I remember a time in my childhood when the notion of locking the front door didn’t exist at that time I could go and play outside and my parents would never get worried, and it was the same for my children, but by that time, we already learned to lock our front doors…A generation later, children are always under supervision, parents are constantly holding their hand, fearing for their safety and wellbeing…
Once I read the most amazing quotes of all times: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
You heard lately the phrase “Be the change you want to see in the world”, and yet it is not clear how to find a sustainable living and a high quality life. Today we go to Abruzzo, in Italy, to meet Nikki Di Girolamo who is building an eco village and filming a new series ‘ I am building a village” You must know Nikki from one of the UK and US television programs ‘A Place in the Sun’ ‘I Want That House’, and ‘House Hunters’. Abruzzo is Nikki’s home for the last 23 years. And now she is opening the gates into this incredible feeling of wellness and wellbeing living inside this energetic barrier that keeps all good things and times together.
Imagine a place where your children can play till dark and you can leave your front door open
Perhaps you are already playing your part in green living and you understand that sustainability is very important. From simple energy saving techniques like recycling to supporting local producers, Rich Woman Magazine is promoting projects designed to make a positive impact, create sustainable lifestyle solutions and people, just like Nikki, who are determined to be the change we all want to see in the world.
What is your best kept secret?
I have a fabulous secret that not many people know about… I am building a village in central Italy. For anybody who’s spiritual, it’s a spiritual paradise. For anybody who loves nature, it’s a nature paradise. For anybody who loves wine, it’s literally right next door to a wine tasting heaven.
Really lots of fabulous people around, very warm and gentle people. And you can really bring value to the community, we’re all about community and just helping each other get through these trying times.
And it’s not just any village and it’s not just because it took us 10 years to get approval for but it’s actually a beautiful land. It’s 25 acres of olive Grove Lake and vineyard, overlooked by the church of the Mother Mary (this church has an incredible story). It was actually built in the 11th century because a shepherd on the Hills had a vision of the mother Mary. And she told him to build a village here- which was really strange because this church is in the middle of nowhere.
In the 16th century Mother Mary was actually seen by the whole of the village as the patron, impacting the locals there’s quite a lot of spiritual activity that actually happens here. It actually happened to me as I was speaking to one of my friends while showing her around. We were talking between ourselves and then suddenly this sort of amazing energy came around and I started crying. Imagine, I was me standing in the middle of the road for no reason, crying my eyes out. My friend felt so strange as well and we looked down the road and out of nowhere came 24 gold butterflies. They fly into the road, they go round and then they fly off. They weren’t there before and they weren’t there afterwards. It was really, really amazing and it was just something really special.
Just next to the Mother Mary Church is a school for disabled, which was approved after eight years into the planning permission process. Italy is not doing well, but somehow this church got a 2 million Euro grant for the most amazing facelift, and is overlooking our village. Built on 25 acres of olive grove, lake, vineyard, this is an eco-touristic village combining commercial entrepreneurship and social enterprise.
While we are primarily a business, profit is not the only reason we exist. We are here to help people live their dreams and build their wealth. This purpose activates us and motivates us. While making money is of course essential for the vitality and sustainability of our business, our focus is about improving the lives of the people that we connect with along the way by creating a win-win situation.
We want to create and optimize value for all our investors, visitors, local community, employees, partners, and vulnerable groups this will lead us to a healthy, sustainable, resilient business.
How many apartments and villas are in your village and how it’s going to look like?
We’ve got planning permission for three separate zones. We’re all about being at one with nature.
The Abruzzo Borgo is divided into various stand alone investment zones; each designed to cater to the different lifestyles of our guests and investors.
Zone A (located at the crest of the hill and consisting of the converted farmhouse) and Zone B (consisting of additional apartment units and a marvellous swimming pool) are ideal for rest and relaxation. Zone D (located below Zone B at the bottom of the south-eastern slope next to the Piazza Borgo) is perfect for families and those who enjoy more active holidays. Zone C (situated on the western hillside) is further away from the activity of the Piazza Borgo and is nestled above the nature reserve and lake, where clients can design their own individual castle homes. These also offer more privacy and exclusivity.
