Arriving back in Navelli after a day out Francesca called the alternative engineer. He understood the project was a restoration and that he was available and was to come and view the house on Saturday at 9am. A sense of relief flooded over me – checking emails I had not heard back from any other potential project managers for the house.
The next morning I headed off to the house armed with my newly purchased pruning shears and arrived about 10:30am. My neighbour was impressed with me as she spotted the large roll of garden mesh for utilizing for the fence and brought out a bottle of water for me. I spent some time removing the old wire netting that had all but disintegrated around the garden and snipping off the old metal ties to make room for the new improved fence. The roll of new mesh was quite weighty and I must admit I struggled somewhat unraveling it and placing it on the concrete edging, but once up and tied it looked markedly better than its predecessor!
I then set to cutting my prunings into shorter lengths to tidy up a little. My neighbour Ida came out in the afternoon with a small axe to help me strip off the leaves from some of the prunings to make a neater pile. I also planted a little bit of colour and following advice from Virginia to protect it from cats and to put it where she could water it for me we put up a little fence around that too. By the time I finished it was late afternoon and I was getting more than a little hungry. I packed in my tools and headed off to the supermarket in San Pio. I bought some cherry tomatoes, bocconcini and prosciutto crudo to prepare a small anti pasti platter for a late lunch/early dinner.
Jimmy and Francesca arrived at their home around 8:30pm with news that the engineer had cancelled the meeting in the morning but that they had some other news for me. An architect had been in touch and would meet us at the house with an engineer at 11am the next day – all was not lost.
Saturday finally arrived and I headed off to the house via the hardware store to pick up some lengths of chain and padlocks. When we arrived in the village the architect Maurizio was already waiting for us and was conversing with my neighbour Virginia – as it turned out he was the same architect that had restored her property following damage from the April 2009 earthquake (terremoto). I was thrilled the work they had done was excellent and I walked nervously down to the house wondering what his assessment would be.
Maurizio was positive regarding the house – there were some aspects of safety he was concerned about due to the property being neglected and affected by water damage via nearly 40 years without habitation. The presence of the vaulted ceilings was a positive aspect – it seems these are much stronger than regular flat ceiling/roof construction. The window on the first floor had been pushed out further following the harsh winter conditions – the extremes of temperature in the area causing larger cracks and fissures in the construction and I was also surprised to find water had collected in a bowl under the stairs. With Maurzio’s favourable murmurs we headed up to the Bar Aufinium for an espresso while we waited a half hour for the arrival of the engineer. Bar Aufinium was buzzing with locals as always friendly and welcoming.
Paolo the Engineer was waiting for us on our return to the casa (house) and he and Maurizio reviewed the house again and discussed the various potential aspects of the project. The engineer believes the house can be restored independently of the houses at the side and rear of the property including the strengthening work which will be required. We exchanged our full contact details and I was advised they would return the following week to measure the house and prepare a quotation for the work.
I felt somewhat relieved with the positive assessment of my casa – there was no possibility that I would ever consider pulling it down and I knew in my heart the property was sound. I wondered when I would be able to return to initiate next steps.
Sunday I drove nearly 3 hours to friends in Umbria for a lunch and wine pairing with a group of some 18 expats whom I had meet via Facebook. We had a wonderful lunch and conversation and found many of us were somehow connected by 6 degrees of separation! A few of us continued on to have dinner together cooked by our lovely hostess Giselle, we were plied with further delicious wines by our host Mark and entertained by their delightful dog Stella – what a fantastic day to remember!
Monday I awoke wondering whether the protests blocking off the ring road in Rome would be cleared. Thankfully it was and I had a smooth drive to Rome’s Fiumincino (Leonardo Da Vinci) Airport for my flight to Nice, France. As always I left a little more of me behind in Italy – each journey makes it a little harder to leave as I make a home for myself there.
Serendipity would have me back for the weekend!