get where you are now but you make it seem so effortless. Just know that we await your posts and are enjoying the journey vicariously through you both.

    • jill54321 April 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

      Searching for our places to live was actually fun. We really liked imagining ourselves in each place. Budget ruled out a number of fabulous daydreams. Though we are not quite Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, I do have a new Italian scarf and we ARE going to rent a Vespa.

  6. Ursula Freer April 25, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    Your advice makes so much sense. I hope you consider writing a book on the subject. It would be so helpful to other travelers who just don’t have that kind of creativity in planning.

    • jill54321 April 25, 2012 at 4:34 am #

      Dear Ursula: Thanks for your comments. I wish I had started the blog sooner in the planning process.To do what we did…moving out of the house has a million details. We could offer people planning ideas that might save them time and money. It’s great to hear from everyone. Sounds like the garden is off to a great start. Ciao, Jill

  7. Tom Engel April 25, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    Great to hear from you. The weather has continued to stay warm. Jan and I think that the last frost has passed. We will look forward to hearing about the great adventures and living vicariously through you. Tom and Jan

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