One of the areas is on top of a Hill, another is down to the Southeast. Here is a big flat plateau area where is going to be a wine tasting, the restaurants, shops, and a conference centre. To the Northwest there’s going to be an area of single family housing, designed to the clients needs, near the Lake, a private area..
We’ve actually built the first 20 apartments and we’re in the process of building the next 10 have planning approval for about 200 properties all together. Some of the blocks have big rooms for people who are coming for the conferences and retreats. There are standalone villas and each one can be personalized to the owners needs. We have 3 Castle Villas style. We use the old local stone, recuperated bricks all throughout the project. It’s all about being one with nature, reusing local materials, old beams, stone.
Zone A consists of the original farmhouse converted into 10 apartments of which 90% have been purchased. The one remaining section of the farmhouse is a special project to restore and preserve its condition while modernizing it, and will be complete once we find the right investor.
Situated just below Zone A, on the rise of the hill with valley views, lies Zone B, consisting of 2 apartment buildings with 10 apartments each. The apartments range from 1 to 3 bedrooms in size, with a number of private roof-gardens offering stunning views. Enclosed between Zone A and Zone B will be a landscaped garden with a water feature, an infinity pool overlooking the valley, and a fire pit carved out of the hillside, perfect for evening social gatherings.
Zone C is nestled on the western hillside overlooking the lake and the nature reserve. It will include villas and large apartments with several swimming pools exclusive to Zone C residents and guests. Zone C is intended to be the quietest and most luxurious part of the Borgo, with the opportunity for uniquely commissioned castle-houses bordering the lake to be your home. Near the top of the slope, will be 18 2-story villas (13 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom) and 5 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom-villas. Overlooking the lake and the surrounding eco-park will be 3 apartment blocks with 8 apartments in each.
Zone D lies below Zone B, separated by an olive grove and woodland, and on the other side borders the Piazza Borgo. Zone D will be comprised of a castle-home, 10 individual villas, 3 apartment buildings with 10 apartments each, and another 3 apartment buildings with 8 apartments each, all situated on flat land.
An exclusive private and gated recreation area will exist for Zone D residents and guests. It will include various swimming pools, a children’s play area, and BBQ facilities. Residents and guests of Zone D’s private villas will be able to use the communal facilities, and will have the option to build their own swimming pool to enjoy along with their private garden.
The Piazza Borgo
The Piazza Borgo, with its wine tasting vaults, quality restaurants, shops, pools, jacuzzies and fire pits and barbecue areas, will be the beating heart of the Abruzzo Borgo. Home to what will be the largest wine cellar in the region, where guests will be able to taste thousands of the best wines of Italy, the Piazza Borgo is an expanse of quality restaurants, hotel accommodation and every amenity you can think of. It sets the Abruzzo Borgo apart from other residential developments, making it a valuable feature of the Abruzzo Borgo project. The design of the Piazza Borgo is inspired by the architecture of old Italian Renaissance villas which surround an internal courtyard. It will have a commercial area of around 3,000 square meters, distributed over 3 floors. It will be purpose-built for 3 restaurants, a 6 bedroom boutique hotel, 8 private apartments, a wine cellar, a wedding event space, a conference centre, 10 heritage shops and a spa and wellness centre.
About Nikki Di Girolamo
Nikki fell in love with both Italy and property investment in the 1990’s and has established herself as a international property developer and media personality, and most recently as a social entrepreneur. Abruzzo Borgo is designed to revive the fundamentals of Italy – wine, olives, history and natural beauty.
Abruzzo Borgo History
In 2006, 25 acres of olive grove, lake and vineyard, and an old farmhouse and buildings was acquired by the entrepreneur, Nikki Di Girolamo. It was her vision to build a unique eco-touristic village that combines both social and commercial platforms to create a business eco system that benefits everyone from investors to clients to socially disadvantaged groups
The following 10 years were used to get the project approved. Permission was granted, and from 2017 the project has been underway. 20 apartments have been built and are now in use. The community now also boasts of one of the most beautiful infinity swimming pools in Abruzzo, with panoramic views overlooking the town of Alanno and a view stretching 50km down the valley.
After 10 years when the project was finally approved via more than 20 public offices, this makes it probably the only approved project of its kind in the whole of Italy!