Those who followed us on Instagram last year already know the name Casa Pieve. And after our little cottage has become a bit of a focal point for one or the other traveler, we now want to report about it here.

As we all know, Tiny Houses are very trendy. And after being on the road full time with our VW bus for three years, two wishes remained unfulfilled:

  1. We wanted to have a home port again. A place where we can retreat from time to time.
  2. It should become a Tiny House. Something that does not burden us unnecessarily, but allows us to continue to travel.

This we have found in the Casa Pieve. It is our new base. A tiny house in a large olive grove. In the valley of the olives. In Sicily. Picturesquely nestled between green hills.

Casa Pieve: Tiny House in the olive grove above Bagheria

We are on the north coast of Sicily. The Valley of the Olives is located between the quiet Misilmeri and Bagheria, rich in history. Beautiful, quiet and green, pure nature. The few houses in this area are old farmhouses and vacation homes that are only used once in a while over the weekend and especially in the summer. Or not at all anymore.

From our Casa Pieve we drive about 15 minutes to the next town, Bagheria or Misilmeri. And a good half hour to Palermo. The sea is less than half an hour away. So our cottage is simply, all alone in the middle of nowhere. And that was exactly what we were looking for.

Although so far away from the shot, we are still easily accessible. Getting to and from us is easy and inexpensive. Direct flights from Germany are often available for little money. Ryanair flies all year round, on Mondays and Fridays, in summer also Eurowings.

However, we prefer the ferry. After all, we want to have our planBwagen, Tiny House No. 2, with us. The ferry goes from Genoa, Livorno, Civitavecchia near Rome or Cagliari on Sardinia to Palermo. There is also a connection to Tunisia. Alternatively from Civitavecchia to Termini Imerese. You could also go all the way down the boot and cross at Messina. So one remains flexible.

Casa Pieve: Tiny House in the olive grove above Bagheria

This connection from and to Germany and the rest of the world, was and is important to us. After all, we don't want to miss out on our friends, acquaintances and the one or other exciting visit. In addition, it is planned that we continue to travel.

But after 3 years of fulltime vanlife, a certain fatigue became noticeable. Too many impressions in too short a time. We hardly had time to process anything. Only someone who has experienced this can understand that.

We traveled slower and slower, staying in one place for 3 days. Rented us in bad weather also sometimes an accommodation. For example, at the end of 2020 in Cefalù, and in December 2021 on Crete. We spend Christmas just like cozy in front of the fireplace.

Why Sicily?

The 1st time we were in 2015 on this island. I do not know exactly why we have made a round trip here on the island. Also not who of us both had the idea. In any case, we actually did this typical tourist thing. Sicily circumnavigation in 10 days.

Casa Pieve: Tiny House in the olive grove above Bagheria

Self-drive round trip was probably called at that time. Route and all accommodations were suggested and booked by a travel agency. Enjoy wine and dolce vita. We imagined very romantic. It was. But it was also more stressful than we thought. Because Sicily is much bigger than you think. And you also sit in the car more than you actually wanted.

Thus our tip, Sicily is worth a trip more often. Rather a trip in a few small stages. In Palermo alone you can spend weeks and still have not seen everything.

Nevertheless, it was already clear then, this island is not only something special, but we also felt a special connection. Perhaps because Marc tells me for the first time that he was not only conceived under the Italian sun, but also his family ties to Sicily.

His aunt Rosemarie married a Sicilian, Uncle Mario, many years ago. I only say two cousins and four cousins, a real famiglia. That he still has relatives in Sicily, I think came out later.

In the fall of 2020, we were then the first time with the Bulli on Sicily. Actually, the plan was first to spend several weeks in Sardinia. But when the news spread that Sardinia would be red zone because of Corona, we spontaneously crossed to Sicily.

Casa Pieve: Tiny House in the olive grove above Bagheria
Because we feared otherwise to be stuck or to be able to leave the island only in the direction of the north. What irony. Because then Sardinia was not red zone at all. But Sicily was. And thus we were stuck here. Which was our great luck.

However, we understood that only later. Because so we had this beautiful island almost for ourselves. Exactly our thing. For quite 5 months, October 2020 to March 2021.

