PROPERTY / If you could live anywhere: Cristina Odone, Editor of 'The Catholic Herald': Rents a one-bedroom flat in West London

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LOCATION: My dream home has been in my family for generations. It's on the outskirts of a small village called Gamalero in northern Italy, and the closest city is Turin. Unfortunately, the house is only perfect in my dreams. In reality it has been allowed to subside: it has roof tiles missing and it has a leaking cellar and attic.

ESSENTIAL LOCAL AMENITIES: In the best of all possible worlds, a road that led to Rome and one that led to the ski slopes.

CHARACTER OF THE BUILDING: A very imposing house of three storeys (not counting the rat-infested cellar).

CONSTRUCTION: Built of brick at the turn of the century. Grey stucco relief on the front lightens up an otherwise serious block.

HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIONS: My great grandfather gave the house to his wife when they got married: I think it sweetened the bitter pill that he had very little hair and about two teeth] Later, my eccentric great uncle lived in it by himself for 30 years. First he lived on all floors, then on two, then on the ground floor. Finally he lived in the kitchen, leaving the rest of the house to rats, dust and debris.


BATHROOMS: I would have one huge bathroom with a sunken bath for me. Guests would have to squabble over the other two.

RECEPTION ROOMS: Two. One is a large room with a fireplace and windows all around. I'd decorate in pinks and greys and a warmer colour like terracotta. Right now, there are two tables in the dining room - I would want everybody clustered around one table in the centre.

ESSENTIAL KITCHEN FEATURES: A huge fireplace so I could roast chestnuts and peppers. A large window so I could keep my eye on the outside world while chopping things at a big wooden table.

DECORATIVE STYLE: All the ceilings have frescos so I would paint the walls white and choose simple furnishings so as not to detract from them. I'd keep the existing tiled floors, but I would steer clear of the ancestral portraits - all the women have moustaches and the men lack hair.

LUXURIES: Most important would be a stereo system, a food processor and a swimming pool.

ANY SPECIAL OUTBUILDINGS: The farm cottage would be transformed into a guest house - for those who are not close friends or not that nice.

VIEW: Vineyards, and the Alps in the distance.

SIZE OF GARDEN: Much smaller than it used to be because we had to sell some land. In my dreams it would just roll on and on. I would have at least three hunky gardeners to keep it in order. I like Italian-stylegardens which are a happy medium between the rigid French and the bucolic English styles.

NEIGHBOURS: I wouldn't have any for miles and miles.

MOTTO OVER THE DOOR: Repent all ye who enter here.

WHAT IT WOULD COST: According to Keith Sneddon, Chief Executive of Headland Overseas, a house in Gamalero is the Turin equivalent of a house in the Cotswolds. So even in a near derelict state, such a house would probably cost pounds 75,000. Cristina would need pounds 20,000 for the swimming pool and garden, and between pounds 75,000 and pounds 100,000 for the total refurbishment of the house and farm cottage.

(Photograph omitted)