Thursday, 24 September 2015

Escursioni - Le cascate del fiume Lecca

Places to visit.

The waterfall in the River Lecca is a must see for any who stay in Il Fienile. It is a short way from the house but it has to be approached from below the falls. It will take you about 30 minutes to walk there.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The story of our house in Italy

The acquisition of this gem of a stone built house in Italy has come as quite a surprise. I already owned a small house that was used for storage. It wasn't good enough for anything else. I was offered an exchange of houses. The house that we were to get in replacement for ours had no roof and not much in the way of complete walls. Did we hesitate? Only for about half an hour and we decided that there was no contest. We would exchange houses and the ruin would be ours. All we needed was a  good set of builders and faith. Below is the finished result. Sweet little cottage in the Italian mountains. It is just what we envisaged and we love it.

This is what we started with.

I think that the branches of the nearby tree camouflage somewhat the lack of a roof so I've put in the second photograph so that the total lack of roof and complete walls can be seen.

We didn't even have a front door.

Or any windows.

There was a place where the mantel piece should have been:

I think that by now the picture of our ruin is becoming clear. I should imagine that you're suitably impressed by the earth and grass flooring on the ground floor. Where the beam can be seen, is where there should be a first floor. It will all come to pass.

The next photograph is of the opposite and of the ground/first floor. The blocked in window is an indication that the house was once detached but was used as a convenient wall when the people next door decided to put up their stable.

The builders arrived and started work almost immediately.

The first job was to put in the new roof. Scaffolding was put up and off they went. This photograph shows the crumbling walls to the right of the house. When the roof had collapsed the previous winter it took down some of the wall with it. A local builder was called in to make it safe and he also took many of the stones. This meant that we had to buy more stones to make up for the shortfall.

The first job was to put on a roof. We decided to have a vaulted roof as we would be able to see the wooden construction from inside the house. It gives the house an alpine feel.

The next two photographs were taken by the builder on his phone camera so please forgive the quality.

As you can see the roof may look rustic but there was a lot of reinforcement and waterproofing to be put in to make it sound and cosy.

Then they hit the first problem. The house was built on a foundation of rocks and to lay the new damp proof floor the rocks had to be removed, by hand. This took 5 builders a week. It was not a job for the feint hearted and the boys worked their socks off to get it done. They used picks and brute force to hack out the rocks and remove them before they could put in the foundations and damp proof the floor.

The next stage of the work was to put in the first floor. We decided to have beams showing downstairs,  and naively, I thought that there would be wooden floor boards upstairs as there are in UK houses. This was not to be, as there are anti seismic regulations in Italy and on top of the wooden floor a cement floor had to be put down with all sorts of bolts to make it earthquake proof. We did decide to keep the beams white downstairs though as they would have been oppressive if we had chosen to stain them brown as they are in the bedrooms.

Now that the work is complete we have a beautiful solid oak front door to welcome you in. It has a light, to illuminate the front of the house during the warm summer months. Sitting outside in the evening is a perfect way to chill out after a day spent enjoying the unspoilt Italian countryside.

When you open the door, the first thing that you see is the bright kitchen and dining area. The table sits 4 but can take up to six people. There is plenty of room around. The kitchen is fully equipped with a fridge freezer, a dishwasher, microwave and cooker. There are plenty of kitchen pots, pans and utensils to cook delicious meals.

In May 2015 we added some furniture to the left of the kitchen. I thought that it looked unloved before so this is what it now looks like. The mirror is a useful addition and it lightens up the corner of the room. 

The next thing that you see is the staircase that leads up to the first floor.

Turn again and on the other side of the room is the lounge and fireplace. The house is heated by a wood burning stove. This stove makes use of new technology as it has an electric air pump that pumps hot air around the house. No need for radiators in the bedrooms. Leave the doors open and the fire will heat the whole house. There is plenty of wood for you to use.

Below the fire is burning in the 'camino'. 

There are two, two seater sofas with lots of pillows for indulgent luxury. As you can see there is plenty of space in the living room, kitchen area. There will be a television that will receive both Italian and English channels. It will be in place next April. There is a DVD player so, if you have any DVDs then bring them along.

