House Hunting Diaries

. 27 min read . Written by Kuba Vitek
House Hunting Diaries

25 September, Czech Republic

"Another one bites the dust." A day before our big hunt begins, we sit in my parents' garden deep in Czech countryside. Some obscure classical music starts playing through the local radio announcement system, aka bunch of speakers mounted high up on electric poles all throughout the village. It's extra creepy, as they are not completely synchronized, so the haunting violin melody resembles a soundtrack to a dream sequence in a movie by David Lynch. My French husband (ha! That fool really did marry me!) continues to be baffled by this phenomenon. You see, they only play classical music like this when somebody in the village passes away. Sort of a bizarre guessing game - you'll only learn who kicked the bucket at the end of a tediously long Sonata No.1 in G Minor.

"Maybe it's the radio lady," I offer, because after decades of hearing a female voice coming through the radio system to alert villagers about various happenings (usually pertaining to electricity and water being cut due to maintenance or road works, or a new vendor selling fresh carps at his stand next to a church on Friday afternoon only!), controversially this time around, and for the first time ever, the announcer is male. And yes, this really is the most tantalizing mystery Rájec-Jestřebí has seen in decades.

We are all packed, car bursting in seams, ready to embark on an equally exciting and mortifying journey to Italy tomorrow. We have been uprooted for about four years now - ever since we left London in 2019 and traded stability and comfort for adventure on the road, with hopes to discover a place that would feel more like a forever-home than post-Brexit England. And what do you know, even with its dangerous leaning towards Far Right, obsession with carbs & trepidation concerning everyone who's not exactly white or straight, it seems to be Italy!

We worked hard this last summer and for the first time ever managed to save up funds allowing for more than just a few weeks of 'doing life' before starting another 5-months long seasonal winter job in Alps - and we fully intend to put down this little bundle of funds towards a rental in Tuscany.

"Isn't it insane to think we're now homeless until we sign under a tenancy contract in Italy?" David looks at me, quizzically: "We've been homeless for four years now. I wouldn't count the work accommodations as home."

He's right. Still, I can't imagine a few weeks from now we might have a place to call our own. A place where your socks and your underwear have their assigned drawer. By now, we mastered the art of living out of suitcase, so there's no challenge in it anymore. Onwards & upwards!

We humans are funny this way: seeking growth and expansion through blowing up our secure and predictable comfort zones, only for our ego to pull us eventually back to seeking stability, predictability and comfort. I guess the 'adventure' always sits on the opposite of what constitutes your day-to-day circumstances.

So off we go to write last few paragraphs in our nomading chapter, turn a page and start a new adventure storyline of settling down, nesting and playing house. For now, we're only equipped with a deep knowing that change is imminent and with our vision for the future home. It includes a proximity to nature (potentially negotiable), a bathtub (NON NEGOTIABLE - years on the road will shape your priorities in unusual ways), at least a tiny patch of garden, a guest room (one of the aspects of our life in London we miss the most is being able to host our friends and family), I secretly wish for a fireplace or a little wood burner stove, and maybe like a 20 km radius of Florence, where part of our chosen family resides.

1st October, Château de Saint Senoch

Just your usual little stop over in France for a wedding of David's friend Yana, that he just happens to be officiating. It felt good to arrive a day earlier and together with her friends & family prepare the outdoor space at a gorgeous chateau for tomorrow's festivities, as opposed to rock up on the day only to consume food, get pissed and leave. This type of work is so rewarding - showing up for friends is so rewarding! Boy, did we miss being able to do that. It doesn't pay like catering to the whims of super rich assholes in their mountain chalets and summer villas, but you earn your keep in memories and a feeling of participation. Unlike money, this currency isn't transient.

We both had our worries. It would be my first sober wedding, also as probably the only foreigner in a swarm of French, who are not known for their prowess in speaking other languages. A pressure, of course, incomparable to David learning only on the day, that he'd be officiating the wedding in front of 160 guests! Both our fears were proved totally misguided. From his dance entrance to 'I've Seen That Face Before' by Grace Jones, through equally touching and hilarious speech, David naturally became the celebrity of the night. And what do you know, I met a lady who lived in Prague and now teaches Slavic Studies on the University of Aix-En-Provence (where we've been just two months prior on our little pre-honeymoon) - quite possibly the only French who speaks fluent Czech!

