September 20, 2009

Restoration progress of the Vaulted Cellar

One of the beauties of our house in the South of Italy is a spectacular vaulted cellar.

Formerly used as warehouse for the storage of olive oil and handmade soap this vault is carved into the cliff below the ground floor of our house. From here, many years ago, the traders sold olive oil and soap to the merchant ships by letting down the cliff roped up baskets with the goods.

A separate entrance leads from the piazza downstairs and opens up to this long gallery with high stone ceilings. We call it our 'seminterrato' (basement).

The former storage area was in two large rooms (on the right). The storage area in the ground is still visible (not in the picture). We still think of recovering it and illuminate it below a glass top.

The gallery and the second room have doors that lead to a small garden. Here we added the two iron doors (older post).
The garden offers breath taking views as everywhere in the house.

Our architect, who is specialised in restoring old stone walls and ceilings, did a great job.

Okay, here the close observer will recognize that we have a humidity problem. This seems to origine from the outside wall that we have not touched so far. It is a stonewall on which a few wild plants grow and their roots might cause the dammage and rain water finds its way through.

I would solve this problem before the wet season starts. But it is a question of money ... to restore properly the outside wall my father-in-law calculates another few thousands of Euro ... the dammage will be minor. The walls are not even painted yet (just plastered).

This is the gallery from the other side. On the far left starts the steps that lead up to the piazza by passing by a small bathroom.

Here we are. This is one of the future bathrooms. Under the vault (on the right) will be the shower ! And the window has seaview !

Opposite the shower will be the toilet and bidet - a must in an Italian home - with a lighting on top.

Let's summarize: the vaulted cellar has a long gallery with space for a small kitchen and dining area. It has two rooms for a living area and a sleeping area. And it will have a pretty bathroom.
And ....

.... it has a small garden with spectacular sea view !

And a 'balcony' with an even more breathtaking view.

Remember the separate entrance - what do you think ?!

Isn't this an ideal guest appartment ?
For family and friends - and maybe to rent as well !?!

The 'balcony' with the renovated iron railway.

Next step:
We think about flooring. What kind of material. I would love to try concrete or Venizian terrazzo. Maybe too much 'stone' on ceiling, walls and floor ? And maybe lack of working skills. Concrete floors often have problems with cracks. What about wooden panels ? Antique oak ? Wood providea a warmer atmosphere. But humidity might be a problem, air must circulate underneath the wood. Terra cotta tiles ? Delicate sometimes. Not warm enough ?

We have time. But your input is welcome !!!

September 10, 2009

Italian way of how to use Bamboo shades on balconies

I do love that balcony with that shade ! I posted it before when I was musing about how to handle the sun with inside window shutters and difficult curtain situation. In Italy do like the Italians do. So I looked around and found all these bamboo shades on balconies. You have shade and air at the same time. You can look out but no one can look in. It is a pretty and very affordable solution.

shade palazzo alcala
Even the inhabitants of the nicest palazzi in town use this solution. The lower floor (above pic) with the white shutters show exactly my situation.

shade 5
You can roll the shades up and down easily - like interior blinds.

And even the more shabby houses are having them ...

shade 4
And the charming houses ...

In this palazzo one inhabitant is using a bamboo shade and his above neighbour is using a fabric shade. I definately prefer the bamboo shade.

For those who want to see another fabric alternative. Not bad either.

As you can guess, I am a fan of bamboo shades. How could I not, after having lived 8 years in Asia ?!

All above pictures were taken in Pizzo (VV).

September 01, 2009

September 1st : Summer is Over for Italians

What a difference a day makes !

Today, the sea was fresher and cleaner.

A different smell in the air.

And no people at the beach !

Okay, about three elderly ladies with hats were having a chat in the shallow water.

No screaming children, no flying baseballs, no families of ten between me and the sea. No forgotten plastic bottles.

Just the peaceful sound of tiny waves and the far away church bells.

My mother-in-law explained to me, that the summer is over now.

At least Italian housewives would consider the summer as over and not go to the beach anymore. Even when the temperatures are still high and the water even more beautiful, they would only come to the beach on weekends.

In fact, today, on the beach, there were only these elderly ladies - and us. And a few grandchildren. But no men. All back at work.

We spent two wonderful hours in the water, chating and swimming and snorkling (the little one, not me) - and then back home for pranzo (lunch).

I will really enjoy my last days here in Calabria before I have to return back to the 'North' of Europe.

* * * Please Note : * * *

If you ever plan to visit Calabria - or any other Italian coast - don't come in August !

In August, about 30 million Italians are going on holiday.

The heat is unbearable.
This year, August was hotter then ever, the locals said.

The beaches are crowded.
No parking space available.
Traffic jam at night.

No seats at 10 pm in the gelaterie.
Worst service of the year in the restaurants.
And more garbage and more smelling.

Only the second weekend after Ferragosto (August 15th) people start to travel back home.

However, September 1st makes the difference.
No matter if it is just a Tuesday, like today.
There is this difference to yesterday, August 31st.

Today, summer is over - for Italians - and the best season starts !

(Above pic painting by me on one of these hot August days when none of us wanted to go to the crowded beach.)
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