Busy furnishing and decorating in April

This April 2016 in Pizzo was not meant for us to be a leisure holiday. Our destination was not the Calabrian sea or mountains but all hardware-stores, furniture-shops and casalinga-suppliers in the region.

42 punti luce!  Translated this means that our inseparable pair of electricians, Alfonso & Ciccio, had managed to install forty two light sources that needed to be covered with lamps, mainly wall lamps as pendants, I was told, non si fa piu. Not easy in Calabria where not one store had more than three lights of the same sort in stock. Of course you can always order! 

Thinking to find two queen size beds, buy them, get them delivered and done, was also an illusion of mine. That's one of the reasons we are not ready in May with our new vacation rentals. - Vabbè! - We will be ready mid July! And we had a great time! As usual! We are addicted house-decorators, and here are some visual impressions:

my husband's famous red sofa finds a new home :-)

my husband's famous red sofa finds a new home :-)


The photo above is actually from my last day. I stood 8 days longer than my husband and son because there was so much work to do ... or should I say work to "coordinate"? On my last day, a windy Sunday, the local artist Antonio La Gamba came by with some of his pieces to advise on how to display them best in the house. It came in handy that he was there when we arrived with that red sofa on top of the roof of Angelo's car. That sofa has seen already a few different flats before and is over 20 years old and still beaming. It now has found a new home in the small bedroom upstairs in our "Dependance" where guest can sit and enjoy the seaview.

charming late night art delivery and hanging test

charming late night art delivery and hanging test


Talking artist, above is one of my favorite shots. I didn't give up waiting for the framing and was rewarded with a charming late night delivery and a hanging test by talented local photographer Francesca Procopio and her charming husband Gianpaolo. I took the photo and Angelo did the hanging first thing the next morning.

the result - matching even perfectly the red and the blue in the Vietri floor tiles

the result - matching even perfectly the red and the blue in the Vietri floor tiles


The photographs above are modern interpretations of old masters by photographer Francesca Procopio. 

professional support

professional support


There were only a few exceptions when Angelo needed professional support. This pendant has three light bulbs and each bulb can be controlled by one single light switch directly. Press one, all three lights on, press two, one light out, press three, two lights out, press four, all lights out, ... and press one too often -> repeat.

the new kitchen is nicer than mine!

the new kitchen is nicer than mine!


The kitchen was delivered already but because of its unusual counter top shape we were recommended to get a customized natural stone top, which we did. Our marmista in Filadelfia (in Calabria, on the hills!) had this beautiful marble from Carrara (which we had visited before and like the lardo speck as well). So now, here it is, our marble kitchen top, delivered and fitted with the help of Angelo and Lidia, my in-laws!

short break to discuss Furniture arrangement

short break to discuss Furniture arrangement


If this looks like sitting around, no way! We just had carried the sofa from the other side and moved the heavy arm chairs to the opposite wall and are discussing the new arrangement and also trying the effect. Lidia is wearing a working sweater from Angelo (it can be cold in April) and cool shoes. On the table are a few wall lamps ready for mounting.

re-arranging furniture IN BETWEEN apaRtments

re-arranging furniture IN BETWEEN apaRtments


Just a few minutes later, we are walking up and down again. Bringing furniture and stuff from the Dependance (upper entrance) to the Studio (ground floor entrance). Sets of plates for downstairs, sets of plates for upstairs, sets of wine glasses, prosecco glasses (important!) upstairs and downstairs, knives, scissors, pans & pots, towels, bed sheets & curtains, espresso machine ... and more ... all you need for your perfect holiday we unpacked, washed, ironed, prepared, sewed, trimmed and distributed into the right drawers and shelves. While Angelo was still drilling to hang lamps and pictures, and I assisted with the vacuum cleaner, at least I tried to be as fast as him.

