By popular request, Spello “before and after” photos

I promised myself that I would get this blog done before going on to the current blogs, and I have been working on finding photos, cropping and processing them, and even taking some new, current photographs. This has been quite a chore, compared to other posts, and I think this blog will cover the bases—for those of you who have been requesting that I review and compare this house when I first saw it to what it has become. The previous owner of the house, Signor Cocchini, would not let the realtor show the house without his presence, so we met him at the house, and he brought the keys. That was April 2010, and I only took a few photos, to help me remember what I saw. I was NOT looking for a place to buy, but was satisfying my curiosity about real estate costs here.

Once I saw the house, and knew the price, the wheels began turning slowly in my head. I returned to the US a week or so after I saw the house, and kept thinking about it. It was hidden, secure, and small. Even more significant in Spello, it was on the ground floor, near a principal piazza, had a patio and a view of Santa Maria degli Angeli (near Assisi) and was near my friends here. After a few months of thinking about the possibility, I wrote to the realtor in Spello, and asked if this property was still on the market. Hearing “Yes,” I began the bidding process, and ended up buying this place in September 2010, after many offers and counter-offers via e-mail and attachments.

So this is the result—what I saw the one and only time that I was able to see this place before purchasing, and what it has become since then. I have carried so much here, from home, to stock the cabinets and the kitchen, and now I am reaching a point that there is no more that I need to bring. I am happily spending time here, photographing and baking and cooking and gardening and hiking on Monte Subasio, and I have all that I need right at hand.

So, here are the “Before” and “After” photos, as of May 2012, and you can see the differences for yourself. I have had this blog post in mind for some time, and now it will be posted and the results will be shared with anyone tuned in to the blog.

Here we go!  (The captions will tell the rest of the story.)

Doorway to the "ingresso," with the "For Sale" sign posted on it--April, 2010

Same doorway, once the entry to the stables, now with my house number (1) and post box

House number, doorbell and post box

April, 2010: the "ingresso," in violation of the written pact to keep it cleaned up

Ingresso now--a bit more tidied up than before, "garage" storage for other residents in the building above

April, 2010--my first view of the courtyard, big half-moon window I loved instantly

Same view today--jasmine gone, flowers and kitchen herbs planted instead

Before, view back toward the gate ("cancello") with algae growing on the window wall

Same view today--without the invasion of the star jasmine into the courtyard, and with flower boxes

Before--Sig. Cocchini, the previous owner, and the jasmine "hedge"--he wouldn't trust the realtor with the keys

Same view, today--more sunlight, less humidity, panoramic view, no more algae on the wall

Today, my small contribution to "Spellani" covering the village in flowers this time of the year

Another view, my flower boxes hung on the iron grate of the kitchen window--with parsley and basil tucked in, too

Today, view back toward the doors--and the wine demijohn just rescued from the trash

April, 2010--the outer thick wooden doors, for security, with glass doors behind them

Same view, today--with table and chairs for watching the sunset and dining outside

The doors, today--in need of refinishing, but my security when I am not here

April, 2010--the view from inside the front door out to the courtyard ("cortile")

View today, from inside the front door

April, 2010--First view of the living room, old leftover furniture, a house left vacant for several years

Today: new furniture and revisions--a slow evolution (bench coffee table I carried home on the train from Arezzo, and through Spello)

Today--the other half of the living room (half IKEA and half Italian antiques, mixed together)

April, 2010--the closet under the stairs, plumbed for a washer!!!! Amen!!!

Now, a center for washing, household tools, ladder,cleaning products, vacuum, shopping trolley, etc.

Before--short hallway between the living room and kitchen

Now: antique madia (for breadmaking), Deruta lamp, wooden shelves replacing glass ones, PAINT!

