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Ever wonder what it takes to renovate an Italian palazzo?

Running a B&B in Italy

Today’s newsletter is an interview with Debbie and Darrel Stacey, a couple originally from the UK, who own and operate (and painstakingly restored!) Palazzo Cariddi, a luxury B&B in Nardò, Puglia. With care, love and a lot of hard work, they restored the palazzo from disrepair to its former glory.

Debbie and I chatted about language, moving countries, the palazzo’s storied history and some surprising things she found about living in Puglia.


Lloyd Miner (LM): Hi Debbie, thanks so much for taking the time. I always start with language: How many languages do you speak? And when did you learn them?

Debbie: English is my first language, and I speak some Italian. I started learning Italian about eight years ago when we decided that we would move to Italy in the future.

LM: What’s a word or phrase in Italian that you love that doesn’t exist in English and vice versa? Debbie: Italian – Boh; English – Lairy

Darrell and Debbie Stacey and their dog Gigi. Two adults and a dog
Darrell and Debbie Stacey and their dog Gigi

Moving country:

LM: How did you end up in Italy? And in Nardò?

Debbie: We have been visiting Italy for approximately twenty years, and we had always set our hearts on moving there; it was only a matter of when and where. Through our travels, we decided on Puglia and, in 2016, organised a scouting trip for suitable properties to provide a home and also B&B.

Nardò was not on our list. However, we have a friend from Matino who works in London, and he has always been telling us how wonderful Nardò was. None of the properties we had arranged to see were suitable, and it was raining. As we had three days spare, we decided to take our friends’ advice and visit Nardò. We were introduced to an estate agent, saw the palazzo and bought it before we left for home after three days.

Slow down. Puglia needs to be explored at a slow pace to benefit from the wonderful places it has to offer.

LM: What were some of the most surprising things about moving to Italy? Expectations you had that were perhaps misplaced or things that wow-ed you that you hadn’t expected?

Debbie: Most surprising: how many people talk on their mobile phones when driving. Absolute madness! Wow: The warmth and friendliness of the local people is wonderful.

LM: How does Italy differ from where you've lived previously?

Debbie: Slower pace, especially when it is siesta. The weather is vastly better. How families go out together, including the children, and they can play in the piazza and be safe.

The palazzo

LM: Were you looking to run a hotel? And what was it like when you first saw it?

Debbie: The palazzo had been empty for 15 years and, previous to that, had been a “casa famiglia” (institution) and, prior to that, a family home. You can imagine the state it was in with communal bathrooms, rotting windows etc.

LM: Describe the restoration process. How long did it take? What do you know now that you didn’t when you started?

Debbie: We finalised the sale in December 2016, moved here permanently in February 2018 (although our part had not been completed), and opened for business in December 2018.

What we know now is that no one works to a timescale. Even if there is a schedule of works, the deadline is immaterial.

When we finally moved here, we worked alongside the builders to remove paint and demolish bathrooms: any manual work that didn’t require expertise just to move things along.

LM: The palazzo has a storied history. Tell us a bit about it over the years.

Debbie: Records indicate that the palazzo was built around 1526 and was originally a single building with the adjacent property, which was previously an oil mill with one mill and five presses. The palazzo has maintained its original compositional formation and is of great historical-architectural value in the city. It presents characteristics of style and particular value, especially in the frames that define the openings of the entrance door and the windows with ornamental stone frames, as well as the decoration in the original Portal of Access. Internally the rooms facing Via Lata boast a series of vaults, including three splendid and very unusual lancet vaults once richly decorated with bobbins, friezes and elaborate capitals ruinously eliminated by the owners of 1944. There remains only in the corner room - between Via Lata and Via Immacolatella - the keystone with the coat of arms of the noble family that owned it.

Each room is named in honour of the families who previously lived in the palazzo.

The noble de ‘Pantaleonibus family almost certainly commissioned and transformed the building for the wedding of his daughter Antonia de 'Pantaleonibus with Lucantonio Personè (1566-1626),

In the Catasto Onciario (land register) of 1753, the palazzo is owned by the noble Gallipolino, Domenico Orazio Cariddi, counted as wealthy who lived here with his wife Tommasina Manieri, and their eight children.

After purchasing the property in 2016, we created a record of the restorations and revival of the palazzo, returning it back to its former glory through our two Facebook pages. If you would like to see the transformation, please visit: Palazzo Cariddi or Renovating the Palazzo

Roof terrace, Palazzo Cariddi
Roof terrace, Palazzo Cariddi


LM: What are some of your top tips for Puglia? Especially for people looking to avoid the masses?

Debbie: Do not visit in August. Leave it to the Italians. It is too crowded and too hot, May and September/October are nice months to visit.

Make an effort with the language, as English and other languages are still not common. This will endear you to the local people and also provide much hilarity if you get it wrong.

Slow down. Puglia needs to be explored at a slow pace to benefit from the wonderful places it has to offer.

You can read more about Palazzo Cariddi and book a stay here.


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