Patti Campana was happily living in her 10,000-square-foot house in northern Ohio three years ago when she came to visit her daughter in her new winter home in Island Estates. • "I walked into her front door and I immediately had a peaceful and serene feeling as I looked out over the water and the palm trees," she said. • Campana was so taken by the area, she and her then-husband bought their own house just down the street from her daughter, Jenee, and her husband, who are both stockbrokers. Her son, Marc, followed shortly thereafter.
In less than a year, an entire nuclear family with strong and deep roots on the west side of Cleveland picked up and moved 1,200 miles south, something Campana has never regretted.
Her daughter didn't end up in Island Estates by chance, either. She came on the recommendation of a family friend who had moved there. Who knows where the dominoes stop?
Campana's house doesn't just sit on a canal; it sits at the end of one of the saltwater inlets separated by fingers of sand on the 1.5-mile barrier island that lies between Clearwater and Clearwater Beach. From her house, she has a water view all the way down to the Intracoastal.
Many of the 500 houses in the affluent waterfront community are of humble 1950s construction, but almost every one has backyard access to the Gulf of Mexico. There are also about 2,000 condos on the island.
And, it's relatively inexpensive compared to other island communities in Clearwater. According to zillow.com, which tracks home values, the median home price (on Oct. 1) in Island Estates was $245,000, well below that of Clearwater Beach at $300,000 and Sand Key at $372,000.
But, Campana's house is anything but humble. Through the double front doors, you step into a large open area that contains joined yet separate kitchen and living, dining and family rooms. But who sees the rooms? Your eyes can't help but zero in on the view through the full wall of windows on the back of the house.
It looks out on a tiered stone patio, through a lanai, pergola and palm trees and out onto the water dotted with docked boats. Paradise defined.
She and her fiance, Jim Manetta, are thrilled living in the house. They found each other online after both had ended decades-long marriages.
They had so many similarities, their meeting seemed destined: she's Italian; he's Sicilian. Her family made its money in the steel mill business; he worked in the steel business in Detroit. They stayed in the same Excelsior Hotel when they visited Italy years ago before they knew each other.
Manetta is an inventor of green gadgets. In the back yard is a portable solar generator he is testing and he proudly shows off the solar panels he put on the roof to cut their electric consumption.
"We just love it here," Campana said, clinking wine glasses — filled, of course, with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo — with her husband-to-be.
Patti Ewald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727)-893-8746.