7th October, Geneva

Switzerland, in the shadow of Saléve mountain. Veyrier is a quaint little town sitting exactly on the border with France, to the point your phone provider will nonstop bombard you with 'Welcome to France' & 'Welcome to Switzerland' messages. Quite disturbing to think some 11 kilometers above, the Big Brother satellites trace your every move so precisely, they know one end of the street you're currently crossing sits in France and the other in Switzerland.

A weekend with David's best friend Cedric, a gentle French giant that definitely carries some Neanderthal DNA, but is also a proudly superficial Libra, as you'll soon realize watching him endlessly pressing 'refresh' on Grinder (80% of his day every day). I'm pretty sure it might have been him, who originally came up with that infamous 'no fats, no femmes & no Asians' sentiment. A rare combination of someone completely insufferable & hopelessly lovable. He's on the same journey as us, just a few chapters behind. Not so long ago, he quite spectacularly uprooted his life-long career in banking in France & now - much to his family's despair - hoping to get an airport canteen cashier job in Geneva.

For now, Cedric rents a room in a shabby rustic chalet belonging to a retired psycho therapist and her opera singer husband. I started a big spell for manifesting our dream home in Italy on the last Full Moon in Aries and I'm feeding this magical work all the way up to the upcoming New Moon in Libra. As the boys were catching up over whisky & coke guzzled from enormous old-school chipped porcelain tea cups, I sat alone outside in front of my travel altar in the darkness of Ced's garden, spellworking away. Not as alone as I thought, it turned out. Clearly, Cedric's landlady watched me from her bedroom and, worried about my mental health capacities, offered me a psycho analysis free of charge the next morning. Must remember to send her a postcard of our new home in Italy, that I fully intend to pull from the field of potentiality into material reality within a few weeks.

Sunday stroll around Lac Léman with its modest 140m geyser. Geneva clearly didn't receive the memo about the global energy crisis, but the rainbow kind of makes up for it.

9th October, Pisa

Siamo arrivati!!! Crossed from France to Italy through a tunnel under Mont Blanc (it's a 10 mins drive and will cost you €50). We hoped to celebrate an official start of our 'life in Italy' chapter with Cori & Morgan, our beloved chosen fam in Florence, who actually inspired this whole venture, but they don't seem available. We just received a message from them: 'Good to know you safely arrived and good luck with the search.' Um, ok. Well, we're nothing if not fiercely flexible - a trait fortified in years of life on the road as effectively homeless - even & especially through our collective Covid sub-chapter.

So we drive past Florence and celebrate our arrival with dinner in Pisa instead. In honor of our new integration efforts and with a 'go big or go home' sentiment, we went for Saffron spaghetti with prawns, Burrata ravioli with bean pesto and we're splitting a third dish that's 50% off, and yes, it's also pasta - Gnocco Asparagi. On the way to our Airbnb in a nearby Chiesina Uzzanese, we switch between different Italian radio stations. They all share terrible music choices and lots of impassionate loud banter - and I keep twitching uncomfortably every time I hear 'cosi' and 'certo' (which they use ALL THE TIME). In my language, one stands for 'tits', the other one for the 'Devil' himself. I'll clearly need more time for a linguistic adjustment.

12th October, Pistoia

"I'm telling you, there's some significance to 9 and 11 for us. I can't put my finger on it yet, but those numbers will play some sort of a role in this whole house hunting chapter." We passed a sign post with these exact numbers just now, as we ascend on a mortifying serpentine road up another mountain to see a potential rental. Yes, the view is stunning but I'm once again super convinced we'll perish here, helping the car stay on the road by clenching my butt cheeks to the point of almost fainting. David knows me too well and tries to distract me. I ponder his theory:

"Well, I actually got my name change officially approved on the 11th of September - that's 9/11 - another unfortunate anniversary falling on that day... Unfortunate for you," I joke.

"I love that you have my surname, we created a completely new unit, a pure combination of both our worlds. Probably the first Vítek-Girard name in the history of humankind."

I keep wondering about the meaning of 9 and 11 in relation to this Italian storyline of ours. It better not be that we find our dream home on the 9th of November. I don't think our pitiful finances can stretch that far. There will be lots to pay upfront and the interim accommodation & petrol expenses are dangerously mounting up.

