The significant work I’d still like to do would be twofold: tame and landscape the outdoor area and extend the house into part of it. Antonio did an ambitious design for the expansion that includes an enlarged kitchen and sun room — perhaps with another bedroom above — and terrace area. I might be content with a less unruly garden and a screened-in terrace. We’ll see.
As I mentioned in another post, the house has a great situation – one Italian souls seem to appreciate even more than I do. They consider it the best of two worlds — profane and sacred, in a way. You walk in the front door from a little town where pretty much everything you need is within walking distance, and out the back into a messy, overgrown Eden. Beyond it are rolling hills of vineyards and, in the distance, the revered Maiella mountains.
The property is shaped like a droopy slice of pizza you’re holding in your hand. The top, the area nearest the house, is wide and level; it narrows and drops precipitously toward the tip of the slice, which ends in a ravine. Apparently, I have an almond tree, a cherry tree, and even a single olive tree somewhere back there.
Not that I know that first-hand. I can’t even walk to the end of my property because there’s such dense underbrush and thicket blocking the way, not to mention other impediments like the all-too-real possibility of taking a header down into the gully, or the stinging nettle I discovered one day when I ran out in sandals. (Can’t believe I’ve actually drunk that as a tea.)
A gardener comes occasionally to hack through the area nearest the house so you can walk around a bit.
The problem is that, right now, there’s no access to the back for heavy equipment because my house, from the street side, sits cheek-by-jowl with those to the right and left. As things stand, you’d have to swing a crane over the roof to get heavy machinery to the back.
The better alternative is to run a driveway from the street into the yard. That means knocking through part of the house. The interior kitchen wall has already been moved for that purpose. Once I swing the wrecking ball, though, I’ll be committed, and I’ve been chary of pulling the trigger on all that expense.
What’s more, I’ll need approval from the town for so extensive a job. Four years ago, when I was a little more gung-ho, I asked Antonio and Sr. P, the geometra (in Italy, the geometra maps out and submits detailed plans to the local government), when we’d start the work.
“Subito,” said Antonio. (Immediately.)
“Subito,” said Sr. P. “Piu o meno.” (More or less.)
Four years later, we haven’t recommenced. That’s partly because I haven’t pressed the issue, vacillating as I do. It’s also partly because the geometra still hasn’t submitted the expansion plans to the town, and now we’re not even sure where he is.