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About TheHollies

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  1. At first glance that appears true but if you search repeatedly on all the SRA Giambrone links you'll find three of them :- Gabriele Michael Giambrone who I believe is the head of the firm; Ana Cinzia D'Arpa - head of Private Clients who was handling my work; Unfortunately I can't remember the third person (a male) and my internet connx here in Italy is too slow to re-browse the SRA fully. David
  2. Well they are fully licensed for all Italian work - they are based in Palermo (I think their website also says they have offices in Milan, Rome, New York and Casablanca along with the strange address I found in London). Although I wrote to the London address every letter, invoice etc from them came back with only their Palermo address at the top. And they didn't do anything wrong for me, they were just slow responding to requests for progress - I only became worried when they billed me for all the work before they'd really started. They said that was a pro-forma invoice just to advise me of the final fees although I'd had a fully itemised quotation before I went ahead with them so I knew the exact fees. It was then that I searched the Internet again and found the SRA judgement. For me it was simply a question of losing confidence in them not that they'd actually done anything wrong, in fact except for being tardy with progress reports they appeared very professiona and even as I was losing confidence in them I did note that there are good recommendations for them from satisfied customers out on the web. Hope it all goes well for you. David
  3. Yes - I started to use them in early Feb 2011 for Italian probate (my wife died in Jan), they were recommended by an acquaintance in Puglia. Very expensive but seemed highly professional, however after receiving a strange invoice from them at the end of Feb I searched deeper on the internet and found that on 18 Feb 2011 the SRA (effectively the UK Law Society 'police') posted a judgement against them (dated July 2009) for various things (mis-use of client accounts being nbr 1) - they are no longer licensed to operate in UK. I visited their new address at 88-90 Hatton Gardens and it seems to be an accommodation address (I'm not absolutely certain but I think it's run by West-One Busines Services who offer 'virtual office' facilities) - Giambrone Law give the appearance on their web-site of being UK based but I don't believe this is true. Apparently the problems stem from 'off-plan' developments in Calabria or Campania during 2008, many complaints were raised with the SRA by clients who claimed their deposits went missing - therefore the 2009 judgement. I promptly stopped using them as I'd lost confidence in them. David
  4. Hi Before we bought I read that ICI was (in general 0.06% of the Cadastral value), that approx 6% per thousand of what we once would have called the Rateable Value in the UK in the old days. These figures match up with what Bluesfan & others have said above as I believe the actual calc is more complex than a simple 0.06%. Remember, your cadastral value is the rated value not what you paid for your property - normally considerably less than you paid. We pay a miniscule amount (less than 60 euros a year - all valid & correct) as our cadastral value is practically nothing - I'm ashamed to even print it here. BUT.. it's based on the original rating for the small agricultural land and ruin we bought 2 years ago, now it's a lovely 3 bed, 2 bath large trulli/villa the value should be far higher -- therefore also our ICI. BUT.. you don't need to get your cadastral revalued until you get your final certicato di abilitate (possible misspelling) - now as long as you've any work outstanding you can delay getting that final certificate (our Italian friends keep a little bit of work outstanding for many years just for this purpose!!). Note you can't sell without this certificate though. It's the cadastral value that sets the ICI sum each year (plus backpayments & fines) so you can get widely differing figures for similar or even identical properties in the same commune. It would help if everyone quoting widely differing figures in this thread quoted their cadastral value instead of the actual ICI they pay then we could all check if the system is working as I've been told - mind you I'm too embarassed to display my 'poco' valuation! As long as your commune says you're paying the correct amount - don't worry (too much!). David
  5. Karen We agree entirely - it will be a terrible shame if some 'English' are backing out of agreed deals and upsetting locals by refusing to pay. It's only correct to agree in advance, then agree any changes and pay promptly. As an example, we recently had a drive and car parking area carved out of our field, packed with hard core, rolled and then covered with white gravel. The quote was 4300 +IVa but I said I only wanted to pay 2000 in total - after much negotiation (and laughter) we agreed 2500 cash. During the job we asked for a few extra bits & pieces which he happily did - so at the end of the job I gave him 2700 but he looked a bit disappointed so I aked him what he thought the extras should be worth - he couldn't give me an answer so I gave him another 100 asked him if he was 'contento' and we are now the best of friends. He lives near us and toots every time he sees our car, he has brought a couple of friends & family to see our drive and will do the excavation for our pool in the Autumn. Local friendships & being part of the community are what we came to Italy for and are more important to us than a few euros (mind you we don't like paying 'English' prices for anything). David & Chris
  6. We had a complete Trullo restoration done near Alberobello and we got fixed price quotes through an Italian friend who is a qualified plumber & electrician. Naturally (this being Italy) the quotes all came from his friends & colleagues who he works with most of the time - but all the quotes were very detailed in every aspect and as he told them all the work was for Italians we didn't get ripped off. The quality of the finished work is superb and we'd recommend them to anyone. PM me if you want his details. David PS we are planning a pool this autumn and have got quotes from Grandi Impianti at Bari (very expensive) & Piscine Castiglione in Martina Franca (very good) but still a bit pricey for us. Still looking for someone good but not too expensive.