Every day follows the same pattern. We get up, move all the stuff back to our car, already heavy with the absolute entirety of our material earthly possessions, make a list of different immobiliare agencies to visit in person in order register our interest (all of the agents have two things in common - no English and a deep suspicion about our motives to settle in Italy), endlessly scroll on several different web portals, comb through hundreds of properties to rent, contact agents or landlords by phone (most of them hang up) or by message (most of them never reply) to arrange viewings, drive from place to place the whole day to eventually land in some Airbnb in the evening, scroll, call, message some more and then collapse. Repeat the next morning.

This afternoon, a lady in a real estate agency in Pistoia offered just one single rental matching our requirements and budget. She gave us driving directions (it's a 45 minutes drive up a mountain somewhere between Pistoia and Luca) and said to call her when we arrive there. Okay? It takes us a couple of hours to locate the place. A bizarre group of mostly abandoned houses glued to a twisty mountain road. A few local ladies come out to check on these two strangers wandering up and down an empty street. One of them speaks English, hallelujah!

"Why did she send you here?" she's shocked & amused in equal measure: "That flat has been empty for years and I'm pretty sure the ceiling caved in." We call the real estate agent lady back and because she speaks little English, our new friend takes the phone - the typically loud & passionate Italian repartee ensues.

"Well, she says if you wait here, she can come in two hours with keys and show you the flat. However, I don't think there's anything to show," she gives David his phone back, wishes us good luck and disappears back inside her house.

Shame you can never tell your day is wasted until it is over and wasted.

14th October, Montemagno

Today, hope takes shape of a 1750 farm house, in a charming little hamlet (our new favorite word) 10km from Pisa. It's an open house, auction-style listing - we are left to explore the house along all the other interested couples, a fertile soil for an imposter syndrome to germinate. Of course, all the others are Italian and look like functioning adults with steady incomes, employment histories and rental references.

If hope is a waking dream, as Aristotle suggested, today I dream about a lush herbal garden with vertical planters in that strange open air attic, reading in front of this monumental fireplace, cycling on one of those bikes with a basket in front Parisian-girl-style 10km to Pisa to No, let's not dream of labor, let's say I'm cycling to Pisa to meet a friend from a ghost hunting group to discuss our next adventure. I always caution David from projecting himself too much and too fast into any potentiality, but today we both allow ourselves to dream big. This feels so right, it can't be wrong. Right?

The interested parties are encouraged to put together a written proposal for the landlord and within a week, agency representative will contact the selected couple to continue negotiations and arrangements in person. Writing is something I can totally do and with help of our friend Flo, who works in real estate, we have a bulletproof case for why we should be the ones renting this farm house down on paper.

We read through our proposal only about twenty times before pressing 'send'.

This is it! I feel like we totally got this!

17th October, Castel dell'Alpi

We did not get it. Not only that, we have not heard anything back and nobody picks up our phone calls. This will be a repeating theme.

A massive projection followed by a gargantuan effort to bend reality to meet that projection, only to run into rejection. Rinse and repeat.

We have slept in so many different types of home stays, flats, cottages, basements, little hotels, I'm totally losing track. They all share just one unfortunate thing - those fucking stinky shield bugs. Some throw cockroaches on top. Sometimes we fall asleep to the soundtrack of terrible fun fair music, sometimes a sound of howling wind and owls. Or like now, muffled shrieks of Italian telenovelas from upstairs. We're in a bizarro Bed & Breakfast called NINA in mountains between Florence and Bologna. It's run by a very chatty Romanian woman, shockingly called Nina, who never shuts up even though she speaks no word of English. She talks at her phone with Google Translator for ten minutes at times, then press play and a robotic voice repeats the full jumble of a message in English, as we patiently nod, smile or chuckle politely, nod some more and pretend it all made a perfect sense.

By day two, we start hiding from her. There's a lake not far from here, close to Borgo San Lorenzo (we applied for a monthly rental here, to at least have a stable base to come back to from our criss-crossing Italy in search for long term rental. Turns out it will be only available in Decemer). On our mission to avoid Nina, we spend lots of time here, taking turns reading from our book out loud under generous October sun, desperately trying to shift attention from trillions of rental adverts - all blending together by now, from creeping doubts and crippling money worries.

