The other night I saw a show on HGTV about an American couple looking for a place on the Amalfi coast of Italy. They were accompanied by a friendly local realtor, and the first place he showed them was a tiny place along a busy road that had been painted up a bit for $1.5 million. Yes, dollars. They kept repeating that they wanted their place to be “real Italian”, and they pointed out one fixture that would “have to go” based on its blatantly obvious un-Italian-ness. The Realtor replied that the fixture was indeed from Venice. The town in Italy, not the beach in California.
They asked to see something a bit less expensive, and were shown a 500-year old place that had no electricity or plumbing, and would have made Leatherface himself turn up his nose. I thought the realtor was playing a joke on them, but indeed this was a real property for sale, though he did (appropriately it seemed) call it a “ruin”. Yeah, it was “ruined” all right. It looked like the kind of place you put a plaque up to describe the horrid living conditions that people endured during the time of the black plague, not the kind of place you pick out curtains for. There was a lot of exposed stone, and I’m not talking about some kind of fancy decorator stone. These were pretty much piles of rocks. There was one bathroom outside of the place, although what is a bathroom really if there’s no plumbing? Not to get all snobby, but I think “bathroom” implies some kind of plumbing. Otherwise, I consider it just a really foul-smelling closet.
The house also must be reached by 350 stone steps. Imagine forgetting to lock the door or needing to go back inside for your wallet. Think you might have left the oven on? In a mere 700 steps, you can be sure. They were told that if they picked that house, it would probably take 3 years to make it livable, and any construction materials would need to come up the steps via mule. No, that’s not some fancy name for power equipment like “bobcat”. An actual living and breathing mule. And I’ve heard realtors use the phrase “this house has good bones”, but as the cameras panned around that dump of a “house”, I think I saw a few actual bones. Most likely human. It looked like the house had been occupied by squatters until they finally expired due to lack of food, clean water, or televised football.
The couple ended up picking the pile of stones. I guess it’s always good to save some money to put toward your own renovations and personal touches. So how much was the dump? 750. Seven hundred and fifty dollarinis. Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. And these were American dollars, not some Latin American currency where it’s like a million of them for a can of corn. I believe the same footage from this HGTV show was used on Italian TV for a show called “Watch Dumb Americans Buy Crap that No Italians Want”.