  7. Hi Jane & Derek When we first tried the Hull ferry route last year on our way back in early Dec, we wanted to visit a war cemetery in Tourcaine so Zeebrugge was the nearest (safest) port for us. The german route looks faster than the French/Swiss one though. David & Chris
  8. Tks for that info We've been using Hull-Zeebrugge route and taking an extra day in Italy so as to arrive late morning or mid-day as we've so much to do on arrival and don't want to be too kn*****ed. Bradford born but currently living near Ripponden (outside Halifax) the Hull routes are definately best for Northerners. David & Chris
  9. Hope we can help address this point... We've fully restored an large 8 cone Trulli and added a 49 sq metre extension (large modern kitchen & house bathroom) across the last 2 years (work started in Feb 2005 and we first slept in it in Sep 2006). We had four fixed price contracts for roof (trullaro), restoration (muraturo) inc piazzale, new build inc septic tank & fitting out (electrics, gas, central heating, hot & cold water, bathrooms, kitchen units). Our costs increased in three main areas... 1 We changed our minds on a few issues and authorised mainly extra work on restoration. 2 The commune changed their minds on planning permission and wanted a higher spec on the new build (to match the character of the Trulli). 3 A long delay due to having to sack our Trullaro and find a new one (over 10 mths) meant we spent a lot more during the whole build process on travel to & fro UK/Puglia. The first 2 items increased our costs by about 7% over our intial budget (could have been worse but need to discuss this off-line!). The third was the most expensive overspend - lots of extra trips, long stays etc are all costs we didn't budget for. Overall, the whole project was great - yes we spent more than planned but not too much and the result is absolutely great. As to lots of the other points mentioned in this thread, we did a full restoration, roof, walls, floor etc and don't suffer any damp issues though there is still some internal 'wet-work' drying out. Gas central heating (not under floor as too slow for us - we like immediate heat when returning on a cool/cold evening) with a wood-burning Termo Caminetto that can take-over the radiator & hot-water heating. All 8 cones were fully restored (every stone removed, worked then replaced), our beautiful Chiance floor was neither big enough for the whole new build nor smooth enough for daily use/cleaning so we replaced it internally with rustic style modern tiles and used it outside as our piazzale. Hope this helps your original query.
  10. Hi I did a lot a research into all the options listed in this topic... One-way Sat Two-way Sat 3G Data via mobile phones with modems 3G Data cards As Spring & Autumn visitors for 3 mths at a time we didn't want a landline with ADSL like back in the UK, the Sat prices are very expensive for relatively low speeds & the 3G technology is shooting forward. Obviously, permanent dwellers here in Puglia will have different needs. TIM is reputed to be the most advanced provider of 3G in Italy & Puglia. They provide 4 levels of service. Naturally like everyother supplier there is the pretty useless GPRS which has been around for years and is equivalent to std dial-up speeds (56K) though with contention issues (multiple users) you normally get slower speeds. This is just the same as in the UK. The next level is called EDGE which gives you 237 Kbps, about 4x faster than dial-up speeds. This is very good for emails, banking & general usage (like Puglia Posse!) but not for high graphic content sites or video/TV. We often switch off pictures which gives us reasonable speeds for sites like PP, our banks (Italy & UK) and when listening to the BBC over the internet etc. The next level is UMTS, twice as fast as EDGE at 400+ Kbps, this is about the same as entry-level broadband in the UK (which claims to be 1meg - actually normally runs at about 500K+ down & 256K up). Whilst UMTS isn't anywhere near my 6meg UK broadband it's really very good. The new highest level is HDSPA which runs at a staggering 3.6 megabyte (though I haven't yet tried it so can't actually tell you how good it really is). This is only an interim service as the full HDSPA spec is for 7.2 Mbps but the various bodies can't agree the std yet so it's been introduced at 3.6 to get things started. TIM's coverage of these 4 options is quite good and improving every month.- note that when reception is poor it can be very frustrating. We're 2.5 kilometres outside Alberobello and get good EDGE & weak UMTS - UMTS is strong in the town but we're behind a hill. HDSPA has currently reached Putignano (11 kilometers north of us and is due here sometime soon (well they would say that wouldn't they!!!). TIM have two service options... A Sim card for 20 euros per mth (30 days) or 500 Mbyetes of download, you pay extra at a heavy rate if you exceed this quantity but you can recharge the card as frequently as you like once you've used the free allowance. For those of you who don't know, using emails only for a month would be hardly any usage (unless you have massive photo attachments) but 2 hours of listening to BBC radio or reading Puglia Posse might use 8 or 9 million from your mthly total. We average about 1.5 million bytes per mth but this can vary user by user according to your net habits. or A Sim card for 25 euros per mth (30 days) or 9 gigabytes of downloads (absolutely massive amounts unless you've got HDSPA and are watching TV all night via the net!). However..you can only use it within the hours of 17:00 to 09:00 and all day at weekends and Feste (ie at off peak times). Outside of these hours or over the 9 gig you pay the same high rate as the first option. You can get either of