Friday 28 July 2023

We make progress...

 After months of frustrating inactivity on the building front -  when I've had to satisfy myself with excavating the ruins alongside the building-proper, as a means of getting at least something done - we've suddenly had a flurry of activity. Mostly by dint of having discovered a wonderful website, which matches people looking for work with others who have work to be done, et voila!

Part of the ruined stable - to form the base for rose pergolas

The Hidden Room, cleaned-up and awaiting judicious introduction of walls
and floors, to become pantry and cantina

The second room excavated in the ruin - I've no idea what it was, but it's going to be
part of a courtyard garden

Anyway, as a result, we've now had all of the cross-beams (travicelli) replaced that were weak or broken or missing - there were sixty of them, in the end, where we'd calculated there might have been fifteen or so - and six new walls built within the house; all of the roof has been 'systemar-ied' (tidied up), which means replacing any and all of the broken tiles, and re-positioning any which have been moved out of place over time by the wind, and the underside of the roof has been insulated throughout.

The end of the house, as seen from the stable ruin

New wall to the left, which now divides the library to-be from a guestroom
(before the roof insulation was done)

looking from the stairwell, out through the inner hallway (newly-created)
into the ruined wing

insulated ceiling (bedroom, to-be)

The new windows have been ordered, for delivery some time in September. The wood for all of the new floorboards has been ordered, and we'll sort out delivery next week (for either before or after August shutdown) and the beams which will hold up the rear terrace were delivered a few days ago, and are now all neatly stacked currently in the salone. 

Luca, our godsend muratore from Gallicano is working today replacing the lintels above the top-floor guestroom window and above the library doorway, and he has just messaged to say that he can get started on Monday on repairing the more dangerous of the doorways in the ruined wing; it will be good to get started in that section. Once he's done that first doorway, he can move to repair the other doorway, which will eventually become the main entrance to the house, and he can re-point the existing stonework in readiness to be built upon further, once we have the relevant permesso. 

The only delays we've encountered have been where there's been any bureaucratic element, and we haven't just been pressing ahead on the basis of sound common-sense. It took the geometra months more than seemed necessary to file our application to rebuild the ruined wing of the building, although we were much cheered when it almost immediately got the thumbs up from the Comune (although only after they had insisted on our design for the new roof to be changed, in a way which we can live with but for which the logic is frankly non-existent); then it turned out that this was only the approval from the planning dept, and we haven't yet had the response of the listed buildings brigade, who have now demanded a geological survey that the building won't slide sideways into the nearby stream, in consequence of the weight of a new roof being installed (despite the fact that it was roofed for hundreds of years previously, until the roof was taken off for tax reasons by a previous owner, and the roof we propose to put there weighs little more than an egg-box). 

In the same kind of vein, we still have no electricity supply, even after the request for connection was made way back in April. The first request was inexplicably cancelled when we said we wanted the meter to be placed somewhere other than the electricity company had in mind. A second request was then made, but that too was cancelled (by the supplier) for no reason anybody can understand, and we're now on our third request, and still trying to find out what the hell is going on. 

The request to be attached to the main drains was acted upon by the water company much more expeditiously, although to the effect that today they have said that, contrary to what they'd previously said, there isn't actually a main drain anywhere nearby that we can be attached to...and so we may be looking at having a septic tank instead (which brings all sorts of issues all its own). We're on a flying visit to London today, and the drainage system in Pieve is going to have to wait for any serious attention until we're back in Italy again next week.

A moment of madness

In a moment of madness - or economy - I bought from a lady in Rome an entire bathroom, including ball-and-claw footed bathtub and heated copper rails, and the whole nine yards, and it arrived in the back of a truck, last week, neatly wrapped up in all its constituent parts. Ditto, a rather splendid wood-stove with integrated oven, which is due to be delivered sometime before the end of next week.

Home and hearth

And, meanwhile, on the hillside on the other side of the village, I've been getting stuck into clearing terraces, and contemplating the options for new planting when it comes time this autumn to start to transfer plants from the garden in Pisa. In the past ten days or so, it's been far too hot to do any hard-labour at the time of day I can get over to Pieve, so I content myself instead with picking fruit from the various fruit trees which are dotted about on the terraces among the olive trees (plums, apples, pears, peaches, cacchi, and a million blackberry bushes). 

Plum trees (six different varieties, at last count)

Olive terrace

more olive terraces (there are about forty of them, I fear...)

And, while we remind ourselves in London what a sweater is, Madam is in San Giuliano Terme, being resplendent.

Tonight's dinner:

Coddled Eggs, with mushroom & prosciutto

Spaghetti, with smothered onions

Strawberries and Cream (July, in England. No-brainer)

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