Category Archives: house renovations

So, you decided to move to Italy…

I just put up a page, accessible from the top navigation, with a summary of information about moving and living in Italy. It is called “So you’ve decided to move to Italy”. I will constantly update it with things I learn that I think will be useful. Go to the page here.

A few more pictures

I went for a walk this evening. It is really warm here. Very much indian summer if that’s possible here.

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I explored a couple of roads near the river and found an amazing feral cat shelter and feeding station. They have built little houses for them and hung tarps over them and the feeding station to keep them dry. So cute. I am guessing they are not being neutered unfortunately.

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On the way back I ran into Manuele. I forgot to mention I decided to go ahead and buy my living room carpets didn’t I? I ordered them online last Friday. I had found them a month or so ago and really loved them. Then when I went back one of them was sold. These are hand made in Iran so one of a kind. I was sorry to lose the one yellow one I had picked out so thought I should go ahead and buy them. I chose brightly colored ones with a good nap because the sofa is beige and the walls will be white so I wanted some bright colors. Here are a couple of pictures of similar carpets from the website. The rectangular one is for under the dining room table and the square one will go in front of the sofa.

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Shopping online here is not quite the same as in the US. I have used both Amazon.it and Amazon.co.uk. The one in the UK is more like ours in the states. But I have used both. Using the Italian one has the advantage to be a language lesson as well 🙂

Anyway, Manuele told me two big boxes had arrived – Yay! I don’t know if I mentioned we have all our packages sent to his address. Someone is always there to receive them. He told me that Jimmy (the animal) would bring them over tomorrow. He is called that because he is very strong. So I am excited to get them.

I headed over to the apartment next to see what has been done. After two days there weren’t many more changes. It looks like they are working mainly on the electricity. They are moving and adding outlets and running wires up to the ceiling through the walls for the overhead lights. I didn’t bother to take pictures of that. Boring.

This is the finished hallway ceiling that was uncovered at the end of which is the finished new stairway moved from the kitchen.

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This is from inside the pantry looking toward the door to the kitchen. I am very happy with this new space. I also ordered some wine racks to install in it. Should get them in the next 3 days from Amazon.

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Kitchen floor.

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I went out on the terrace for the first time. I love it.

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Ordering the kitchen

Last night I phoned USAA, our bank in the US to have them wire €10,000 to the kitchen people. This is a 50% deposit. We signed the contract and emailed it back. Turns out the contract had been sent to Emanuele a whole week ago and we never got a copy! Too bad but I hope the delay is not going to affect things too much.

Kitchens in Italy, and all of Europe for that matter, are kind of like kits. You buy the whole thing, they assemble it and get all the appliances and then the whole thing comes and is installed in one day. Really! Of course the prep work has to be done beforehand. This explains why Europeans generally take their kitchens with them when they move. When you look at an Italian apartment most of the time there are just pipes sticking out of the tiled walls and outlets along where the cabinets were/will be.

Emanuele will be doing the electrical and plumbing work to include moving the gas, water and drainage. The old kitchen will be removed. Then he will prep and tile the floors in the kitchen and the pantry. They will then do the tiling on the patio and the built-in seating and the new gutters and repainting the railings. This should all get done before the kitchen comes.

On a more fun note, it is Saturday today and we planned a trip to Pietralunga which is a hill town up in the mountains past Montone which is the close hill town to us. They are having an exhibition of paintings from the artists in residence at Civitella Ranieri near us. After that we will have lunch either in town or out at an agriturismo I found. We invited Susan and Gary to join us.

I will report back after our adventure.

What Emanuele found out from Elisabetta

Emanuele talked to Elisabetta today. Here is what he found out:

  • The leak in the living room, she knew about but never did anything about because it only happens when it rains a lot.
  • The leak in the bedroom from the shower next door. She only knew about when she moved the bed to move out and thinks it only happens because her son takes long showers (!)
  • The leak in the hall happened when she was at her summer place from the hot water heater. She fixed the heater but not the damage from the leak.
  • There are 2 attics. One has the furnace and water heater. The other is a very large space but Elisabetta had never, ever in all the time she lived there gone up there. Even when her son told her there were pigeons walking on his ceiling! Well yes we did find out there had been a LOT of pigeons up there and the window had been left open for who knows how many years! Maybe she thought if she didn’t go up there it wasn’t happening?
  • She never used the fireplace but said the person she bought the place from said it worked. She said we may want to have the flue cleaned.
  • So there we have it. Emanuele will bring his contractor friend over to take a look and we’ll know more then.

    Meeting the Geometra

    Since we arrived we dined at our basic but very Umbrian hotel restaurant on our first night. On the second day we dined on Proscuitto and melone for lunch – so sweet and salty. Yum. Thank you Susan! Susan left our frig nicely stocked and we are so grateful. That evening we dined on yet another amazing gift from Susan and Gary – an enormous truffle! I made fettuccine and we grated it on along with a mozzarella salad with very sweet tomatoes. So good! we had taken a run to the wine store we like and had some fine wines and then Luther went out into the Piazza which was buzzing with activity to smoke his cigar. The men playing cards and all around tables of things for sale, kind of a flea market.

    Rocky and Simba are getting used to all the noises of the apartment. Here is Rocky keeping watch on the Piazza which he seems to enjoy. The second picture is Rocky with the ornate bell in the background.

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    Today, Friday June 27 – two days since we arrived we met the geometra (kind of a cross between a general contractor and architect) of Susan and Gary. He and they had already visited the apartment. His name is Emanuele and he noted many things that we did not. The conversations were kind of a mish-mash of English and Italian. Luther and Susan were pretty good with the understanding of it all, I also understood a good bit of the Italian happily. There was a lot of back and forth about all the logistics of moving the kitchen. Also water damage which could have been from before the roof was repaired but must be looked into. There is also a bit of structural work that needs to be done to stabilize the roof. Emanuele says that cost should be shared between the owners of the apartments in the building but I am guessing that will not happen. There are no condominium fees here it is rather an informal agreement among the owners. In our building there is nothing set up to take care of issues like this. So we shall see how that all shakes out.

    We discussed the moving of the kitchen. Emanuele wanted it to be in a different room than I wanted it to be in for logistical reasons like running the gas and drains. I am pretty hard over that I want it to be moved to the room with the fireplace next to the current kitchen. We are going forward with that. The fireplace needs to be checked to see if it will draw. Evidently it has not been used in years. Our Geometra will check with our previous owner about water damage in the house and when it happened. They repaired the roof nine years ago so the damage could have been prior to then.

    There is also a concept I learned about today called Zona di Notte or night zone. Our geometra is very concerned about us not having one. Evidently the Italians don’t want cooking smells getting into the sleeping area so install a door to separate the spaces. Well that never would have occurred to an American! But I think I am OK with a door being installed in the hallway but only because it would be handy to separate the cats from the kitchen/living room area should we need work done. Of course I will not tell Emanuele that!

    I feel pretty positive about the progress we have made. We have a couple of “action items” that we need to do for Emanuele. He in turn has some as well like talking to Elisabetta about when the water damage happened and what they did about it. We will probably stay in this apartment until all the work is done. We will proceed with purchasing what we need to live there and having it delivered.