Now, upstairs to the bedrooms and bathroom.  The view of the bedrooms from the staircase is spectacular as you can see right up to the central beam of the new roof.

We also moved the one rear window on the back wall of the house so that it became a stair light and stopped the stairwell from being dark during the day. The window has obscure glass for privacy.

The twin bedroom can be seen through the open door at the end of the landing and it sleeps two, but we can put in another spare bed if you want to have more people to stay.

The house has two bedrooms. There is one double room with a king size bed. The other room has two twin beds.  Like all of the other rooms this is a light bright room, but the shutters can give you shade and privacy if you want to keep out the rest of the world.

The twin room is the larger of the two bedrooms and it, like the double bedroom, overlooks the front garden and the spectacular Apennine mountains beyond.

Between the two bedroom is a lovely gem of a bathroom that shares the view of the mountains. There is a good size bath with a shower over the bath too. This way you can choose which you prefer. There is plenty of hot water provided by an electric boiler. 

By next year there will be a covered outside eating and relaxing area with seating for 4 or more.

At the back of the house is a private garden where there is room to relax and catch the sun.

The finishing touches began with the addition of a few flowers at the front of the house. You can also see the edge of the garden table and chairs.

The house still needs a lot of finishing touches. We didn't have electricity until the 25th August so that delayed things a lot. I can't wait to get my hands on vases and picture frames etc to soften it a little more. I've given myself a white/ivory pallet so I'm happy. Hubby couldn't put up the curtain rails as the drill that he had wouldn't drill into stone. I want them up and now.

2015 and work is still in progress.

After the gazebo had been finished we set about sorting out the front lawn. Here's my husband putting the finishing touches to the front lawn. Should I say, what will become the front lawn. It has been seeded so should be ready shortly. Where are the firms selling turf when you need them?

Along with the lawn improvements we have also had a gazebo built at the front of the house. This is the perfect place for sitting and taking in the sunshine along with the refreshing shade. The picture is of the constructing of the gazebo and it is now finished. Photos of the completed area will be here soon.

You can place the table close to the window and let the sunshine stream through while you enjoy a meal. I couldn't wait to try out the new oven. It cooked this quiche a treat.

This house will be available for rental. so, if you would like more details and prices then please message me.

Handy information.

Places to eat
Approximately 20 minutes away there are good restaurants within a mile or so of each other.

Ponteceno, which is on the road to Bedonia.

Pane e Vino. This small restaurant is run by two sisters and is sometimes referred to as the 'Le Due Sorelle'. The food is home cooked and the restaurant is always full. Booking is advisable. Sometimes if it is full they will fit you in, but it will be in the bar area. The link below shows you the location of the restaurant and reviews. Even if you can't read the Italian, you can see that all three reviewers have given it 5 stars.

Trattoria Oppici
This family run trattoria is in Montevaca. It is about two miles further on than Pane e Vino. Bookings are really advisible especially on Sunday lunch time. You may well have to book more than a week in advance.

trattoria pizzeria moretto. We've eaten the pizza here on many an occasion. They make a massive sharing pizza, as well as individual ones. The large one is the best as it is made with potatoes in the dough which produces a light crispy base. Yumm.

Doctors and pharmacies can be found in Bardi and in Bedonia. Both are about 30 minutes away by car.

Shopping can be done in both Bardi and Bedonia.

Bardi market: Thursday morning
Bedonia market: Saturday morning
Borgo Val di Taro market : Monday morning.

Both Bardi and Bedonia have small, and I do mean small supermarkets. If you want something bigger then go to Borgo Val di Taro where there is a Conad, a Carrefour Express and an In's, which is a discount shop rather like Aldi.

Car hire is available in all major airports.

The closest airport to the house is
Parma Here is the link:
It is a small airport and, at the time of writing this, there are flights to Parma from Stanstead airport.



Milan, Malpensa.
This is about a 4 hour drive from the house, but there are flights from Cardiff.