I think that's when I (Torgit) fell in love with Sicily. I was simply thrilled by the complexity. This surprises me again and again. And then this breathtaking nature, which is always different.

And of course the warmth of the people. It is simply incomprehensible that the Sicilians, who have been conquered and oppressed over and over again for thousands of years, are still so open to the foreigner. Finally, of course, the vastness, the loneliness. Especially the latter I love very, very much.

Our dog Lucifer at Casa Pieve

Friends of ours have a vacation home in Spain. Wouldn't we rather buy something there? The answer is quickly made. Too crowded and especially too touristy. Other friends have settled in Mallorca. The neighboring house was also on offer. We quickly realize, the Baleraren are not only too small, too expensive, but also too German.

Okay, maybe Greece? So let's go to Greece. There we are in winter 21/22 almost snowed in Crete. The weather was bad for weeks. It rained constantly. The ferries are twice as expensive as in Italy. Island hopping is unfortunately not fun because of the ferry costs. And the food was not mine. Too meat-heavy and I only say sugared milk.

It became more and more clear that we needed a base again. After three years on tour we needed a little home again. And by now it was also clear to us where this home should be. We wanted a small house, a Tinyhaus on Sicily.

If you are looking for a property in Sicily, you will always come across the name Grüssner, Thomas Grüssner and Casa in Sicilia on the Internet.

In the meantime, Mr. Grüssner is Thomas for us. Together with his wife Maria and his children, he has built up a multilingual network. The thirty years of island know-how of the Sicilian-German couple has not only helped us, it still helps us.

Casa Pieve

We quickly realized that there are still some properties on offer in Sicily. And that the real estate prices are still manageable compared to France, Spain or Portugal.

So we contacted Mr. Grüssner, who also offered us one or the other object. As you might expect, there is no such thing as a "perfect match" in Sicily. A pity actually.

So the affordable, light-filled, lonely, at best renovated, self-sufficient, isolated, wind- and weather-protected house, in a solitary location directly by the sea was crossed off the list.

One Friday evening, we are standing on the beach in the south of Sicily, and Marc suddenly says: This is our house! Aha. Casa in Sicilia has uploaded a new video on Youtube. Casa Pieve - What is that supposed to be? - Marc immediately calls Thomas. Yes, the exposé for this house is not ready yet. Monday. Whether we can already have the coordinates?

Casa Pieve

"Then we'll go ahead and see if the location is even a possibility." Saturday early in the morning we drive to the north coast. In the middle of an olive grove stands a small cottage. So this is Casa Pieve. - Far and wide no sea in sight. But we at least want to know how far away it really is.

So we set off for Porticello, a small fishing village nearby. Marc clicks on the first restaurant at the harbor in Googlemaps and navigates us there.

When we arrive, we first look around. The door of the restaurant opens and a couple comes out. Marc and I look at each other. That's the couple from the video who are selling the house.

We address them and right, they are. Coincidence? Or falls to what is due? We first drink a coffee together and get to know each other. The next morning we can visit the house. Marc looks around, I chat first with the sellers.

Casa Pieve

Suddenly Marc says: If you still want to have a say, you should look around quickly. - That's my husband. Sometimes he recognizes an opportunity and tries to seize it. While I see the small things and he envies me for them, he sees the big ones. For me, this usually happens too fast, because I am aware that Marc is willing to take risks for his wishes. It's good that I always have the right of veto. But sometimes, like now, I let myself get infected. So no veto.

What more can I say? We quickly agree on the price and the purchase is sealed with a handshake. In March we are already sitting at the notary and become owners of this beautiful Tinyhaus.

But what Marc saw in this little house, the Casa Pieve? What makes it so special for us?

In the Middle Ages, a pieve in Italy was a rectory in the countryside, with a baptistery and a cemetery. In other words, a mini-church. And what do most churches have in common? You can see them far out in the landscape.

It is the same with our cottage.

Casa Pieve

Casa Pieve is located among olive groves. First you take in the honey-yellow tufa walls that crisscross the property. Then the lush green that dominates the landscape in autumn until early summer, when it changes to the yellow tones of Tuscany. Amidst the greenery a wide variety of plants, olive trees, palms, cacti and hundreds of species of colorful flowers.

