March 30, 2008

Doors, doors, doors

These are some doors we like. We have to do one main entrance door and two smaller doors on each side of the main entrance. All doors are part of the facade facing the piazza. Beside choosing the right design, I was wondering: should the three doors be in the same style:
1) simple yet elegant, like the two left doors in the pic
2) more elaborated, like the two right doors in the pic
or maybe show a bit of contrast
3) main entrance elaborated and the smaller doors simple?

My favorite is alternative 3): prominent main entrance while the two side doors, both in the same style, can be more simple. Imagine, each door has its own street number! - My husband however, thinks all three doors should look the same. Last but not least because the house is one entity.

Any suggestions?

March 26, 2008

Palazzo Journal - Day 3

Day 3, Friday 8.2.

This morning I am having breakfast with my winter coat on. Angelo always says: “copriti!” – cover you! – So that’s what I did. I feel strange but warmer. However, my mother-in-law is down with an influenza.

At 9 am we are at the construction site. The electricians are lamenting that they are waiting for the architect since 8.30. We are discussing the level of the floor of the mansard. To have an even level, somehow, someone has suggested raising the floor level by 16 cm. There is a brick on the floor and a meter lies on top to visualize the effect. My husband stands on that brick and bends his head to not touch the roof beam. Oh, no! Then he will not be able to cook! The kitchen area will be for short people only! Excluding me, of course. - Oh, and the level should not be the same all the way through the mansard? There will be a step, around here, where we plan a sofa… mmh… impossible! - We decide to further discuss this when the architect shows up.

Meanwhile we continue with the electricians to determine the positions for the lights and light switches, room by room. At 9.30 the architects arrives. We decide that the floor level of the mansard first has to be reduced in one part to allow the tubes for water and electricity to lie underneath. Then the floor will be stabilized with an iron net and at the end they will raise the level to the actual one. And there will be no steps.

After this important and unexpected decision it is time for the bar. It is Friday and our Bar Belvedere is closed. That is the winter schedule. Therefore, l' architetto, Angelo, CC and I are heading for Bar Ercole, the other best gelateria in town. A very friendly owner of an uncertain middle age is serving us drinks and potato chips. His father is drying glasses. I just imagine that they are family. Black and white pictures at the wall show the older men at the age of the younger man. They look alike. The younger men smiles at us. I feel he knows who we are and I wonder what he thinks. Maybe we should not only have a drink here on Fridays.

With the 12 o’clock bell chimes we spread out. The architect back home for lunch, Angelo back to the construction site - the plumber wanted to come again – and CC and I do the grocery shopping and get some medicine for la nonna . We meet Angelo at the palazzo and since the plumber did not show up we all go home to Vibo Marina. L. was playing with CC’s old Lego and had built an airplane.

After lunch, in the early afternoon we go back to the palazzo and take L. with us. At 3.30 we meet the young Signor G., the smith, which could do new window grills for the four windows of the main facade. The young man had brought two thick catalogues full of wrought iron work for windows, gates, fences, balconies, beds, chairs, shelves, you name it. As the sun comes out we enjoy sitting on the bench in front of our house and flip through the catalogues. CC and I have no clue! But we like that iron bed, Mediterranean style. And we know that the window grills should not be “prison style”.

Two windows could have a ‘belly’ (like in the left picture) and the windows over the doors should be flat. The young smith suggests having a decorative border that consists of design elements similar to those of the balconies and the one over the main door. That sounds good. He promises to make a drawing for us by tomorrow. I wonder why I have not done that by myself - a drawing after a detailed Internet research before making such an important decision. I tell myself that any iron grill from Signor G. will look better then what we have now.

Meanwhile L. has observed the lonely worker that restores the window frame of the living room. With a broom L. keeps himself busy cleaning the walls and the floor. He is happy to hear that we are ready for more ice cream. This time we can sit outside in the sunshine. For a picture we take of the hats we have been wearing.