Hand-painted Deruta ceramic lamp--a month old--for some bright color and light

April, 2010: View back to the living room from the kitchen

Today: shelves gone, the same view with structural arch, iron clock, recycling buckets, table and chairs

April, 2010: Sig. Cocchini and Paola, outside the half-moon window (once the stable entry), side windows of yellow glass

Today: window open, clear replacement glass in all windows, storage built-in underneath, privacy short Sicilian lace curtains

April, 2010: the window wall, with the previous kitchen completely removed by the owners

Same view today: cabinets and shelves installed under the window, kitchen table and chairs, lighting fixture, refrigerator

Sicilian lace curtains, transparent enough to keep the view and the light, and a few "finds" from here

Above cabinets: antique wooden bird cages from Arezzo antiques fair, and wine "stash"(all cheap but good) on old wooden racks from a bar

April, 2010: old kitchen wall tile, plus water and gas connections together awaiting a kitchen installation

Today: from the same angle, the pantry, refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, quartzite countertop and cabinets

Today: other half of the kitchen, including the stovetop, oven and the hood (gas line was moved)

Today: view into the kitchen from the living room, with my "bar" shelf, cookie jar

April, 2010: the bathroom sink, bare bulb, horrible cabinet (in my humble opinion)

Today: mirror wall-to-wall, ceramic lamp, same cabinet (painted out, some day soon, I hope)

Original bathroom (the only two seats in the house--a toilet and a bidet)

Bathroom, today--pesky bathroom scale installed, curtain and bath rug

Today: storage over the bath, new towel rack over pocket door (tricky installation)

Today: baskets for extra towels and TP, antique carved mirror, small landscape

April, 2010: the loft, already installed but incorrectly counted in the house area (ceiling too low to be legally "habitable")

Today: same view, with storage credenza, holding two inflatable beds and their linens, extra towels

April, 2010: empty loft, pine floor, with vaulted low ceiling making it illegal to count as available living area

Today: storage credenza with extra guest beds, bedding, and small writing desk and chair

Today: second storage credenza for linens, and my "reading/rocking spot" (When did I get so old? Rocking, really?)

Today: view from the loft, and green glass demijohns over the door (all very old)

April, 2010: the bedroom, still mostly pink limestone rock walls from Mt. Subasio

Today: same view, furnished with a queen bed, dresser, and armoire ("armadia) from IKEA, plus an antique chestnut storage chest

April, 2010: unfurnished, empty bedroom corner

Today, with furnishings and accessories (antique painted side tables for the bed)

April, 2010: view toward the courtyard from the bedroom, another bare bulb, and the "Hobbit door" (5'3" tall)

Today, same view: old carved coat rack on the wall, items from antique fairs, extra chairs, new clear window glass

April, 2010: "Hobbit door," small to preserve architectural stone arch above it

Today: new clear glass in window, armoire for hanging clothing, privacy curtain for night

Today: antique handmade child's chair (Pissignano antiques), painted hydrangeas panel (Foligno marketplace) over the armoire

My sincerest apologies to those of you who are watching smoke rising from your computers, after downloading 61 photographs! This was a huge chore, to document “before and after,” and I hope it tells the story well of building this little place, one piece at a time (“un pezzo alla volta), almost always without a car, and transporting many familiar items from home (this time, especially, the metal canisters painted with roosters that were once in my late Grandmother Ryan’s kitchen in San Jose, always filled with cookies for the six little Colwells–as children, our “Mecca.”). Now I say a small prayer that this will upload! Ciao!

3 comments to By popular request, Spello “before and after” photos

  • redsonya511

    this is truly inspirational! What a wonderful transformation! Thank you for this site!

  • abucko

    This comment applies to many of your blogs. OK, so I finished drying my eyes as I do everytime I finish one of your stories. I cannot pinpoint the best because they all touch my heart but I love this one because it joins the past with the present. We are able to see the transformation but not an anihilation. The historic, charming and special parts of your house are maintained with a touch of modernity and class. I just love the view to your little courtyard and my favorite is the window. It tells stories by itself. Thank you for sharing your piece of Spello with us. The story lives on through you to us. Your photos are breathtaking and allow us to relive a little piece of our time there and yearn for more. Thank you BJ.
    Alicia e Eduardo

  • sage

    I don’t know how I stumbled on to you, but have loved your writing and photos. You opened a whole new world to an old cowboy. Your home looks like a dream. Thank you for showing me a new corner of the world.—sage

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