So you think you would like to live in Italy

This is our story, warts an' all. We have come this far since May 2004 and survived the bureaucracy, a freezing cold winter, a landslip and a diminishing money pot. Share our experiences, believe me the good ones far outweigh the bad and if you want to ask a question and we know the answer, we'll tell it like it is.

I found this little phrase in a Collins Italian Phrase Book published in 1963 ~ "passa ogni limite" pahs'sah ohn'yee lee'mee-tay which means: That's the giddy limit. Useful if there's anybody out there that quaint!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Heat and Dust

Thankfully summer has arrived and brought with her a gaggle of builders. Oh, to hear the unremitting banter of Serbian, Albanian, Bosnian and any other unrecognisable patois however chattery. It's all sweet, sweet music to my ears. So long as it accompanies the sounds of hammers bashing, concrete mixers sloshing and drills whining there is no better tonic for she who is waiting to move into her new home. I don't envy them working in the heat though, temperatures now between 30 degrees and 40 but even that has its benefits ~ young bare-chested men, bronzed and toned, swanning around the site. They're like a breath of fresh air and the best part is that I get to take the photographs of them for the blog. No shortage of pictures this month!

We're up to roof level and it feels good. I've been chatting with the builders about 'topping out' explaining that the custom in England is to celebrate with champagne. Now, maybe I'm being led by the nose a bit but The Brothers have told me that it's the same in Italy only the clients have to stand their builders a slap up supper. Hmmm, I was hoping to get out on a couple of bottles of prosecco and a few finger dainties.

And don’t think the activity stops with the new house. Whilst the Brothers are having ‘Sloppy Molly to Go’ delivered by the lorry load the men working on the main house are doing it by hand (fatto a mano) and the air is filled with the sound of the mixers revolving endlessly and the wheelbarrows bouncing over the temporary wooden bridges.

The thing about this stage of building is that none of it is silent and you become used to the constancy of its noise until that is, something different interrupts the monotony like the intrusive ‘parp’ of the lorries signalling the arrival of more cement and blocks or a ‘Kango’ reverberating around the house, engaged in devouring our aged walls.

Oh, and while I remember what do you make of these cool, little black boxes? (Sorry, forgot to take a picture of the whole floor laid end to end with them). They are called ‘igloos’ unsurprisingly and when they are installed they make a suspended floor to provide ventilation to the earth and the lower walls. Tubes from the igloos are vented through the external walls, concrete poured over the top, and hey presto, the floor can breathe. Now, here’s a sorry tale with a happy ending. Whilst we were in bed one night we were kept awake by the crying of a cat; it was quite a soft mew but consistent. Thinking it was our own ‘Blacky’ who was crying to get in, we got up a couple of times and called him to the door but he didn’t come. The cat was still mewing the next morning when the builders arrived and they told us they were concerned that a cat had got in under the igloos and had been concreted in the new floor. So Kango to the fore, a small hole was made in the concrete base and a little plate of tuna fish set at a short distance. To help the kitty enticing aroma reach its target, we wafted a tin tray back and forth to create a draught, all the while shouting “Here kitty, kitty”. Pathetic, I know, but you’ll do anything in a crisis. It was all worth while; after lunch when the builders returned, the tuna fish had gone and so had kitty.

And there’s more. If all the activity of the team building the new house and the team renovating the main house isn’t enough, my husband and his team are building a wood shed (somewhere to store the logs) and a wooden shed (somewhere to store my gardening gadgets which were ejected from the chicken shack cum bread oven following its demolition).

Many hands mean lots of progress but however well you think your project is planned every day starts with a flurry of questions requiring immediate answers. It’s not unusual at 8.00am to find a circle of heads bowed over the plans and drawings laid out on the kitchen table amid the coffee cups and the pencilled scribblings as ideas and variations are bandied about. Exhilarating! Beats looking out of the window wondering if they're going to turn up.

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