Browsing the local weekend markets

Browsing the local weekend markets

Shopping with Lidia is fun. She has the right "eye" to spot things. On Saturday, at the market in Vibo Valentia, we found the handmade baskets and typical Calabrian green and white household ceramics. On Monday, at the market in Vibo Marina, we bought all the right fabrics for curtains and Lidia spotted the unusual mirror from Germany (!) (photo above left).

we can't wait to see our fabrics from the market on these windows

we can't wait to see our fabrics from the market on these windows

different kind of curtains (tende) where made by talented Lidia

different kind of curtains (tende) where made by talented Lidia

Although we worked hard, the Italian structure of the day was duly followed: lunch breaks started not later than 1.30pm and we often went for an aperitivo in the evenings, and some espresso breaks at the bars in the piazza. We even got a phone call and our coffee orders were taken by surprise visitors which led to a cleared and representable / photogenic dining table and our first Kaffeeklatsch at home!

First visitors from near and far (new york city!) and first Kaffeklatsch at home

First visitors from near and far (new york city!) and first Kaffeklatsch at home


We had some welcoming interruptions from work when neighbours, friends and even actual guest from the residence stopped by to see our progress. They all liked the place, and that is widely understated. They all loved the Dependance. Some said they even prefer it over the palazzo. (Mainly because of the clean white walls ... he he he... I begged Angelo to not use any colours this time).

first staged photo with real guest And tab water ...

first staged photo with real guest And tab water ...


Best advertising ever! Gianni and Nada spontaneously staged a holidayer scene with our new wine glasses (Lidia poured them quickly tap water...). Imagine Aperol in the glasses and that is your view! Whatever balcony you choose, we have four facing this dream scenery, come to Pizzo!

Deciding on where to hang the large painting

Deciding on where to hang the large painting

Deciding on how to hang pictures

Deciding on how to hang pictures

Decision making processes on where to hang paintings and how to arrange the hanging of them. Quite easy when you have some good advisers and can take a step back to look at it.

Very happy about how our kitchen turned out!

Very happy about how our kitchen turned out!


The kitchen above was custom built around the vaulted staircase underneath and I think, we are very happy how it turned out. The colourful backsplash band of ceramic tiles is an artwork of local maestro di ceramica Antonio Montesanti and tells a bit the story of Pizzo. And of course I love my retro azzurro SMEG fridge! 

Coming back to my last day in Pizzo, Antonio La Gamba is taking a photo (photo below) of the kitchen wall we want to hang one of his sculptures. We agreed to look for a smaller fish of a smoother material. It's another item on my to do list in my mind.

placing art by Antonio La Gamba

placing art by Antonio La Gamba


Although we were working on many details allover the house and lots of tools and packaging was laying around, I tried my best to take some decent photos that show potential travellers the new apartments in the best way possible for now. Please see the photos and more details about the Dependance delle Grazie and the Studio Bellavista on our website. An overview of all three vacation rentals can be found here. We are looking forward hearing from you, please contact us if you have any questions.  

The work continues in the following weeks and we are looking forward to greet our first guests this summer!!

I say ciao for now, and greet you with that stunning sunset and Stromboli view from the church square just next to the Dependance & Studio!

natural beauty cannot be kitsch

natural beauty cannot be kitsch


Dear Reader,

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Grazie ed a presto


Buongiorno di Pizzo

We are here, in Bella Pizzo, already in our second week, and I have not posted anything here on the blog yet. It is more a technical issue. First I could not connect to the Internet. And even with my mobile phone I constantly lost network in our house with many one meter thick walls.

Until one sunny afternoon, when the Irish gentleman, who is Pizzitano since many years and chances to meet him in one of the bars in the piazza are good, told me that almost every bar in the piazza has wifi, and he knows all the different passwords from "franco62" to "iloveicecream".

Maybe I should sit in the piazza and write a post on the iPad... But what about photos? For me a post needs at least one nice photo. May I invite you to check our pics and posts on FB at www.facebook.com/PalazzoPizzo instead.

But what's up in Pizzo? Or our house?

Not sure where to start. For the insiders who spent here last summer, I would say, the pizzeria La Ruota, after 8 month of closure, has reopened at the Marina and Sasa La Divina is singing again in piazza every Wednesday night. (I still wonder if she is a twin sister or brother of our electrician.)

Since La Ruota was closed on the piazza, because the whole palazzo is under renovation (will we see another nice hotel?), the restaurant at the corner, Le Castelane, started offering pizza too, and is doing well.