We had a viewing yesterday. Split level apartment with not just one, but three bathrooms, two bathtubs. Fully furnished in vibrant yellow and blue colors (I still have migraine), ready to move in. At least for David. I prayed to my guides & ancestors to give me a clear sign if this was meant to be THE ONE. I guess, the fact we had a massive argument 3 minutes after the viewing, is a clear enough sign.

David - tired, bothered and worried in regards to our diminishing finances seemed to be all in. I felt the exact opposite. It seemed like moving inside a picture from a catalog. All of the furniture & decoration choices were already made for you by someone else - everyone's dream. But not mine. There's no home making in a home that's already been made by someone else. No garden, no fireplace, no vicinity to nature, no Tuscany.

I knew this would happen. With the weight of several refusals on our shoulders, we'd start eventually chipping away from our original vision. Some call this a compromise, I call it a defeat.

In the end, I remembered that as an adult in a relationship with another adult (heck, marriage actually, must keep reminding myself we up-leveled), you must keep making steps towards each other, so I offered we'd wait until we have more information (we've got another few viewings already lined up for tomorrow and the day after) before committing to this option. If by Friday, this yellow&blue nightmare still seems like the best choice, we'd send in our offer.

Of course, on Friday, when I finally surrendered, the flat has already gone to someone else. Back to fucking square one.

19th October, Siena

There's something very alchemical, steampunk-core about Siena after rain. Like Prague's Old Town, I can totally imagine living here in my little life as an urban fantasy delusion, prancing through winding cobbled streets, trying to decipher masonic symbology on hundreds years old building facades and arches, professor Langdon style. Far away and beyond our '20 km radius of Florence' idea, I'm shocked to discover we're actually technically still in Tuscany. This region is huge!

20th October, heading to Rome

Third attempt on a voice message for mum and dad. I try to sound hopeful, perky, jovial, the opposite of how I feel about this whole 'dream home in Italy' project right now. I'm almost forty years old, but still .. or rather - now more than ever - trying to impress my parents at every turn my crazy life takes.

They have not been impressed in quite some time, I'm afraid. Mum and dad are a part of a deeply realistic (for anyone outside Czech this means PESSIMISTIC), abrasive, post-socialism, post-communism 'I believe it when I see it' generation. In our experience though, you first must believe it if you want to see it.

Running purely on beliefs and what I call a 'petrol stations diet' consisting of energy drinks, instant Ramen noodles and Kinder Buenos (not sure how we're still alive and surprisingly fit - is all I thought I knew about nutrition also a swizz?! Question everything, my friends!), we leave Tuscany behind today and travel south. There are some potentially interesting places in Lazio and Perugia regions, but it's Friday afternoon, which means the entirety of Italian infrastructure collapses into a deep coma until Monday morning, so we first allow ourselves a weekend in Rome as tourists. Andiamo!

22nd October, Vatican

Piazza San Pietro. Electrified by the idea that we're now literally walking on top of the infamous secret underground Vatican archives, 80 kilometers of shelves allegedly containing the world's largest collection of porn, proof of the existence of extraterrestrial life & a time travelling device called Chronovisor, allowing for glimpses of past events, such as Christ's crucifixion.

People are standing in line for up to six hours to get into Vatican. I can't wrap my mind around it. "Well, it's an important place for people of faith," David suggests.

"They realize God does not live there, right? It's just a tax haven senior care facility for a bunch of overpaid octogenerian crossdressers."

He gasps: "Careful, we're already holding hands, I'm pretty sure that statement counts as a double sin," David whispers as we pass a youth guard holding a machine gun. I'm pretty sure it's more sinful to preach to the 1.3 billion Catholics around the world that people like us don't deserve to have rights, but I will not argue with Kalashnikovs.

25th October, Terni

Of course we'd get a flat tire in the middle of the woods, at night, on a fucking mountain top somewhere high above Spoleto.

Coming home from a modest food shopping (you guessed it - Ramen noodles and Kinder Buenos), GPS decided to lead us to what would be our ultimate demise. We're just 2 km from our accommodation for tonight, when the road disappears and the tree branches threaten to bash our car windows in and we know we are in deep shit. Trying to reverse over jagged boulders - probably a former river bed that GPS somehow took for a road, we busted a tire. David cut the engine. With no car lights, darkness outside seemed absolutely impenetrable. Like when they switch off lights on the guided tours in caves. Total and absolute darkness. A perfect reflection of our emotional and psychological state.

