February 28, 2008

Palazzo Journal - Day 1


Lately we spent some days in Pizzo (Calabria) and I was thinking of writing a bit about our vacation on the 'construction site'. I am not going to post every day. But I am starting today. It is an experiment and it is documenting our process. The protagonists will have initials, unless they want their names to be mentioned. So CC is my Italian husband, L is our son, N is his nonna, my mother-in-law. And Angelo is Angelo, my father-in-law, he was introduced on this blog before. I plan to link to the previous and next day later on.

Day 1, 6.2.

We traveled from Beijing via Frankfurt and Rome to Lamezia in the South of Italy. Three planes, four airports and around 22 hours of journey to spend our Chinese New Year holidays on a construction site. It is already late night when we arrive at Lamezia airport. We are the only passengers that have to pick up the luggage on the international arrival conveyor belt. A customs officer switches on the lights for us. L sleeps and CC carries him in his arms while I am loading our suitcases on a trolley. Pushing a heavy loaded trolley with one hand and pulling hand luggage with the other hand, I awkwardly cruise towards the customs officer in the grey uniform. He is the only one and he waits for his only and last customers - us.
‘Anything to declare?’, he asks in Italian.
‘Only a couple of cashmere sweaters’ starts CC.
I am petrified… I have not briefed my husband, he is unprepared…
I have to put our suitcases through x-ray and the officer stares at the monitor,
‘What about all these metal tubes?’ he asks.
‘Oh, that’, this is my turn now, it’s my suitcase, ‘that is some bathroom equipment, a bidet faucet, a siphon ... ‘
Now he wants to know the value of these things and I am saying a number just below what is allowed to bring into Germany, hoping that this is fine in Italy as well.
Slowly I reload the suitcases on the trolley again, while he is observing me. ‘Slowly, not too fast’, I think…. I can see in his face, he is wondering whether he should let this young family with a sleeping child pass through and go home as well – or should he have a look into these strange bags and have probably a lot of questions and discussions….
It took him a moment. - Then we can go.

Angelo is waiting for us. We are the last passengers coming out. N was at the hair dresser as always when her son comes home. We are happily united and pack all items in the car. And off we go. After around 20 minutes we dive through Pizzo, our newly adopted home town. But the renovation of the palazzo has just started and there is no single livable room yet. So we stay with my in-laws in Vibo Marina, another 4 km drive along the coast. Finally at home everything goes fast. We put L to bed, we unpack briefly and go to bed as well. I feel cold and tiered.

Next Day
all Journal posts

February 27, 2008

Una Pianta di Limone and Dolphins

This morning I was greeted by a pianta di limone, a little lemon tree in our garden !!! Bellissima !!! I feel overwhelmed! It is not only a sign of spring, it is a mile stone in our renovation process! We have our first inhabitant: My little lemon tree! This is so sweet of my in-laws ... Grazie Lidia, Grazie Angelo!

This little lemon tree is a special one: "Questa pianta è una qualità di limone che fa sempre fiori e frutti in continuazione. Come vedi dalla foto c'è un limone maturo altri due in fase di crescita e fiori su altri rami." - This plant will always carry fruits and flowers, like in the picture! - And I confirmed via email that my little lemon tree can be planted right there in the corner of our tiny garden.

But this was not the only surprise that Angelo had sent me over night. The other pictures showed dolphins seen from our terrace yesterday! They can be seen quiet often at that time of the year. ... Oh, Calabria sounds like paradise... (I uploaded the pic in small size, because you hardly can recognize anything.)

February 22, 2008

Pizzo: lungomare

This is too good to be true! - Pizzo's lungomare (seafront) between the Marina and the Seggiola bay is going to be developped in a gorgeous way! See the visualized project below. Before and after.

Pizzo's historical center is located on a rock, 54 meter above sea level. So far tons of earth and stones were put in front of the rock to protect it from erosion throug the sea. Later, the entire rock itself was renovated with EU's financial support some years ago.