On the way back home we stop half way and go for a walk along the sea. A fantastic evening light embraces the landscape. The sun drops behind cliffs and the sky is tinted in bright pink and orange. The lush grass along the gravel path is intensively green. The surf hits the rocks that protect the coastline. What a wonderful atmosphere. Angelo and CC walk faster then me and L. They seem to look for something. They climb around the rocks and carry a heavy stones back to the path. It is a black lava stone, and to be more precise, it is a former paving stone that has been used in the piazza of Pizzo. Some years ago, when the piazza was renovated the entire old pavement was thrown out. Apparently it was too slippery when it was raining. The old stones appear here and there, thrown in hedges or on the beach. Some people have collected them for their flooring at home. We found some of them in our garden. But not enough. One morning, before our arrival in Pizzo, Angelo had discovered several of these beautiful black paving stones while he was out for an early walk. You need to know: these stones measure around 40 by 20 cm and are extremely heavy, maybe 30 kg. And you need to know: to abstract stones or even sand from the beaches in Italy is illegal. Therefore I am not explaining further what I saw two men doing with the help of an umbrella and a rope this evening at dusk.

Later in Vibo Marina, two men and a little one went for a walk. But I went to the hairdresser for a simple shampoo. I never had a better reason then a cold bathroom with unreliable warm water supply.

The Journal of our construction site vacation is to be continued...

Note: Any similarity to living persons and realities is purely coincidental. The text is subject to the artistic license.

March 20, 2008

Saluti da Pizzo

Click to enlarge
Today I greet you with impressions from Pizzo and wish you all a Happy and Peaceful Easter Holiday.

Source: This nice birthday card from my parents in law recently reached me in China... and makes me dream.

March 17, 2008

Update from the Project

Hello again.
Me too, I have been waiting for a new post.
But I was not in the mood.
The last 10 days were about payments and money transfers and increasing workmen prices that need to be discussed. The financial things really bring me down, back to reality. The project is so romantic and fascinating - until it comes to the payday. Yes, we run out of money - and in order to continue and to pay open invoices, I needed to transfer some of my 'pension fund' (what reminded me of my blogger friend's situation last year in Marrakesh). Of course, nobody gets a free renovation. Even if you do it yourself, you need to buy material and equipment.
I am not going to lament any further. But I wanted to mention it because some people apparently tend to think that we are a cash cow or crazy rich people.
We are not.

Now, it is time to post some nice impressions from the project.
This morning I got another beautiful picture via email from Angelo. It is 'our' wild fig bush growing near the fence over the abyss. We will have some figs to harvest this year.

This is our garden (above) with the growing lemon tree on the right. We got some new plants. Not in the garden but on the 3 square meters behind the fence. It is still our property but too close and too dangerously hanging over the abyss to be part of the garden.

There is the long awaited Bougainvillea plant with beautiful fuchsia blossoms. There are one or two Bird of Paradise plants. One jasmine plant. Several types of agave and cacti. Also some herbs, thyme and rosemary are planted near the fence to be reached easily when needed for cooking. So far I have not figured out all the new plants.

And now, please guess who was planting all these plants behind the fence over the abyss - it was raining before, and it goes down 54 meters - guess who ??!!

My mother-in-law!

I want to state here that I did not knew about her plan before and that I kind of disapproved it afterwards. What if she would have slip? Although sitting here in China, I would have felt responsible. Thank god she is doing fine. Look at her, our stylish gardener: jacket, jewellery, lipstick...

March 06, 2008

Palazzo Journal - Day 2

Day 2, 7.2.

We wake up early. Our son has slept through the night without any coughing! This is amazing since we were afraid of a croup attack after he had started that familiar sealion barking cough on the plane. The fresh humid air in Calabria seems to clean our lungs and bronchi from Chinese pollution.

I look outside the window. Didn't the weather forecast said sunshine in the morning and rain in the afternoon? The sea is rough, it is pouring and windy. I feel cold and I realize that our cold bedroom is the warmest spot in the house. Meanwhile coffee is ready and everybody gathers in the kitchen. The thermometer shows 16 degree Celsius – in the kitchen. Angelo claims it’s broken. I think it is about how cold it feels.

