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People and Places

Couple Of The Month - Joseph and Marilena LoPresti

Joseph LoPresti grew up in Belmont Massachusetts a suburb of Boston near Cambridge and Harvard University in what he describes as a typical Italian American New England Family. Joseph's grandparents where from Sicily and immigrated to America around 1900. Joseph's father was a School Superintendent in nearby Sudbury Massachusetts and a former college professor at Boston College. His only brother Stephen who is 4 years younger works in Real Estate development in San Francisco.

"I have some great childhood memories of when we enjoyed summers
on Cape Cod
" Joseph recalls.

Joseph first came to Italy on a brief 10 day high school tour. After landing at Venice Marco Polo Airport in April 1972 and in spite of the jet lag, the group explored the canals of Venice, then after a few hours they travelled onto Rome which was a pretty exhausting schedule for one day, especially following the transatlantic and Venice-Rome flights.

A few years later and something he could never had envisaged, Joseph was back in Rome to study at Loyola University's Study Abroad Programme which was held in collaboration with his home Jesuit University, the University of Santa Clara California where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in International Commerce back in 1979.

"Rome was not love at first site. It was everything New England was not." says Joseph.

"Only after living and studying in Rome did I acquire a taste for it! Now 40 years later Rome and Italy feels more like home to me than Boston ever did." says Joseph. He was aware of the atmosphere being so much more humane, and real. He enjoyed the freedom of expression that he saw in the Italian people and even after many attempts to return to America within a short space of time, the pull to return to Italy won through. "There are historic sites everywhere you turn, good food and plenty of eye candy everywhere. Never a dull moment in Rome and Italy in general."


Marilena and her sister Monica grew up in Torino, Italy, where her father worked for Fiat Motors. She later moved to Formia which is a city in the province of Latina, on the Mediterranean coast of Lazio where she studied hotel administration, and English during her high school days in Formia. It was in 1986 that Joseph first met Marilena through her parents who had called into the Real Estate agency Joseph was working at in Latina near Rome.

"It was my parents that actually introduced Joseph to me!" Marilena smiles.

The first two years of the relationship were on and off but then in 1991, Joseph and Marlena were married. They started their married lives briefly living in Miami Florida and being self employed. Marilena was disappointed with Miami mostly because of the lack of opportunity to practice her English in the largely Spanish speaking city.

Within 9 months they returned to Latina and opened Immobiliare San Marco which was a successful venture in a growing (at the time) city. With Marilena's background in hotel management, she was able to use the experience and become a valuable working partner to Joseph. This very busy lady was to later spend another 7 years in Orlando Florida where she worked as a store manger at Jones of New York, one of the large American clothing shops and Joseph continued his work as a time share consultant and real estate agent.


It was following the attacks on September 11th, 2001 that Joseph and Marilena both decided that it was time ...again... for another adventure. Their research led them to focus on Northern Italy which offered better work opportunities. The idea was to return to create a new Real Estate business and having looked at Verona...Como...Milan, no matter how beautiful, the prospects of a cold and dreary winter did not inspire. 

Even though the Italian Riviera sounded appealing there was always the worry of not knowing anyone. The trail took them to Alassio, Diano Marina but the boxes were not getting ticked. And then through another search they found an agency for sale in Ventimiglia. At 45 years old Joseph Immobiliare was born and Joseph started another chapter in his Italian real estate career with Marilena by his side.

Marilena had at first been hesitant to leave Florida and the comfortable home and lifestyle behind but within a few years they had built up a successful business, saved up enough money to by a comfortable home, travel fairly extensively and have financial security. What the couple valued the most were the friendships built from the many clients that they had helped.

Joseph believes the reason for their success was simple, they listened to the needs of their clients and genuinely tried to help them.

"We might have lost a few sales by being 'too honest' but in the long run being upfront with your clients in the only way to be successful."

Their golden rule and mantra... "do unto others as you wish they do unto you and Integrity and transparency above all." he adds. They believe that a Real Estate agent is helping people to make probably one of the biggest decisions of their lives! 

Very quickly and feeling somewhat surprised, they felt very comfortable in Ventimiglia and happy to call it 'home'. Their experience in Latina was of paramount importance and the language was the same, the way of doing business was similar. The agency in Ventimiglia ran from 2002 until 2015 when they returned once more to the US.

Joseph and Marilena are on their way back to Italia...

"In America we always felt and still feel detached, as in Italy we both feel attached" reflects Joseph. "Marilena enjoys cooking and loves being back where she can enjoy high quality food products at fair prices and there is also a different deeper sense of commitment to friends and family that just is not found in Anglo countries." Joseph adds.

Who knows what the future holds for Joseph and Marilena? Another Real Estate International in Bordighera? Watch this space! One thing is certain they are both very happy to be returning to Italy after their brief sabbatical leave in Florida.


Being our first 'Couple of the Month', we asked Marilena and Joseph to answer 6 questions that they had to agree on and this is how they replied...

1) What makes you both smile?
Winning or accomplishing something makes us both smile. Reaching our goals.

2) What or who inspires you? (You can have different people)
An inspiration to us would be people like Pope Francis or unselfish people that share with others. We are particularly inspired by well off humble persons who have a social conscience or people that have risen above hardships to do good to themselves and others.

3) Do you both believe in gut instincts?
Yes we both believe in gut instincts and "vibes"  First impressions are often (not always) the right ones!

4) Your three essential things if you were both stuck on a desert island would be what? (That's 3 things you have to agree on)
On a desert Island we would need a fishing rod or way to procure food, water, and a Smart phone with roaming WIFI satellite to get help !!!!! 

5) If you are planning a day/night out, what do you enjoy doing the most together?
Day out over a night out ....A day swimming and walking at an unspoiled semi deserted beach alone or exploring a new foreign city together or with friends. Our night time pleasure are simple eating out or in with friends... we are not night club, disco or casino people at all!

6) A dish that you both really love.
We both like stuffed New England lobster but are very happy with most Italian dishes like risotto alla pescatore, we like also love Mexican, Cuban, Mid-Eastern and Indian cuisine.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017    Section: People and Places
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