The plot extends east-west and slopes south-west. One can look into the distance. Towards the east to the rugged cliffs of the Madonie. What Marc immediately recognized was the course of the sun.

In the morning the sun rises in front of the house and gives us a view of a sunlit olive valley from the bedroom. The first coffee is drunk in front of the house. During the day a covered entrance terrace protects us from the summer glow. In the evening we experience the sunset with a view into the valley. Life takes place outside. A place for our hammocks has also been found.
What more could you want?

In 2006 our Casa Pieve was built by the Franciscan Giacomo. He built it as a retirement home for his parents. He decorated the facade with images of saints and there is a cross under the oldest olive tree in front of the house. A house with God's blessing.

Casa Pieve
Casa Pieve

When his parents got too old for life on the land, they sold it in 2017. To a German couple, Katrin and Jens, our sellers. We feel the special energy of this Pieve every day. There is a very special peace here that makes us very happy.

And of course one senses at one point or another that it was a clergyman and not a craftsman who built this house. Is there any remorse to be heard? No, Marc has no regrets and I am simply happy.


Offspring has also appeared in the meantime...: We were only a few days in our house, when Marc finds a small dog under a large cactus bushes. Very frightened and completely verzeckt. The hunger was bigger than the fear. And soon the little one was sitting in front of our house. Or should I say her house? Because it was quickly clear that our new companion was there before us and intended to stay.

Marc's sister has a sign that says "Beware Of Dog. He will steal your heart" - Says it all, doesn't it?

Casa Pieve

It only took a few days before we were allowed to touch her and rid her of the many, many ticks. I have never seen so many ticks on a single dog. She was a real street dog and knew no rules. A little devil, but you can never be angry with her for long. That's how she got the name Luzifer, Luzi for short. Because in the house Häusgen it is custom that all animal girls get boy names.

Relatively quickly, it also became clear to us that she was staying. Who could resist these Sicilian googly eyes? So off to the vet, check-up and vaccinate. Everything is ok. And now she also has a passport, so she is officially ours. So there is no hassle at the border.

Just as quickly, we realized that our Casa Pieve is also very popular with mice. Almost every morning there was another mouse in the live trap, which we then set out in the field a few hundred meters away. But we had the feeling of being surrounded by Norway rats. All of them wandered back to us. Like at a hostel.

Vet and all our Sicilian contacts agreed: we need a cat. Cat? Well, I don't know.

Casa Pieve
Casa Pieve

But what can I say, the cat, Paule came faster than expected. And what I never suspected, I am a cat lover. Funny, but that's the way it is.

Almost 4 months we were very happy, with Luzi and Paule. But our lucky cat, it was a tricolor, had little luck. One morning Paul was simply gone. As if disappeared from the face of the earth. I hope that a car driver took her for his little daughter.

But I suspect that she simply lost the daily fight here against the hungry street dogs. It's hard to believe how such a little kitten can grow on you in such a short time. We were very sad and cried a tear or two.

Today we have Batman with us, a beautiful little black cat. However, he is actually a pussy, as timid as he is. He does his job, catches mice. Unfortunately also the beautiful colorful lizards. Only the mice eat we must still practice. Because actually he should live here self-sufficiently, when we are on tour again.

Casa Pieve
Casa Pieve

Now we are already one year in Casa Pieve. The first olive harvest was successful, the first tree is planted, another transplanted. There is also a small vegetable patch in the meantime. Our own olives and olive oil is something very special. Just now it was the turn of the tree pruning. The next step is to cut the grass with the brush cutter. I say only 11,000 square meters and still no place for a mower.

Conclusion: We have also found our happiness here and are still finding more. It has been an exciting year. We did a lot wrong and learned even more. But we will tell you about that another time.

What else do we do all day? We started another project in Palermo. And there was also a neighboring property, also an olive grove. Marc has such an idea. So it remains exciting.

PS: We almost forgot. There was something else we missed and what we now enjoy. After walking around in muted colors and camouflage for almost three years, we were and are happy to have a white t-shirt in our closet again. Sometimes it's the little things that make you happy. But such a life as an "olive farmer" is just not the worst. 

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