And now the city authorities are planning to enlarge the small fisher boat harbour (darsena) at the Seggiola by letting the water in until the grotta azzura. This is right below our house - I mean, 54 meters below our house.

Pizzo's seaside now:

And Pizzo's future seaside:

I do not know when they will start the project, since part of the financing apparently still needs to be approved. We hope that our architetto Pino Pitt who is involved with this project will finally get it going.

It is too good to be true... how pittoresque will this be? This will attract so many - tourists and locals - for a walk (or jogging), from the Marina, along the seafront promenade, across the little bridge with a glimpse of the blue grotto until the Seggiola where you could climb up the hill back to the historical town center. What a fantastic project!

Photo source and copyright: Arch. Pino Pitt (email: pino.pitt@virgilio.it)

February 21, 2008

Sleepless in Beijing

The other night I could not sleep. I was awake until dawn. I was wondering through the rooms of the palazzo, the 'palazzo to do'. I was looking at the floor of a bathroom and picturing these old thick floor tiles that we recovered from another room. But what would we use on the walls? And if I come out of the shower, wouldn't it be better to have the heated towel rail next to the shower instead across the room? Or should we use the thick old floor tiles in another room? And where should we use the old terra cotta tiles? They could match with some glittery mosaic tiles from Bisazza. I was thinking and thinking instead of sleeping.

And I was thinking of what a reader wrote me the other day. She read my entire blog and said that she was first thinking that I for sure can't wait to see the house ready, but then realized that I do enjoy the whole renovation process as well. - Yes, so true. - And thinking of that (still not sleeping), I realize myself, that I might enjoy the process even more then the result. Actually I am afraid of the result!

Take the main facade. It has now that pale morbid charm. How will it look with that 731 make-up? I am afraid that I have been falling in love with a house that will soon look so different from what I knew!

And take these beautiful light blue tiles we choose for the balcony and the terrazzo. Will they be too much reflecting and deflecting from the beautiful sea view?

And what do I do when the house is done? Will I have the same empty feeling like after an examen that you have preparing for weeks and months? Well, I don't think so. With this house, we will always have tiny things to do, to change and to improve. And I am sure I will always have to post something about the beautiful countryside, inter cultural encounters or just an Italian recipe.

I am still not sleeping and thinking of what a beautiful spot on earth we found. This spot is just too beautiful to keep for ourselves. It needs to be shared. And not only with family and friends - maybe also with vacationer - or a "Gente di mare" film crew...?! My most favorite part of the house, the old garden level, the seminterrato could be available for vacationer. This will be fun to organize!

Happy sigh, good night from Beijing.

February 18, 2008

Facades in Southern Italy

Facades are the outside walls of a house. The main facade is the face of a house. It is its surface - but not superficial. Facades can be a cultural heritage, they can tell us about the period of a house's origin. Its colors and decor are often matching regional habits. A facade can create an identity for a house. And "the ability of the facade to create an identity for the patron lies in the architect's use of certain signs, symbols and materials..." (Burroughs)

I start bold with a photo of Roman palazzi facades and a short thought about the importance of a house's exterior.

Here some more facades:

White columns from the ground to the roof... ah, and a pinkish color I would have liked (sigh), seen at Piazza Navona in Rome.

Another version of coloring a facade: Keep the natural stone of the first (ground) floor or paint it white. Then use only color for the floors above. This is at the Piazza di Trevi in Rome.

Now back to Pizzo: a yellow tone with lots of white columns and lines - but still well balanced.

A house with a colour choice similar to ours. Yellow basic tone, white columns and frames, brown window frames. Again white end-to-end columns.

I think it is obvious what I want to sell... white end-to-end columns. Although we decided about the colours (eggshell white and "731", a kind of peach) for our outside walls, we now need to decide about HOW to color the main facade.

We have been discussing it with the architect briefly before our departure. He thought that it might be too much white for the ground floor. I do not think so if we paint the frames of the two side entrances in "731".

To visualize the subject I painted the facades again (only on paper) with my Chinese brushes and water colors.

This is the architects vision (if I understood right). He rather would use white only to frame the two side entrances and then use white again for the colums and frames on the level above.