We must leave the car here and hike to the Airbnb through the night woods. Carrying plastic bags filled with food, the rookie mistake number one, I'm perfectly sure we'd end up being attacked by bears that are currently on a mission to fatten up before their winter hibernation, so I keep checking for the trees around, trying to assess how difficult it would be to climb up, and if they'd hold our weight at all.

"You know bears can climb," David informs me and I'm very close to ending his existence. We walk blind and in what we're only half sure is the right direction. We have to call our insurance company in Czech, but they won't be able to do anything now. Tomorrow morning, David will come here again to wait for a tow truck that will take our car down the mountain to the nearest garage. It would take a full day for our front tires to get replaced (apparently, for security reasons and I guess to make sure they'd get paid handsomely, the mechanics must replace both front tires, even though we punctured just one).

When we finally arrive to a relative safety of our Airbnb, I allow myself a tiny little cry and then get back to work. Time to once again amend our criteria to allow for more options. Maybe we don't need a tub, we'll save money by showering. I do only super short showers anyway - I'm convinced that every second of water running over my eyes, blinding me momentarily, allows for a potential serial killer to make another step closer to a shower curtain. And that way we'll appreciate the occasional bath at some Airbnb or at my parents house even more?

I scroll, read, translate and reply to about twenty listings. My new hobby is looking for other peoples reflections in glass cabinets, or their badly cropped feet from the indoor property photos. Outside, a stray cat that looks like werewolf tries really hard and loud to get adopted - time is ticking, winter is coming. Same for us. We're almost in November and still no idea where and how we spend this coming winter.

Turns out I didn't need to worry about bears. We get scolded by the guy who runs the Airbnb for our midnight hike anyway - there are actually wolves in these woods. On the other hand, wolves don't climb trees. So there, David.

27th October, I think we're back in Tuscan region?

Trust Leo to make other people's life issues about themselves. Cori finally reached out, explaining briefly they are dealing with their own shit and for now just need to stay in their cocoon. Now I feel like an asshole. Just yesterday, frustrated with this whole cycle of building up hopes only to watch them burn to crisp and starting again the next day, I complained: "Like, I just can't imagine Cori & Morgan would be hunting for their dream home in MY home country, in the region where we happen to live, and we just wouldn't even see them? Good luck with the search and see you when I see you? This whole thing would feel much more doable if we could just see our people and not feel so alone in this."

David, equally exhausted and over-stretched from daily 5-8 hrs driving duties, didn't even look at me curled up on the passenger seat: "You know how that sounds to me? Like something that has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you."

Trust me, go marry someone who regards you as an enigma and not someone who sees right through you.

28th October, Pits of Hell

Full Moon tonight. Maybe that's also part of a reason my illusion of sanity finally caved in on itself. Unexpectedly, this morning we got to touch our vision for the 'dream home' in Italy and then it got snatched away just as quick.

At 11 in the morning, a real estate agent Valentina drove all the way from Rome deep into Umbrian countryside to show us an unusual property. 11th century medieval tower renovated into a little two bedroom split level apartment, tucked away in between endless rolling hills, a patchwork of olive groves (the famous Monini olive oil is produced here).

A new feeling alert! As soon as we crossed the threshold, something shifted. Last night I prayed to my guides for a sign. If this is it, please just make it so that there's no doubts. The not knowing is so fucking draining. Make it an owl, I asked. As soon as we entered into a beautiful little rustic chic kitchen, my eyes fixed on a little owl statue above the hearth and I exhaled, relieved.

The house is perfect. Walking around I smiled like an idiot. It's not huge, but the garden is big, untamed and apparently ready to be transformed in any way we can dream of. Living room can be made into a guest room that opens into a garden, with it's own bathroom situated in an old walk-in oven, a bathtub the size of a small pool. There's a shower in the bedroom upstairs and THREE little fireplaces! A first property within our budget that doesn't look like it hasn't been touched since the seventies, has a great character and a major plus - definitely haunted!


Turns out, because our work contracts are seasonal and not continuous, they can't be used as a security guarantee. Valentina offered we could put down a 6 months rent as a security instead. However, a month of pinball bouncing in between different Airbnbs and criss-crossing the whole country ate away from our modest savings bundle to the point we might not even make it back...funny, was about to write 'home' only to remember, until we sign for something here in Italy, we don't have a home.

