Saturday, 21 January 2012

"But there was nothing chiselled about it. In fact, it consisted of stones stacked one atop the other. Time had since taken care of binding and cementing them, camouflaging them with dust, earth, seeping water and saltpetre, finally transforming the rough surface into an almost natural wall." ("The Terracotta Dog" Andrea Camilleri transl. by Stephen Sartarelli)

Mid January and we are at the "house in progress".  Peter wants to climb the scaffolding to check the depth of the insulation in the roof, like some inspector from the grants department of a London borough.  He steps onto the scaffolding and even before his full weight is on it, the metal structure creaks and wobbles.  Whatever he finds up there, I'll take his word for it.
Heedless of this, on another part of the roof, Alessandro (our Michelangelo) is acting out a scene for a comedy film with intermittent fast forward (or so it seems to me at ground level).  First we see him pacing leisurely along a barren slope of the roof.  Suddenly he calls down below for some bricks.  The bricks appear on the roof beside him. 
Fast forward, Alessandro is placing the bricks wildly into a pile. 

Change of pace, he calls down to anyone within earshot: Does that look ok?  Someone calls back: No, take that yellow brick there, yeh, that one, and swop it for that bigger one in the other corner.  

Fast forward, Alessandro is juggling bricks again.  Then he stops, no more questions.  He just stands back and right there on top of the roof he leans against his brick structure (with more confidence than seems wise), hand rolls a cigarette, lights it, then blows thin strands of smoke into the the gentle breeze.  We ask a fellow worker what's going on:  Oh, Sandro has just built a chimney!  Of course, stupid question, as would be:  is it in the right place; is it the right size/ shape; will it work; will it stand the test of time?  I raise a hand up to Alessandro:  Nice chimney Alex!  He smiles, flings his cigarette butt down onto the earth below and wanders off casually to another part of the roof.  In the plans, the house has two chimneys.

The roof is near completion, and if the fine weather holds, work will soon start on the foundations of the kitchen.  This lies to the north west side of the house, it is part of the original building , but had to be demolished at the outset of restructuring as it was completely unstable.  The exterior walls of the new kitchen will not have the stone "faccia vista" of the rest of the house and will be stucco'd (as opposed to rendered and painted).  Our next big hurdle will be to decide which colour "stucco" and ...will our choice meet Paolo's (our geometra) approval?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or a blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year ... it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols”. (“The Magic Mountain” Thomas Mann)

And so the festivities are over, the sky is a clear blue and the sun warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a morning coffee.
Christmas was heralded in Corinaldo (just inland from the coast) with an impressive flag waving ceremony and a somewhat alarming fanfare of fireworks, set off in the town’s smallest square with its densest crowd of the year.  No harm done really, though one woman’s hair was singed.
Back to Corinaldo on Christmas day with our two eldest sons, who had managed to fly out for a few days; our youngest  at work in London in a 2* Michelin restaurant.  We, however, were booked into a restaurant carved into the fortress walls of this town.  An Antipasto of 5 separate dishes; primi piatti of 3 dishes including the Christmas special of gorgeous cappelletti in brodo; secondi piatti of 3 different meat dishes with contorni of vegetables and salad; dessert of fresh cream cake and pannettone, followed by a basket of fresh fruit, coffee and a glass of bubbly.  There were 3 bottles of local wine on the table and a generous “digestivo” of limoncello to complete and complement the meal which was quite excellent.  Not, perhaps, Michelin star, but then neither was the all inclusive price of 35 euros per person.  Three and a half hours later we walked into the sunshine and took a short walk around the historic town, quite deserted.
Between Christmas and New Year I went into the local hospital for three days to undergo a planned minor operation.  Is this experience different from the NHS?  Oh yes, in a myriad of minor ways, mostly to do with culture, family concern and common sense - a lot more of all three here.  But essentially it’s the same - you go in naive and nervous and come out bruised and baffled.  Feeling fine now.
New Year here is celebrated with a special meal on the eve and the inevitable fireworks at midnight.  We stepped outside to watch every little town, as far as our pivotal horizon could encompass, compete with a magnificent starry sky.  Surprisingly, the air the following morning is fresh and clear and the church bells are pealing, louder and more sonorous, it seems, this morning.
The Italian newscast tells another story of damage to property, life and limb around the country, caused by “careless” (euphemism) use of fireworks.  Essentially, much the same as “news” in England every November 6th.
Peter and I have completed our celebrations by visiting our “ruin” - now very much a “house in the making” !  Here are some photos of the new roof, minus the "coppi" roof tiles still to be laid, with perhaps a glimpse of that no.15 wood stain and the rather shiny new copper guttering.  A start has been made in grouting the stone "faccia vista".  The “Atto” has been signed, taxes paid to the commune, we are officially “established”!  We have great hopes for 2012, can, almost, hear that blare of heavenly trumpets.