In both versions the lowest grey band means that we will stick a stone plate on the wall. Apparently there has been one before. I found that out today... when I asked my husband on the phone what he thinks about my proposals that I emailed to him, the architect and Angelo. I asked if we would leave it grey or colour it in "731", and he told me about a marble stone. Actually it is THE marble (or graphite?) that I was complaining about, the one that looks like a grave stone... He said that it will be treated to have a rough surface. BTW all the window sills and door sills that look to sleek get the same workover to make it look rougher. Then, in maybe 50 years, it will look like the stone that frames the main entrance.

The facade of the seaside seems clear. Same pattern as before.

So I am here to get comments about my proposal, especially from the Italians mentioned above.

February 17, 2008

Facade Coloring

Our color has no name (I would have choosen something like "Light Bellini"). It has just a number: "731". It is not that much yellow like the colors above it, that my husband prefered and it is a bit more yellowish than the pinkish ones below and on the right, I would have prefered. It is the color that the architetto recommended. A pretty compromise. I think we couldn't go wrong with any of these eight cremy colors. And you know what? On the seaside we painted six out of the eights (decision making process) and they look different! This is because the surface on that side of the house is smoother and the light is never the same.

Click on the picture to enlarge and see the green check marks: this is our color!

And I did some facade coloring today. But just on paper. And as the scanned result did not turn out good enough I used the computer as well. It still has a bit of a dirty look, but it would take me hours to make it nicer. I hope Angelo and the architetto (who might be able to provide a better design? aiuto per favore!) understand my suggestion of how to paint the different areas of the main facade. The sea side facade is easy - same pattern like it is today.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

February 16, 2008

About Colours

I am back from Italy. And I do not know where to start. To not forget anything I wrote a little journal. It is about 33 pages long. - I could start from the beginnging with the rainy and pretty cold days in the beginning or I could do a summary about all our decisions. But for tonight it is too late, I have to recover from an Air China flight from Rome to Beijing ...

Therefore, for today, I will leave you with two pictures about colours as I have been talking a lot about how to paint the facade and I got a lot of comments from many readers. Above is our Architetto Pino Pitt looking at our house while more colour samples are going to be painted on the facade.

And below you see my husband and the architect discussing about the new eight colour samples. It is a story for itself how we came up with these eight colors. When the painter came with his colour booklet my husband was busy talking with the plumber (il hydraulico) and asked me to choose two more light pinkish tones. As I could not decide myself in three minutes, the architect helped me to go for one more pinkish tones and then choose himself five more tones. Mainly yellow based. I like yellow too, it is warm and sunny. It was funny to see, how my chances for a pink was diminishing.

So can you guess, which colors were my favorites, my husband's and the architect's? The final decision will be posted tomorrow. And it cannot be reconsidered as the architect ordered the colour the same day we made the decision (probably he knows women and their decision making process).

February 04, 2008

Bella Italia

Bella Italia, we are coming. Tomorrow I am packing, after tomorrow we are flying. It will be a long long trip for a short visit. We are going from Beijing via Frankfurt to Rome and from Rome to Lamezia. Can you believe that there is no Alitalia direct flight from the capital of China to the capital of Bella Italia? (Alitalia flies to Shanghai).

Anyway, in the following days we are getting closer to a decision for the color of the house. In the picture above (I have never seen the house from that perspective, nice! Thank you Angelo!), the two color probes on the right seems almost the same. I think we are going to decide on a lighter yellow (not a lighter pink), maybe...

Until I am posting something from Italy, you can enjoy the following pictures of beautiful houses in Bella Italia and follow the links to find more palazzi and ville. These gorgeous properties are for rent! Imagine you and your friends and family during summer time on the terrace of one of these dream homes. Salute!, Cheers!

Villa in Capri via www.CedricReversade.com (above)

Villa Bocella in Lucca, Toscany via www.Landmark-GmbH.de (above)

A villa in Toscany via www.Topvillas.de (above)

Villa Volpe in Sardinia via www.IndigoLodges.de
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