So close!

I realize, it's time to let go of this particular dream and I finally crack. I haven't said a word for the full 6 hours drive back north. Not only that, for the first time in my life, I swear I had no thoughts going through my head the entire time either. David was, of course, super worried. Tried to get me to talk, tried to get me to come out of the car. But with the whole nesting project completely falling apart, this old Ford Mondeo is the only thing I feel is truly OURS right now, so I don't budge.

Finally, he finds us a hotel room for the night. With a bathtub. Check-in is a blur. I find it hard to make eye contact, or even to sit straight, almost like I'm carrying some sort of an unshiftable weight. The astronomical heaviness of a black hole that's Leo's defeat.

Rooting our expectations solely in experience with sea side resorts and other tourist spots, where language is a necessary part of running business, we grossly misjudged the ability of Italians to wield English in any constructive manner. Out of about forty real estate agents and private landlords we've been in communication with during these past three weeks, only 3 or 4 could (or would) string a few simple sentences in English together, leaving the vast majority of our negotiations to Google Translator.

In the end, by the power of sheer necessity, David's Spanish morphed and evolved into an improvised Italian, better suited to communicating meaning than Italian realtors English efforts. That's another rule and a common misconception of magic. You don't bend natural laws to manifest your desires in a physical realm out of thin air. Rather, you change yourself to become a person you need to be in order to get what you want.

Mostly, everyone is just really suspicious of our motivation to move to Italy and doesn't understand what we intend to do here for work. That's because we don't really know ourselves, fully believing nesting comes BEFORE figuring out a whole new work/life balance that would allow for being stationary for a few years.

Our positive 'Onwards and upwards' mantra got soon replaced by an exasperated 'back to the drawing board' and by the week three it's simply 'well, fuck'.

Firmly holding our vision through cycles of bargaining, cajoling, arguing (with each other and with the world), twisting it out of shape only to finally drop it and start the cycle again with a completely revised plan. Our vision board went through so many editing interventions, I find myself scrolling through pictures of a studio flat (originally, our minimum requirement was a two bedroom house with a garden) in severely underdeveloped suburbs of Rome (our unshakable condition for the location was a cycling distance from Florence) and literally physically screwing my face in efforts to try and squeeze a mental image of the two of us and our shared dream into this disgusting BUT AVAILABLE option.

30th October, I don't even fucking know where

We're spent. Bottom of the barrel type of spent. It's incredibly lonely. Because I suffer from the same misguided need as the rest of us millennials, which is seeking salvation outside ourselves - I send badly concealed SOS signals on WhatsApp left and right.

I'm not well at all - and bizarrely it makes me feel like no one else should be allowed the same. So I cry to David about feeling abandoned by Cori & Morgan, only to be reminded that their feelings (of wanting to be left alone for now) are no less valid just because I need them to be here for us. I don't seem to be understanding that it might be for the best if no one is holding our hand through this search for OUR home. That doing this alone and coming out victorious might mean much more for our growth and our future than if it was made easy by leaning on any sort of support system. I go through life trying not to have any expectations, which is a heroic effort probably always doomed to fail when it comes to your loved ones.

There is this strange phenomena I personally don't care for very much - which sadly doesn't make it any less real - once you become partnered, married or have kids, you kind of lose the right to feel lonely.

Any grievances about the injustices of life I might have & no matter in which direction I vent, I only receive one type of response:

"At least you have each other."

Of course, I don't find any sympathy from my parents either. Perhaps because we millennials got to grow up in times of rapidly evolving technology with enough neuroplasticity to adapt and benefit from it, boomers seem to share this feeling that unless we've been through trenches in Vietnam, our generation has nothing to complain about, and unless we survived a stint in Uranium-mining gulags, we definitely have no right to feel exhausted.

2nd November, Purgatory

This will forever be remembered as one of our worst days with one of the best outcomes - thanks to the Universe and this guardian angel in a real estate agent disguise - Valentina, who completely against all reason and against what seems logistically and financially possible for us, somehow really WANTS us to get this property.