We need to hurry as we have appointments at our palazzo with il elettricista, the electrician at 9.00 and with il idraulico, the plumber at 10.00. I am so excited and can’t wait to see all the work that has been done since the start of the renovation about three months ago in November.

Angelo, CC and I arrive at the house in Pizzo a bit earlier to have a quick look around. It worth coming allover from China to get a feeling for the new opened living space and the added bathrooms. At 9.00 sharp the electricians arrive and we have to tell where we want plugs, switches, lights, TV, Internet, intercom system, fridge, oven … – to start with – under the roof.
As soon as we point somewhere they spray their signs on the walls. I feel unprepared and wonder why. I have a big file under my arm. They rush and we have done half of the second floor when il idraulico drops in. It is only 9.30. So someone continues discussing with the electricians and someone starts to talk to the plumber. While the electricians make a new appointment for the afternoon and greet, another craftsman comes by. He needs to be briefed for the eaves gutter. But this should be in present of il architetto. This is when I realize that P, the architect is still missing.

P shows up just a little later and salutes us like old friends, kisses on the cheeks. We ask him about the thick supporting wall in the tiny overhanging loo that he wanted to modify for the installation of a small shower. The plumber just had said we can’t touch that wall. I am a bit confused. Not much about the differences, but about who is saying what. We accept the plumber’s suggestion to install the shower in the opposite corner. That means the sink has to move below the window. Aah, how nice, my son will be brushing teeth with sea view! Over a tiny sink though, but who cares, it’s fantastic!

Together we continue with the plumber and mark where we need radiators. This is the best weather for radiator salesmen. I agree right away in every room on every radiator. I remember me saying: ‘This is the South of Italy, why should we install heater?’ - I don’t like radiators. They are not pretty, steal space and collect dust. - But who wants to shiver inside the house covered with blankets like an Indian tribal chief?

At 12.30 it is time for the apperitivo at the bar "Belvedere". Instead of a drink or coffee, my husband and I share una Torta Belvedere. It is a calorie bomb of ice cream. But after all, we deserve it! Later, back home at Vibo Marina - where luckily my mother-in-law is taking care of our son, shopping and cooking - we eat lunch with the electrical heater right behind me. In summer, after pranzo, lunch, we usually do a pisolino, a nap. But today nobody of us three Beijingers can sleep.

In the afternoon, the electrician calls and cancels the appointment. But we still go to see the house again around 17.00. L wants to see ‘his house’. We do not stay that long and go straight to the bar Belvedere. It is again raining slightly, so we sit inside. I am having a hot chocolate. I had forgotten how good it tastes in Italy. It is a thick, dark and tasty, almost chocolate sauce! We talk to the iceman of the third generation – the gelateria is in the hands of the forth generation – about the latest rumors in the village. On the way back to the car, we pay a short visit to our real estate agent for a small talk. And as Italians can't walk by someone's house without knocking, we next knock at the architect’s office. He opens the door and we have a quick look at the lungomare project, the new seaside of Pizzo, he is in charge of. If it will be realized like in the picture he is showing us, it will be the attraction of Pizzo! They plan to widen up the little fisherboat port at the Seggiola and let the water come in until the grotta - just below our house. I fell like in a dream, un sogno. Maybe we should move here for ever.

Shortly after dinner we go to bed. Very early, very healthy. We sleep all three together under several blankets and warm each others back and feet. I feel like we have traveled back in time. It is a nice feeling.

To be continued ...
Previous Day
all Journal posts

March 05, 2008

Before and After: Seaside Facade

The patient before in 2006 - a little cleansing and colour is necessary:

And voila, after the treatment in 2008:

Well ... it's a new face ... I have to get used to it ... it might take a while. Not sure if I like the blue over the windows. Maybe a bit too much colour for an old lady? Hmm, the pinkish rouge before was suiting her very well... also the grey balustrade had charm. I guess, this is how you feel after a beauty surgery: is it still me?

While restoring they found blue colour over the windows and the architetto thought to use it again. If we don't like it, we could overpaint it. We agreed. Only now, I see the result, but the scaffolding is gone... How funny!

Update photo 2009:

More Facade Before & After posts:
See all renovation posts BEFORE and AFTER.
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