Wednesday, February 04, 2004


The work on the garage door is coming along nicely. Of course this project has involved the use of jackhammers…even from around the corner, we can always tell when Gioberto has arrived! Although we initiated this project before we left for the states in December, Wendy was the one to sign the actual contract, and when we got back to Italy in January, we were shocked to hear how much it was going to cost! For me, the price was about twice what I had expected it to be, but now, seeing the amount of work involved, we’re beginning to understand why it’s so expensive!

Gioberto and one of the other guys have worked many days for many hours to chip away at our three feet thick walls. I took some pictures…the guys always laugh at me when I’m recording each step for posterity, saying “Prima, prima”…”before, before.” They pointed out the wooden beam that still remains in the wall…a remnant of a time when there was a much smaller door, a time when this room was just used as a cantina for storage. Later, Gioberto pointed out the place where an iron ring used to be mounted in the brick…a ring used to tie up horses, he said.

Previously we had asked how old our house is, and today Gioberto said he thought at least three hundred years old! We were shocked! Apparently I have gotten a little closer to my dream house than I realized!

Tomorrow we will meet with Mauro to go over the things that remain to be done. The bathroom will be renovated in the spring. The small…no, tiny shower stall will be enlarged. This means that the bidet will have to go, and the small window that’s in there now will only be used for a vent. Mauro wants to change the way the bathroom door opens, which would involve moving the sink, and we don’t think it’s worth the expense.

The lamp pole in the backyard will be replaced with a different one, closer to the house. I’m not exactly sure what Mauro has in mind for that yet. The thing I’m most anxious for with the backyard is spring, so I can start to work in the garden!!! I hope to find out when the commune will begin their work in the park behind us. Dead trees will be removed, and maybe with the thinning, I just might be able to find a sunny spot for a tomato plant or two! It’s hard to believe that our garden actually faces south because it so shady back there…a fact that I’m sure will be most appreciated in the dog days of summer!

Oh, going through my pictures, I just remembered another thing. Mauro has two additional projects just up the street from us. While on our way to the recycle bins the other day, we were able to take a peek inside one of the buildings while Gioberto was there.

This building looks even older that ours…the ceiling has exposed beams, and the fireplace is big enough for me to stand in! There’s a cellar BELOW the cellar, carved out of venanzite, the volcanic rock upon which this town is built. There was some sort of wine-making operation here…I don’t know if it was 30 years ago or 300 hundred years ago.

Mauro told us that he got funds from the Umbrian government to renovate this building, and I think Gioberto said it will eventually be an apartment. From the looks of this place, no one has lived here or used this space for quite some time. The room that is not being renovated yet is full of junk…old doors and windows, pieces of wood, and a barrel, about three feet high. Art and I both commented on the barrel, and Gioberto promised to ask if we could have it.

Later the next day, the doorbell rang, and there was Gioberto with the barrel. He gave us detailed instructions on how to clean it…scrub it with a brush, but not too hard, because it might “explode”…it only has two of the original four metal bands…are those called staves? Anyway, he said we should scrub off the dirt, use just a little water to remove the rest of the dirt, the rub oil into it to finish it. He also told us to take it to the iron maker for new metal bands, and brought us a larger metal band to use for that purpose…I guess the larger band is old too. Art took it outside today to begin the cleaning process, and once that’s finished, we’ll take it to the same guy who built our stairs and banister. Not sure where we’ll put it, but it will definitely find a home somewhere in the house!