Trees that a week ago were still laden with snow are now abundant with pink and white blossom. The season of the snow plough is ended - bring on the diggers! Well, one digger actually, owned and operated by Stefano - a modest fellow, but so sought after for his skills that we (we are assured by Paolo) are very fortunate to have him working on our house. Fortunate indeed! Stefano and his little digger can move heaven and earth in a six hour shift and, if the mountain won't come to Stefano, god help the mountain!
Earth has been removed inside and outside of the house to depths where you can feel (nay, see) the heat rise from the earth's core.
As we approach from the roadside the house is almost invisible behind mounds of displaced earth. The grounds around the house look like an alien breed of giant moles has invaded, whilst the house itself rises like a little jewel in the midst of all this activity. The whole team is there. While Stefano digs and twirls, others scoop and "bob" in this carefully choreographed dervish dance. Paolo is measuring depths, grinning and growling alternately, but mostly growling: deeper, deeper!
Our dogs sit patiently in the open doorway, watching and wondering: Surely with this much digging someone will come up with a bone or two soon! If any treasures are uncovered neither we nor the dogs get to know.
This is not all. Around the walls even deeper trenches have been dug so that cages can be fitted into which concrete will be poured to secure the foundations of the old walls. The floor levels have been grazed to the required depths. The house itself will have 3 levels as it cascades down the hillside, and ceiling heights will be... anyone's guess. The area for the kitchen has been gauged, levelled and concreted. All is ready for the "igloos" to be put in place. Igloos are igloos. They sit on the concrete under the floor and are there for ventilation. In case you're wondering, they're made of plastic!
For the first time we can walk freely around the ground floor. Now we have a true sense of the dimensions of the rooms. This is not a big house - where will we put all our stuff in storage? Stuff that worry, where will we put anything at all?
The whole of the first floor ceiling has been demolished and until it is reconstructed, we look up from ground level to the top floor roof beams - cathedral-like. We had better make the most of this illusion, the new ceiling, i.e. the whole of the first floor goes in next week.