Sunday, 27 January 2013

"How eerie it had looked in that first morning light, like a shipwreck that had risen silently to the surface." ("The Crossing" Elly Griffiths)

La Pensilina Fotovoltaica

This is a wondrously strange wooden structure.  Covering 12 x 7 meters of land and standing 3.80 m. at its tallest.  We had thought, in the planning, that it would dominate the garden, obscure the view south eastwards towards the hill fort town of Piticchio, dwarf the principal house and incite the wrath of the locals with its discordant aesthetics. Of course, we also thought that it would harness the sun's energy to provide an ecologically (and financially) efficient means of producing electricity.  The latter has yet to be proven (the financial benefits will take years to realise), but the former have all proven to be unfounded ... so far.

There is a concrete base on which sits a framework of massive fir beams, which, whilst admittedly big, has blended into the landscape with (dare I say) an aesthetic of its own. It is as if it has been absorbed by the landscape in the same way as it in turn will absorb the sunlight.

Inside the house the piping for the underfloor heating has been intricately laid throughout, all 7 kilometers of it.  The plumbers brought in a mobile boiler (have you heard of such a thing? I hadn't) to test the system, and it is working.  Just as well really, as the whole floor has already been cemented over.  And this is no ordinary screed, it contains metal filings designed to conduct  heat more effectively.  This too will have to be proven, although how one judges whether they make any difference is as much of a mystery to me as the whole cat's cradle of the photovoltaic system!  But, the fact remains that the house, without doors and windows, is heating up very nicely thank you.  Long may it continue.

The weatherman: impressive, indubitable, in his air force uniform, assures us that we will have snow again within the next two days.  Not so much, I hope, as to delay the arrival of the piastrellisti (tilers) to lay the floor tiles.  After that, the underfloor heating had better work, or we're all back to the drawing board, or the ice age.

Other great strides have been made.  The pergola has been assembled, an oaken structure, this time to shade from the sun.  Again, not as straightforward as one might think.  The base follows the old stable floor plan and is not a perfect rectangle.  Paolo mutters about how these old houses are all "squadrate" - out of kilter.  And then there is the problem of where to place the vertical beams so as to minimise the obstruction of the view.  It only takes half a day, five grown men and teatime looming to help solve everything.  I think they did rather well.  The next day the structure was completed.

La Pergola

The Main Pergola Cross-beam
Strides too on the stairs front.  Alessandro tiled the whole staircase in a day by himself. Paolo and I took over 2 hours (effectively the best part of a morning) just deciding how to arrange the tiles on the two (yes, two) steps leading from the ingresso (hallway) to the soggiorno (living room).  I think we did rather well. That afternoon the tiles were in place and grouted.

Stairs from below

 Stairs from above

Steps from hall to living-room

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