We've been invited to her office in Rome for another round of negotiations on the medieval tower in Campello Sul Clittuno. We're doing the usual Google Translator back and forth. She doesn't seem to be accepting the mere fact we no longer have enough money for all of the deposits and fees required. I feel like hostage. There are heaps of Italian forms in front of us. The property owner wants to meet us, he'll be here in a few hours. I see David's got tears in his eyes, as he's winking rapidly Morse code for S-O-S at me. I already cried three times, puked once.

I am so close to losing the plot completely, straight-jacket style, I can't think of any way of getting us out of here. I decided I'd have to get in touch with my drama club roots and fake a medical emergency.

We are just one of many interested potential renters. There are others - proper grown ups with a proper business plan to turn this property into a lucrative Airbnb - the medieval tower sits right on the famous and popular Francis of Assisi pilgrimage, so it has a potential to be cashing out big time every spring. By the way, Francis of Assisi and the whole Mount Alverno business is thought to be a first documented alien craft abduction story, the proof is in the Vatican archives.

"It's like my second baby this tower," the annoyingly jovial - but with kind eyes - property owner, Mr Gilliberti says: "I trust you take a good care of my baby?" I look at David. What is happening right now? Together with Valentina, Mr Gilliberti cooked up a plan that never even crossed our mind - since you've clearly exhausted all of your funds on the search itself during these past few weeks, why don't we agree on starting the tenancy in mid January, which will give you enough time to make some money in your winter job?

We look at each other, they look at us, waiting...I want to puke again. We thought we'd come to Italy, find home, drop our stuff inside and leave for replenishing our empty bank account through contracting hospitality jobs in Alps during December. Somehow, we never thought of pushing our 'move in' date further into the future. It became harder and harder to object.

The moment of signing under that piece of paper representing a legal bond to deliver money - that we don't have yet any way of producing - within the next few weeks, will forever be the most dreadful nerve-racking two seconds of my life.

But guess what, as someone who assumed Kurt Vonnegut's 'We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.' as his life motto, I will need to suck it up and just get on with it.

"What now?" I look at David, totally stupefied, as we leave the realtor's office, not even close to beginning to process what just happened.

"First, let's get the fuck out of Rome."

"And then?"

"Let's get the fuck out of Italy and find a way to make some money."

We have about two months to somehow produce several thousands of euros for agency fees, security deposit and to figure out how to obtain Italian residency remotely, all of which we promised in various forms sealed with our signatures to do before 15th of January. The 'we don't eat until we find the next job' is nothing too unfamiliar - a stress of unpredictability that you assume as a necessary symptom of your 'on the road' adventure - with the only and ginormous difference being - at least now, we've put a pin in map and in calendar towards which everything else is heading. Still can't believe we'll leave the country without ever even seeing Cori and Morgan, but all of the past disgruntlement gets wrapped in a cotton-candy-like blanket of relief.

It's like emerging from a months long hangover, everything seems sharper somehow, like when you watch a blotchy YouTube video and the bandwidth suddenly allows for a full HD to kick in.

It's easy to lose track of your magic when life gets in a way. As we navigate evening traffic in Rome in a bid to put this equally traumatic and triumphant day and place behind us, we get to reflect.

'May it be this or something three times better', I always conclude my manifesting efforts, so that I don't block any unforeseen creative ways the energy of my spell might take to manifest on this material plane. And right on, we didn't get one, but three fireplaces - bedroom, kitchen and living room!

In my spellcrafting, I repeatedly asked for a cozy, cottage-core, magical chosen family hub, like those you see in animated movies by Ghibli studio. I was secretly envisioning Howl's Moving Castle for our first home, of course, and in a way, castle it is in the end! Our landlord's surname is Gilliberti - also kind of a little reshuffle of letters away from GHIBLI.

And the whole 9/11 thing? It will be only during our second visit to our future home that we notice the house number. Of course, it's 11. Not only is the building 9 hundred years old, built in 11th century, 9 and 11 right there, but the actual friggin' house number is also 11! Probably a surprise to no one - our anniversary also falls on the 11th of June.

Synchronicities are Universe's way of saying you're on the right path, I believe.

Our first year being married, our first home together, that's just for the two of us. One last stop in front of our future home, for now locked and sealed, ready to be unwrapped in mid-January. But for now, with the last of our savings barely allowing for leaving the country and getting our asses over to some seasonal job, most likely in French or Swiss Alps, mission number one is to produce money and feed them into what I hope will become our dream home. House hunt over, job hunt begins.

Onwards & upwards!