The Story Behind Jenny and Dave Marrs' Italian Villa Renovation

Dave and Jenny are heading to Italy to tackle their first-ever renovation abroad in Fixer to Fabulous: Italiano. We have all the details on the 200-year-old home and how the design duo landed the incredible overseas project.

Photo by: Clay McLachlan

Clay McLachlan

From Bentonville, Arkansas, to the Tuscany countryside, Dave and Jenny Marrs are stepping outside their comfort zone on their new spinoff series, Fixer to Fabulous: Italiano, where their longtime friends Pierre and Rebecca asked them to bring their renovation expertise to Italy to transform the villa they purchased.

How It All Happened

How exactly, you might ask, did the Fixer to Fabulous hosts end up in a foreign country — where they don’t speak the language — renovating a centuries-old villa? Let’s start with a little backstory. The Marrs' close friends Pierre and Rebecca had a thriving wine-touring company in Florence before 2020, but the pandemic decimated their livelihood, and their thriving business took a huge hit.

Like many successful entrepreneurs, they knew they had to diversify. They opened a cheese and wine shop in downtown Florence and bought the villa, Podere Camposasso, with the intention of aging cheese on the grounds, offering tastings and providing beautiful lodgings for tourists. “We hope people will be able to stay at Camposasso one day to taste cheese and wine and experience this magnificent part of Tuscany,” said Rebecca.

Pierre and Rebecca loved what the Marrs did with their Welcome Inn in Rogers, Arkansas, and wanted them to bring their design and inn renovation know-how to the Italian countryside. “I love that Rebecca and Pierre have turned to us to help them with this whole project," said Dave. "We’ve had experience with taking an old property and creating something we can bring guests into and they can enjoy.”

There’s one more important detail: Not only will the Marrs be working in a foreign country on the oldest home they’ve ever renovated by far, but they have to complete the project in an eight-month time frame so Pierre can begin aging cheese. (Since sheep are only milked from January to July — who knew? — Pierre needs an aging cellar ready by the end of the milking season, or he’ll need to wait an entire year to begin his business.) And, the stakes get even higher: Rebecca and Pierre put their entire life savings into this home and its renovation. They purchased the villa for around €800,000, and they've given Jenny and Dave a renovation budget of €300,000.

Dave and Jenny are determined to transform the villa and turn its basement into an aging cellar — where Pierre can control the humidity, temperature and ventilation — all in time to help their friends.

For the Love of Italy

We’d be remiss to not share how deep the Marrs’ love affair with Italy and their friends goes. In Jenny’s own words, “Many years ago, there were two kids who loved adventuring together. Early in their marriage, they stepped off an airplane and onto magical soil where they fell in love with a foreign yet somehow familiar land. Their souls exhaled. They made new friends who would remain in their lives in unbelievable ways for the next seventeen years.”

The History of the Villa

The villa physically embodies its locale. Named Podere Camposasso, which means “the rocky field,” the exterior is constructed with the sandstone rocks found in the surrounding fields, and the bricks are made from the clay of a nearby valley.

Photo by: Clay McLachlan

Clay McLachlan

Italy is known for its timeless architecture and rich history. Although an extensive history of the villa is unknown, records show that over the last 100 years it was a sharecropping home for a monastery. Families lived in the home, cared for the animals and worked the land. They kept 50 percent of the share and gave 50 percent to the monastery.

It’s important to everyone involved in the Marrs' project to keep the charm, essence and history of the home intact, while also making the villa a place for modern families to enjoy everything Tuscany has to offer. Additionally, Rebecca and Pierre strive to use local products and local artisans in the renovation so they can continue the story started more than 200 years ago.

Watch the Restoration

Ready to see the entire transformation? Catch new episodes of Fixer to Fabulous: Italiano on Tuesday nights at 8|7c, and stream it the same day and time on Max. Find more series content on HGTV.com and via @HGTV and #FixerToFabulousItaliano onFacebook, X, Instagram, TikTok and Threads. Connect with Jenny and Dave on Instagram at @jennymarrs and @dave.marrs.

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