LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
An American actress buys a 200-year-old Italian home for 1 euro. Now, what could go wrong?
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MY BIG ITALIAN ADVENTURE")
LORRAINE BRACCO: OK, what the hell is this? Oh.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Sorry. Sorry.
BRACCO: What happened here? No. No. What did you do? Oh, my God. I just knocked down a wall. I need a manicure. I'm an actress. We got a long way to go.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, a lot, as you heard there can go wrong, as Lorraine Bracco could tell you. Bracco's most known for her roles in "The Sopranos" and "Goodfellas." And that one 1 home in Sicily renovating it cost her many more euros. It's a journey she takes us on in her new HGTV show, "My Big Italian Adventure." And she joins us now. Welcome.
BRACCO: Hi, Lulu. How are you?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I am doing OK. What made me feel a lot better was actually seeing you do this...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Because when this story came out a few years ago, I saw it. And I daydreamed about taking advantage of it, you know, a picturesque Italian town, giving away houses to revitalize the area because its youth are leaving. But you actually went through with it. And that's crazy (laughter).
BRACCO: Yes. Like my children said to me when I told them that I wanted to do this, they said, well, it's not crazier than anything else you've ever wanted to do, Mom.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why did you want to?
BRACCO: You know, I don't know. I really can't even answer that, but I saw the pop-up on my phone. I read it. I - then I started to search. I did the Google map. I did the Google about the town, about Sicily. I must admit that I'm a big HGTV fan. So the next morning when I woke up, I said, oh, my God, this is a great idea for HGTV. Little did I know that there were 16 houses, and there were 100,000 emails of people all over the world for these homes.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, I might have been one of them. I'm not confessing to anything.
BRACCO: OK, good. Well, you could come visit. How's that? Because I did all the hard work, let me tell you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You did. First, I want to talk about this town, Sambuca. What did you know about this part of Sicily?
BRACCO: Listen. Thank God Sambuca, Sicily - isn't that where you make Sambuca? Otherwise, I would have never have made it back.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: This was your first time in Sicily. These are, you know, your roots. Your paternal grandparents were born in Sicily, right? I mean, what did they make of this famous American actress sort of rocking up in their small town?
BRACCO: There's about 5,000 people in the town. So since they, you know, didn't really know me, they were very welcoming. And it was just so sweet when I would wait at the cheese shop or go to the grocery store or the hardware store. They would be like, oh, yeah, you bought that 1-euro house.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's how they know you. So you buy this 1-euro house. And there's this extraordinary scene at the beginning where you're taken around by the mayor, of course, to see the different houses that are available. And they're wrecks.
BRACCO: Yeah, in my opinion, they were [expletive]-holes.
BRACCO: Nobody in their right mind (laughter) would have bought this.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You have a particular approach to the design of the house. You were very adamant about keeping a lot of the original elements, like the tile. I mean, where do you get that? I mean, you're an HGTV addict, but I mean, where do you get your sense of design and style and this idea of wanting to just renovate something completely?
BRACCO: Every time I've had a home - and I've had many homes in my life - everyone who's ever walked in and said, oh, it's so homey here. It's so warm. It's a house I'd like to live in. And I always found that, you know, as a huge compliment. So when I looked at the three houses and I saw this house, a couple of things hit me that I really loved. One, it was on a corner. So you had a lot of light. And I think that's very important when you buy a home - is that you have the bones that are interesting.
The second part is yes, when I went in, I saw these beautiful, tiled floors under three inches of dust and dirt. And I was like, oh, this is beautiful. And by the way, the people who built this house - God bless them - they were incredible artists. They did everything by hand. There was no sheetrock. They did everything with plaster. They plastered, you know, the walls, one, two, three, four, five times. They put all these rocks, you know, to build up the second floor. It's amazing.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'm curious - has this journey changed your identity being Italian? I mean, has it made you connect more directly to your heritage?
BRACCO: Not yet because I haven't - I can't wait to go there and spend two, three months in the house living in Sambuca. And I've not been able to do that because of COVID.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you think that people should be doing this, going off to another country, getting a house and renovating it top from bottom? I mean, I guess it's never too late for an adventure.
BRACCO: No, never too late. Never say never is another one of my things which my kids really know about me. And I say it to them, dream big. You never know. Don't cut yourself out short. Think big. Dream big. You don't know what's out there.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Words to live by. Lorraine Bracco's new show is on HGTV. It's called "My Big Italian Adventure." Thank you very much.
BRACCO: Oh, you're sweet, Lulu. Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
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