Where I come from, there’s a popular folk tale about an old man, who came up against many hardships in life, and in a bid to reduce the gravity of the situation would use an expression as concise as it was significant: "It’s neither good nor bad." According to the moral of the story, nothing is ever completely negative, all things give us a source of strength for the future. You just need a little courage and optimism.
The story of Maggie Brew, fashion and TV hair stylist, amongst the most valued and in demand in London in the late 90s, is an example of this extraordinary foresight. She came to Italy fifteen years ago for a summer holiday in the renowned Tuscan countryside and was immediate struck with the feeling that her soul was slowly nearing, in time and space, its 'perfect spot', like a dowser gradually approaching the miraculous water source.
It was only a matter of time. Five years later, no doubt while she was busy combing the hair of one of the many Vogue models who have passed under her scissors, a customer who knew her well, gave her a copy "of The Guardian or The Daily Telegraph, I can't remember ", in which was an interesting article about a Brand called Paradise Possible, who were promoting an unknown region of Italy called Le Marche. She could immediately see from the pictures what a beautiful place it was, untouched and, like all unknown and surprising places, full of possibilities.
Despite her slender and elegant appearance, Maggie, I can assure you, doesn’t have any heirs and graces. For years she bounced from TV studio to TV studio, from one photo shoot to another, and she did so tirelessly and without complaint, all the while aware that this wasn’t the life for her. Fate was reaching out to her, why should she let indecision hold her back? In fact it was Maggie who told me: "Everybody must do what they feel. We always have to take risks, for our own happiness. "
So, armed with the honest courage that shines in her deep blue eyes, she asked her son (who, by the way is now a teacher in China: the spirit of adventure runs in the family) to have a look at the Paradise Possible website and the properties listed for sale so that she could see if there was anything that might be suitable for her. As fate would have it, her home was already waiting for her, it just needed to be discovered: among the various images of ruins, Maggie fell in love with an old house, its roof tumbling in on it, perched on a slope overlooking the endless valley and surrounded by silent nature, the house attracted her "like a magnet." With that irrational certainty that sometimes happens to us, ten years ago Maggie realised immediately that this was her home and always had been. She raced to Italy, rented a house for two weeks at Lake Trasimeno (it just goes to show how little known Le Marche was at that time), and hurried to 'get acquainted' with her future home. Our Editor, Grazia Grazie, suggested other homes to her, but there was nothing to be done, the cottage at Vallemontagnana was the only one for her. She bought it without a thought, investing her savings to reinvent her life. For nine years, every month for two days she went to Fabriano to see her dream being realized, brick by brick. It took patience and above all hope. Of course it wasn’t without days of despair: the renovation of a house which was bigger than she’d imagined became more and more expensive every day, andon several occasions she had to ask herself "What am I doing?".
One afternoon, with her purse empty and having already sold her home in London, working 6 days a week, 20 hours a day, and for three years, not having anywhere else to sleep but the floor of her shop, she went for a walk on the mountain above the cottage. Arriving at the summit, she sat down and closed her eyes, utterly despondent and about to give it all up, then it happened, just a few meters away, a mighty bald eagle, with its magnificent wings spread, protecting its offspring, was staring at her. The eagle and its brood took flight and began to circle above her. Maggie, at first frightened, then felt that this was a sign, urging her to stay strong. And so, says Maggie, every time she had a moment of uncertainty, the pair of eagles that inhabit the skies above Vallemontagnana returned to see her "like a force pushing me."
Today, Maggie and her black cat Delilah, can finally call themselves the happy owners of a house that seems to look out not only on the beautiful mountain sunsets but towards the future. Maggie is also convinced that the mountain on which the house stands, conceals immense caves (as there are throughout the area, such as the Grotte di Frasassi) emitting positive energy. She told me that those who spend their holidays at the property, which for the past year and a half has been a B&B, arrive tired and tense but wake up the next day thoroughly rejuvenated. Even in winter and particularly during the holidays, when she feels a little nostalgic for friends and family ("not for London!") and wonders whether she made the right choice, it only takes a minute for her to look around and her optimism is immediately restored. Optimism in an environment that suits her and one in which she recognizes and recalls the days of the purchase of that 'magnetic' ruin as being "The Happiest Day of Her Life."
The Paradise Trotter
4 comment(s) so far...
By Spencer on
Re: Real Lives
By Rachael Heap - Charmley on
Re: Real Lives
Hi Maggie. So, so pleased you made your dream come true. What a beautiful place.Much love. Rachaelxx
By Maggie Brew on
Re: Real Lives
Thankyou Spencer and Rachael for your comments!
It is truly beautiful here in Vallemontagnana and I am so glad I took the risk to change my life, you must come and visit! LeMarche is a very natural region of Italy and I am grateful I found it.
Thankyou Paradise Possible for giving me the opportunity!!!
Love Maggie x
By Mary Grimshaw on
Re: Real Lives – Maggie's dream
Are you the Maggie who had a salon in Harleston, Norfolk? If so, I was sitting in the garden of your friend Ginni a couple of days ago and she was telling me about your wonderful home in Le Marche.