Next to the gelateria and Bar Ercole, a prodotti tipici shop has opened. Le Chicche di Calabria has a few cute tables on the piazza where you can eat different (cold) specialities of Calabria, salami, cheese, sweets and of course taste wine.... Last night the triple grappa was too much for me...

Angelo still comes every morning to our house. First he fixed a window, then he lent me his Bosch sander. When he does not appear until 10am I already worry he might have felt off his Vespa... Yesterday, he bought new material to fix again part of the vaulted stone ceiling in our residence. Today he repainted a bathroom wall. We have some walls where the paint comes off again. In some areas it seems humidity with unknown source, in other areas it seems just a material problem.

My first days here, I was occupied with vacuum cleaning, grinding garden chairs, and painting those. While vacuum cleaning, I discovered a lake of water below one sofa. I thought of a broken tube... But it was condense water "only"! We thought of acquiring a "deumificatore".

My garden chair project took several days, because I only could work on the balcony as long as there was shadow - I've got a sunburn after my first visit to the beach. I thought I could sunbath like the Italians, and additionally did NOT use my 50+ suncream...

Now, my tiny chair project is accomplished, my skin feels better and I can go to the beach again.

Another big project however, is on hold: Pizzo harbor. The wind blows fine dust on our balconies and through the windows from the deserted sandy dessert around the unfinished harbor basin below the house. The new major wants to continue the project, but people say the commune has no money left.

Finding: La Torta Belvedere tastes differently this summer. Maybe my gustatory sense has changed, maybe the recipe - unfortunately. Although, it makes the decision easier: tartuffo!

Recently, our neighbour has painted a wall connecting our houses in the same color, almost same color, as our facade. And I did not notice!

Sunday evening, I was invited to celebrate my neighbour's (another neighbour, and friend) birthday with a BBQ on the beach at the Marinella. Beside a few Italians, some originally from the North, I met an interesting international group of English, Irish, Dutch and American - all very nice people, and all in love with Pizzo.

Today, the tapissiere passed by to have a look at our chairs and sofa. We explained what we want and he gave us a price. Since he is busy and we expect friends, we decided to only let him work on the upholstery after our holiday.

After lunch, when we were thinking of a pisolino, two window makers arrived with a zanzariera, a moskito net frame for one of our windows.

Tonight, we plan to have dinner with my inlaws and a friend from Rome at San Domenico restaurant. It was our favorite last year. Looking forward! :-)

Good Morning Pizzo !

We made it !
We moved in ! Although the moving truck already delivered tons of boxes over two years ago !

We finally spent the first night in our house in Pizzo !

We survived the night - everything was new ... one moskito disturbed our sleep and the blue movement control light that switches on whenever you move was a bit strange too, but it helped to find the way to the bathroom. The newly aquired matresses, bed sheets and pillows are very comfortable.
But above all, the sound of the waves was fantastic !

The breakfast photo, that looks so beautiful,  is a bit of staging though ... I have to admit....

1) I usually do not eat Choco Pops for breakfast (only today, since I had no other choice).
2) My son, who eats this, however did not want to join me for breakfast in the sun, he prefered the kitchen counter inside
3) CC and Angelo were absent too; they went for a morning walk like always and planned to have breakfast at Belvedere (!)
4) the two espresso cups are empty because the espresso machine had the wrong (Chinese) plug! And the other espresso machine that would have worked, we had forgotten in Vibo Marina...

I am enjoying myself very much! We all do !

Lunch, however, we have again at Hotel Mamma in Vibo Marina, as usual. The only way to publish this post... (I need to find out how to blog with my phone). Also a chance to pack the other espresso machine - and to borrow a dining tabel! Angelo will transport it to our house on top of his car after the siesta.

no title

For this post I have no title.
Or should I call it "my strangest summer holidays ever" or "lost in renovation"?

Since ten days - this is how long I am now in the South of Italy - I am telling myself, this is only a short phase, we are going to move in soon, tomorrow, maybe, and tomorrow I am telling myself the same thing, we are moving in tomorrow, domani, magnana...

