This family is moving to Italy because they are tired of the United States

This family is moving to Italy because they are tired of the United States

While dozens of Italian towns sell old homes for cheap, foreigners rushing to get one are often looking for a year-round sunny spot, a vacation getaway, or just to live out their Italian dream.

But one American family did just that to start a new life far away from the United States.

In 2019, the Dawkins family — Nadine, 59, her husband Kim, 61, and their children Lorenzo, 29, and Denai, 27 — bought a charming home in the town of Latronico. In the southern region of Basilicata, the town of 4,000 lies within the pristine Pollino National Park and is surrounded by hot springs.

They got excited after reading a CNN article about Latronico initiative To sell cheap houses that are already habitable, rather than ruins, for one euro, or just over a dollar. The city announces available real estate on a custom site.

As she read the article at her home in El Paso, Texas, Nadine Dawkins, a retired former soldier and businesswoman, felt the pull of her ancestors.

Her great-grandfather was Italian and came to America in the 19th century.

“After hearing my nonna’s stories, I always felt a connection to Italy,” she told CNN Travel.

As a soldier stationed in the area after many years, I vowed to return. Years later, my husband and I brought our kids to see where they came from.”

Its Italian ancestor took on an American name when it landed in the States: Clint Jeffrey. Little does Nadine know about her great-grandmother, Lucinda, who was enslaved on a plantation in Arkansas when Jeffrey She bought her, and he “lived out the rest of his days with her,” she said.

“Unfortunately, I have no further information about Lucinda. All I know is that she was a slave girl, and he bought her. My grandmother and great-grandmother never told me anything else about her. I believe that slavery and its memories were due to these atrocities; for their births are in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” It was a difficult time for all blacks in America.”

Nadine and Kim Dawkins are planning to move to Italy.  - Nadine Dawkins

Nadine and Kim Dawkins are planning to move to Italy. – Nadine Dawkins

The family decided they wanted to leave the United States in 2020, after the murder of George Floyd.

“It showed the world how we blacks have been treated in America for centuries,” says Nadine.

“All the racism, all the divisions, all the hate that the last administration has brought to the fore” has caused an “exodus” of blacks from America who have the means to do so, she says.

“Basically, police brutality towards black people, mass shootings from domestic terrorists, and general hatred in this country is why we are leaving the United States.”

The move follows Nadine’s 30-year career in the military, while Kim Dawkins works for the US government.

The family will soon move to Panama before making the final leap across the Atlantic to Latronico.

Nadine doesn’t know exactly where her ancestor came from, but snapping up one of Latronico’s cheap homes seemed like a good way to reconnect with her roots.

“I was up in the middle of the night during Covid, with plenty of time to read, when I came across the CNN story. We immediately emailed Deputy Mayor Vincenzo Castellano and looked at properties online.

“We didn’t expect it – he called us the next day. We set up a video call, he sent us a video of our chosen house. This sealed our fate: we bought the sight of the house unseen, without going to Italy,” she recalls.

“When something is right, it is right.”

Their home in Latronico was move-in ready.  -

Their home in Latronico was move-in ready. –

The Dawkins are grateful to have found Latronico’s dream team — Castellano and his assistant Mariangela Tortorella — who helped them navigate the sale process, and found local businesses to remodel and furnish their homes.

In fact, they trusted Castellano – who launched the housing scheme – so much that they handed him power of attorney for all technical issues, as well as translating the purchase deed into English.

Their house in the historic district of Latronico required a bit of a renovation to suit their needs, though the exterior did get a fresh coat of paint.

The three-storey house belonged to an “upper-crust” villager, as Nadine describes the woman who elegantly decorated the house with pieces of antique furniture.

The previous owner left two beds, a wardrobe and ‘ornaments’ including porcelain cups.

The family added two bathrooms, as all the old houses in Latronico only had one. There are two bedrooms, a kitchen that has been expanded into a huge dining room, and an underground cellar.

Insect screens have been added to all windows, and panoramic balconies have been created overlooking the main church to better enjoy morning espressos and evening aperitifs.

“We picked it up right away and started the paperwork – when something feels right it’s right. No hitches,” says Nadine.

Title deeds were signed in 2021, and the final cost of the home totaled €42,000 ($46,700).

The pair hardly needed to do any renovations.  -

The pair hardly needed to do any renovations. –

“Vincenzo’s team made the whole process so easy. I trust them with my life and call them my nephews.” “If there was any problem, I could count on them,” she says. The family hired Castellano as their property manager.

It was hard to do it all alone.

“On my own I could see the problems I was going to run into – for example, the language barrier. They acted like spearheads.”

Nadine wants to promote language exchange by teaching English to local youth once she moves to Latronico, and aims to help put the village even further on the map.

“We love people,” she says. “We have never met a single mean person, everyone serves coffee. One day we met a villager in a shop and we became like best friends – he took us to his house for espresso, even though I don’t even drink coffee.

Building a new life

Kim and his wife, Nadine, plan to apply for an optional resident visa.  - Nadine Dawkins

Kim and his wife, Nadine, plan to apply for an optional resident visa. – Nadine Dawkins

During visits, the Dawkins appreciated the slow lifestyle, sitting at the front door and watching people walk around or listening to the cats fighting in the silent alleys.

For now, they plan to spend six months a year in Italy (using the “90 days in every 180 days” rule that non-EU citizens must abide by) and then apply for a permanent “optional residence” visa that requires a certain annual amount of income. passive. The remainder of their time they will spend in Panama.

In the end they want to get Italian citizenship.

Clint Jeffrey was Dawkins' Italian predecessor.  - Nadine Dawkins

Clint Jeffrey was Dawkins’ Italian predecessor. – Nadine Dawkins

Once in Italy, Nadine hopes to be able to begin tracing the true identity and origins of her Italian ancestor. She has no idea exactly where in Italy he came from, but she keeps an old picture of him in a thick wooden frame.

Of Lucinda—whose last name must be the name of the plantation on which she was enslaved, Nadine believes—she says that “black American history has been lost” or eliminated from American culture.

“We need to get out of America, so we get out. The US is a divided, divisive country, and voting rights and black history are being undone. I’m tired,” says Nadine.

Meanwhile, Kim says the only challenge at Latronico is overcoming language barriers and getting used to the solitude.

“People are so patient with me to use my translator every time, and the village is remote, so you really need a car to get around outside of places that are within walking distance,” he says.

“But the great thing is that even at night you can leave the keys in the door. It’s a quiet, safe place that gives peace of mind.”

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