these options as PayAsYouGO or Monthly Contracts - we use the PAYG version of the 25 euro option as we can just skip a month or 2 when we return to the UK and then recharge when we return. These are called MaxxiTIM Webtime Facile Ricarica & MaxxiTIM Webtime Ricarica (Ricarica being the PAYG version). You buy the SIM at any CentroTIM shop and recharge it the same way (or via all the other ways to recharge Sims). You choose a username, they give you a numeric password and the APN (Access Point Name) of ibox.tim.it - you enter these tree items into your laptop/computer software that came with your datacard or that you got from your mobile supplier and your on-line (at least that's how it was for us). Vodaphone & WIND offer similar services which were all originally aimed at business users (road warriors in the lingo of the trade). TIM is advertising it's services for domestic users who don't have fixed lines - perfect for us seasonal visitors. As I mentioned at the start of this incredibly long post TIM are supposed to offer the best 3G service as well. At last (I can hear you all sigh - Thank God) - what do you need to get connected. To really use UMTS & HDSPA you should go for a Datacard wireless modem. I have a Merlin UX870 HDSPA 3.6 card plugged into my laptop which auto-switches to the highest level service EDGE, UMTS, HDSPA (I wish) it can find. During typing all this it's switched about 3 times between EDGE, UMTS & GPRS (there's a thunderstorm nearby). It cost me £200 in UK but it's the most expensive on the market and it's also a rare Express mini-card - you can find 'cheaper' ones. TIM sell a card (199 euros) or a USB modem for a lot less - check their web site if you can read (or follow) Italian. Most 3G mobile phones have a modem included but only the very high spec recent expensive versions will have UMTS or HDSPA functionality. I'm off now as I've bored mysel;f to death with all this - hope it helps someone somewhere if not technically then at least to drop off to sleep. Bye all David
  11. The trouble with growing 'wild flowers' as we've done for long periods in the last 2 years is you may not be popular with your neighbours. If they motozap (rotivate) their fields often as two of ours do they hate to see an natural (untidy weed-filled in their mind) field next door. We've decided to be good contradini and keep the soil under our few trees clear all year. By the way - re the original question - we have 4000 sq mtrs (3000 of which are strictly field now we've built the drive & garden) and we did a deal with a local farmer to plough it for around 60 euros (pui o meno). We'll have this done 3 or 4 times a year to keep it clear. Rgds David
  12. Hello Everyone I'm David & my wife is Chris(tine), we live in West Yorkshire and 2 yrs ago bought an 8 cone trullo in the commune of Martina Franca but only five minutes outside Alberobello. After restoration of what was a complete ruin plus a large new build extension we moved in last Sept. We're Spring & Autumn visitors as the summer is normally too hot for us (we endured 35+ degrees when we stayed here May thru July last year!! This is too much for us pale Northern folk.) This year we arrived at the start of Mar and leave for England mid-June - then back again late August to stay thru to Nov. As you might guess I'm retired (a knackered 63 yr old) and my (much) younger wife is 'between jobs' - just when we need any extra money to finish off the garden & pool. A few bits of general info on topics that seem to be of general interest.. 1 We drive out here & back after considering almost every other possible car purchase/hire option! 2 When buying we opted out of our (excellent) agents total service deal and made new local friends who got us Italian quotes and project managed all our work - though it did take twice as long as planned (you just can't beat the system!). Still what we lost on time we made up in money terms. 3 We now use laptop/wireless modem with a SIM card from TIM to access the internet, email, BBC radio and ITV Soaps write-up (Chris needs her Corrie updates!!). We chose the limted hours (17:00-09:00 plus all day Sat/Sun) service at 25 euros for 30 days or 9 gigabyte transfers (hard to use). The modem could give us speeds faster than our UK broadband (2 MByte) if we were in an area with HSDPA (3.6 MByte) but tragically this has only reached Putignano (11 miles away). We have to make do with 237 MBytes/sec which is more than 4 times normal dial-up - but this is pretty good for most things and excellent for email & radio. 4 We've made loads of local Italian friends which is one of the joys of Puglia and so far haven't listened out for many English accents but now that we more settled we'd like to know of any neighbours from home. 2 Years ago we had no Italian but after night school GCSE plus 7 months here last year we sem to be able to do everything we want - I think our pronunciation is terrible but our friends are too polite to tell us. Chris knows more shopping terms whilst I can argue tech details with murature, hydraulici, geometre ecc.. 5 As Jul/Aug is too hot for us we hope to rent the property out to offset some (or all) of our costs, this year is too early for us as we've not finished the outside areas - but we have hopes for next year. Overall we love Puglia as our second home, the food & wine of course plus the weather but in particular the people with all their idiosyncratic ways. Whilst our large Trullo/Villa is now complete inside we're currently working hard to make a garden, finish the BBQ area and prepare for the pool we'll install in Sep if our savings stretch so far. Hello to everyone. David & Chris The Hollies (our surname shortens to Holly which used to be my nickname)
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