But what do we do in the evening without light in the living room? Or at night in the bathroom? Okay, lets buy lamps. Of course, CC does not want to spend his holidays buying lamps, so we buy all in once... not sure how many dozens we bought in one afternoon – mainly wall lamps (applique).  Is it only our team of electricians or do Italians in general have a passion for wall lamps?

wall lamps for the whole house

Luckily we found a shop similar to IKEA that has quiet a good choice (Semeraro at Lamezia's Due Mare shopping center). Of course we did not only buy lamps. Also adapters, plugs and jacks to harmonize Asian and European lamps and appliances with the two Italian systems of electric plugs we both have spread irregularly all over the house. - And hooks, we also bought lots of hooks and mirrors for six bathrooms...

red bathroom: mirror installed (inherited from mother-in-law),
matching lamp hopefully found
(in this room the camera failures always!)

After the shopping tours, we are now in the phase of installing all the loot. While Angelo is drilling I am sucking the dust with the vacuum cleaner, like an assistant of a dentist. Whenever I have finished dust cleaning a room, new workers appear with something, like installing air conditions or a built-in wardrobe, delivering a wet sofa (it was raining the other day),  a mattress (not wet) and marble sills. Still some wood and ceramic cutting for the flooring downstairs is outstanding -  of course, they promise – they will work outside with closed doors.

seminterrato: kitchen installed, flooring almost completed

Before I get crazy, I escaped with our son to the beach at Pizzo Marina this afternoon.
It was my first time this summer, and it felt so good!

Short excursus: There was this Italian guy at the beach who seemed keen to practice his German with me that he learned 20 years ago in the Ruhrpott.... When he asked me where my husband was, I said that he is working. Where, he asked. At home, I said. At home? He thought not to understand well. But I insisted: at casa, he is installing lamps, I added. - Oh, said the guy, so he is an electrician? I am a bricklayer! And he started to ask more and more questions.... - It was not easy to get rid of him without being impolite. Not sure what kind of reputation German ladies have with some senior Italians. 

Beside my encounter with a slightly annoying admirer, I had a nice and relaxing afternoon at the beach. And I am looking forward to see the progress in the house that happened without me.

BTW, CC said we are moving in tomorrow!!!

black kitten after rain

amazing green sea after rain and wind yesterday

Progressing, Unpacking and the Bar

We are progressing. Half of the house is now ready for furnishing - but the other half is still dusty construction. Although we are closing doors between ready and non-ready areas, the workers (and ourselves) walk up and down between clean and dusty areas. So by now, dust is mainly everywhere... but we are progressing. Here in photos:

the blue bathroom got flooring:
restored terra cotta tiles previously used in other areas of the house 

We also finally got flooring in the entrance:
restored old tiles with floral pattern previously used in a room in the first floor

we visited an antique dealer in Vibo Valentia to look for some wardrobes and commodes since we need to store clothes, bed linnen, towels etc somewhere - the above wardrobe is French, but we bought it nevertheless

ahh, the kitchen... la cucina.... the planning seems endless, but it's coming

the guestroom looks like this now... no matress yet, but tons of cushions...

it took us 3 days to find all parts and screws and to understand how to mount this bunk bed

unpacked boxes awaiting to be thrown out

If you take a closer look, you will see, that the boxes are from three different moving companies! Why? Because we have been moving a couple of times and there are boxes that are almost waiting since three years to be unpacked and some were even packed more than eight (!!!) years ago. No wonder, we are sometimes surprised about what we find inside...

it seems to take ages to unpack - maybe because I can't take my eyes from that view !!!
Just now, during my little phototaking break, CC comes upstairs to take me to the bar for an espresso ...

11 am espresso at the bar
(I always take espresso macchiato, with a spot of milk)

Angelo kept working. We bring him an espresso from the bar, also one for the carpenter who is having appointment with us now on site.

12 am another espresso at the bar
(this time CC in company of a friend and the carpenter)

Finally, our first tartuffo ! CC and I shared one (it's almost lunch time)

Katia and Pino
The piazza is like the living room of the village, you always meet someone you know!

La vita e bella! Especially when the sun is shining warm on you, the sky is blue, it's 12 am in Pizzo and all the churches bells are ringing, with the view over the sea ... it feels like you have yet reached paradise.