I like it when our architects come to visit. The last time we saw them we ended up riding waist-deep powder in Limone Piemonte for two days. This time, they went one better (or two better, if you like) and brought a couple of our really good friends from England with them.
I should probably point out that this isn’t all just part of their service. We’re old friends. As far as I’m aware they don’t do this for all their clients (though it would certainly be a good USP, maybe they should consider it…).
So, to celebrate this unexpected reunion we headed a couple of miles up the road to beautiful La Morra.
We wanted to show off a bit of what our new home has to offer but we only really had one afternoon in which to do it. Under normal circumstances, I’d probably opt for a nice bike ride or walk through the vineyards, followed by a spot of wine tasting, but the ground is only just starting to dry out after all the rain we’ve had recently. So instead we went for a stroll around the village, took in the breathtaking views across the hills and then spent the rest of the afternoon “experiencing” some of the Langhe’s famous wine and food.
We did talk about the house a bit, but it was a Sunday after all. The day of rest. So we sat in Vineria San Giorgio and we rested. And ate. And drank. It was the perfect place, its cavern-like interior lined with bottle after bottle of local wine. It’s an Enoteca, or wine shop, so instead of having a wine list, you just wander around and make your choice. It’s a far more enjoyable way to choose wine, and also makes it easier on people (
Ed naming no names) who like to choose wine based on how good the label looks!
When we finally got back to the house, we raided the cantina. The previous owner had an impressive wine collection and she kindly left us a few decent-looking bottles. In the interests of being thorough with the restoration and leaving no stone unturned in our quest to really get to know the house, we thought it best to try a couple.
Strangely, we were getting hungry again by this point, so we popped out to the fantastically-named, and even more fantastically-decorated, Gothic Pizzeria in Novello to pick up a takeaway. It’s good to know that even in the land of Slow Food, you can still get a takeaway pizza from a place that has dragon murals on the wall. That said, pairing a good bottle of Barolo with a chip pizza (chips on pizza is a remarkably common thing in Italy and every time we have a visitor from England they can’t resist trying it!) did seem a bit wrong. But it tasted good, so who cares!
We got down to work, a little fuzzy-headed, on Monday morning. Last time we saw the guys from Alpine Eco, we changed the plans around completely, ruining all the work they had done up to that point, so we had some explaining to do. I spoke as fast as my mind would allow and I think I got my points across. They seemed to understand and if they disagreed, they certainly didn’t let on. They’re still talking to us, so that’s a good sign.
We had arranged for a geometra to come over that afternoon. The geometra is kind of like a surveyor crossed with an engineer. We need one to “Italianize” all our plans (Alpine Eco work across Europe but are based in France, not Italy), deal with some of the local bureaucracy and also to help us find and organise all the tradesmen and other professionals we are going to need.
We met this particular geometra when we first started searching for houses about 18 months ago and liked him instantly. He’s about our age, speaks great English and he’s a skier, so we thought he would probably get on quite well with our architects. And we were right. We had a hugely productive couple of hours walking around the house, talking plans and regulations. Cooperation was flowing freely and we now have a more solid idea of what needs to happen to move forward.
I think what pleased us most was that the geometra complimented us on the house. He seemed genuinely impressed by our purchase. This was a huge relief. We’re not experts. In fact, we’re not even amateurs. We know nothing. We thought we were making a fairly good purchase, but to hear it from someone who actually knows what he’s talking about and who knows a lot about buildings in the area is a great comfort.
So, onwards and upwards. Alpine Eco should be sending through some plans in the next week or so and then we’ll to go to the local Comune to discuss what we want to do. As soon as we have some images, I’ll post them on facebook. See, I’m really getting into this social media lark now…