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!