A telephone call this lunchtime reminded me that the weather is un-seasonally warm. I have been basking in temperatures reaching the high twenties to low thirties and it got me thinking back to the time when we first ‘moved into the house’
Well moving in is probably an over exaggeration, there was a part of the house that had been partly restored some thirty years previously, but never finished and never lived in. With the enthusiasm of a new life we set about disposing of the rubbish, cleaning, and painting. It snowed that March and was still bitterly cold, un-seasonally cold! There was a rudimentary bathroom, I went and bought sanitary-ware from the DIY store and plumbed it in, found an old drain pipe and connected it all up, with no idea of where it all went! There was a functioning electricity meter in the upper uninhabitable part of the house, so we ran cables down to our new ‘luxury pad’ stringing them round the walls like Christmas lights without the lights, a basic electricity supply, one power point in each room.
For heating and cooking there was an old wood burning stove found in an outhouse, cleaned up and hastily re-erected with a flue pipe leading into a chimney, that was our only means heating and cooking, the kitchen was a salvaged porcelain sink placed on an old dressing table which we cut the legs off. For hot water, in keeping with our ecological ethos we bought a solar panel and kilometres of alkathene pipe. We mounted the panel on the middle terrace above the collapsing garden wall and then moved some furniture in. We had a living room, bedroom, shower-room and alcove with a guest bed, it was home, it was bliss!
The first morning we awoke with the dawn at six thirty am to see from our bed mist in the valley below and blue cloudless skies above, truly breath-taking. We were happy, managed to entertain friends, cooking on the wood stove and remarking on our lives ‘camping with our own furniture!’, but there was one problem. It soon became overcast and the solar panel did not work. It got to the stage of boiling kettles both to wash plates and bodies, it was two weeks without sunshine, in the end we went to the terme San Casciano!
Today all is different, we have planted nearly 1000 plants, the garden is really taking shape, fruit trees showing signs of fruit, hedges screen the various terraces and divide the various spaces, lavender plants in profusion are bursting into new leaf, Rosemary is in full bloom the purple and violets and blues covering the bankings, the Irises planted three years ago are for the first time in bud, and Harald’s figs are just forming. The house has six glorious individual apartments, all with lavish bathrooms, underfloor heating, and WiFi, the dining room created out of the former cow stalls is a large and elegant space, all is earthquake proofed, including the new annexe which has a room specifically for our biomass boiler and large hot water tank (1,500 litres) which today reached 80º only fuelled by the six vacuum sealed solar panels on the roof. We have new pipes for the mains water, large tanks for the spring water used for the garden and flushing lavatories, and finally a three phase electricity supply, yes Bellaugello has come a long way….