Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Elisa Bramante's Story

None of us are relentlessly cheerful. We all have our down moments when we think that things are going badly, our life is shit, and our worst nightmare is just around the corner. However, for most of us, this is just a bad patch, because life isn't that bad, and it can even be rather terrific. Although one should never lose sight of the ephemeral nature of money and success, and that we are one serious car accident away from dire straits, hopefully we'll struggle through with but a few knocks and bruises.

For some however, the knocks turn into beatings with a sledgehammer. My attention was drawn to an English lady in Umbria, Italy who wished to retire to Italy, did her homework, took her time, and placed her faith in professionals to provide reliable reports on potential property.

Elisa Bramante is now living in poverty because of:
the dishonesty & negligence of those who have been involved with my house in Umbria, some of whom are working illegally in Italy, all of whom are related directly or indirectly with the agency which sold me the house. Their negligence has resulted in my poverty & a daily struggle to stay alive.
She has a website through which she aims to bring the reality of what has happened to her to the world so that others may not go through what she is suffering. It makes very angry reading. She has been defrauded on all sides - by the agency, the lawyers, the Law, and the workmen.

These malpractices should be exposed, the slowness of Italian law should be exposed because it enables cowboys to practice with impunity. If it takes so long to sue someone that they're probably dead before the case goes to court, who has the patience or money to go through with it? The result is that these guys think they are untouchable and can defraud without punishment.

Read her site if you have a strong stomach. It's not for the faint-hearted, but if you are thinking of moving to Italy it is a MUST READ. Elisa has been reduced to a life of total misery:
I have spent 2 months of each of the last 3 winters in the cold, without heating, also I've lived the last year on the charity of others. I've not left my house for the last year, other than to go to our local town & can only eat, when others are kind enough to buy or give me food. I know what hunger is, I live with it every day now !!!!
I had done enough homework to know that there would be many difficulties in starting a new life in Italy, but one doesn't expect that the level of dishonesty would be such, that I would cry my eyes out every day, suffer hunger & pain, turn from being a happy person, to one living in misery, thinking only of death as a way out of my suffering, or that I would see every penny that I have earned spent on paying for the damage which they have caused, leaving me to live in poverty.
A guy I know said that when he thinks things are getting really bad, he thinks about how life was in the trenches, and that helps him put things in perspective. It's unlikely that we can even imagine how ghastly it was for those poor guys in the trenches. Elisa's situation is one that we can all too clearly imagine however.

Please help publicise Elisa's website. Perhaps the publicity could help achieve a Petite Anglaise-type fairytale ending. Or at least warmth and nourishment!


  1. Nancy Mitford wrote a book 40 years ago about her trials and tribulations of setting up house in France. However much much less dramitically unhappy. We must all give a max of publicité to the Umbria victim. Without a home, warmth and food in the nest - you just fade away like an emtying bath.

  2. I'm an occasional visitor to your blog and enjoy much of what I find, but I'm not sure I understand your support for Elisa Bramante.
    I do not wish to be hard-hearted, but a few things concern me about her incredibly badly-written pages.
    I assume she is using her real name rather than an alias, since a quick search on google found her support for Boris Johnson's mayoral bid and a message on a peurile online petition about David Beckham.
    In any case telling a story does not make it true. Everyone is a villain or corrupt except Elisa. If what she writes is true then clearly this is not someone who has done her homework and been ripped off. Rather it is someone who has an unerring ability to find charlatans and give them her trust and money. Her way of dealing with the people to whom she has entrusted work important or trivial is the same - threats.
    She also gets rather coy about the important things like dates and times and specific names. If I were ripped off like this I would realise that the best way to bring attention to the matter was to drag the architect's name, the agent's name, the builder's name and all the rest through as much mud as could find.
    I'm not saying she doesn't have a legitimate gripe, but if she has she's doing a very poor job of getting her point across.

  3. Thank you for your comments, eurorocket - you're not the 'rocket' who comments on Charles Bremner's Times France blog by any chance are you?

    What you say is very fair but I'll just say that dealing with housing repairs when you are an elderly lady in your own country is difficult enough. Builders consider you fair game to be ripped off, but can you imagine how much harder it is to deal with in a foreign language with foreign work practices? Maybe she was too naive, some would say foolhardy perhaps. Even so, it seems that she was identified as easy pickings for all the local predators.

    She says she will give names by email.

    ng that is very poetic!

  4. The dynamic between householder and tradesman can be a very tricky one, even when one has some technical background. It's often not possible for either party to anticpate all the difficulties that lie in wait, that will then inevitably push up the cost, requiring delicate renegotiation.

    The advice to get several quotations is sound, not just to avoid being overcharged, but to talk to prospective tradesmen, and see how they respond to one's detailed questions. Are they realistic and candid, or are they shifty and evasive ?

    I often eliminate prospectives at that first hurdle if I'm not satisfied by the personal chemistry.

  5. Sarah
    I have not commented on Charles Bremner's blog, so not I am not that rocket - in fact I am eurorrocket as a result of an early spelling mistake!
    You make an assumption that Elisa is an elderly woman, yet she gives no clue as to her age.
    As for naive, well that's putting it mildly and then she headlines her pages as a "story of the negligence of others".
    You say "...it seems that she was identified as easy pickings for all the local predators", but I can't accept that unless I believe what she says and frankly I don't see why anyone would.
    Anyway, I had not intended to start a fight, just to point out that it's an incredibly one-sided, emotional tirade, not a report on someone's plight, however much Elisa might want us to think it is.

  6. eurorrocket, i agree with you. there is something quite shady about a woman in poverty, living on apples, pasta, and...internet. she can't eat, but can afford to keep up an internet connection?

    as for the elderly thing, she did mention that she was retired, but that doesn't mean "very old." i can't imagine a "frail old lady" leaving home for such an adventure anyway.

    i've lived in italy (naples area at that!) for almost 5 years and I KNOW that people want to take advantage of others in almost any given opportunity, but this all sounds too weird to me. it's just an instinct.

    i hope i'm right.


Comments are bienvenue.