I drove out to Italy this year for the first time and it was certainly an experience! The vechicle I 'chose' was a clapped out Berlingo van that had difficulties going at over 50 mph so it took 3 days for me to finally arrive in Abruzzo shaken by earth tremors and battered by howling gales !
Spring it was not and it took 10 cold, wet and miserable days for the sun to finally show itself . Then as if to make up for lost time it shoneand shone and shone rocketing temperatures in May up to the high 30's !!
The house seemed to have survived the 'terramoto' of 6th April for which I said a little prayer.Luckily the area around Manoppello escaped the worst of the damage although the church in Lettomanoppello needed extensive repairs
My first job once I'd recovered from the journey was to re point our 2 downstairs brick ceilings.We'd had them sand - blasted last year and much of the pointing had come
out with the blasting
Just before leaving for Italy I'd managed to pull a muscle in my shoulder so I can't say I really enjoyed being stuck up a ladder for 3 weeks filling tiny gaps with lime mortar.
To match the old mortar which was very white and hard; almost pure chalk I mixed in some hydrated lime which makes a white coloured mortar with the sand in a 1:1 ratio.
Unfortunately the sand had got soaked over winter and it was tiresome to say the least sifting it in order to remove any larger pieces.We have no electricity ( more on this later ) so on very wet days it was hard to get enough light to work by
We had got to the stage with the house that we were going to have to put in the cables and pipes for electricity and water.
The bathroom and kitchen had their water supply sorted but not electricity so we had a local guy and his son put in the electrictity tubes through
which the actual wires will run.
Naively we'd not really given much thought to how the work of 'chasing' out the channels would be carried out and had hoped we would be able to clip the cables onto the stone walls before we plastered.The electritian was not used to working in old houses and basically he proceeded to carve ours up taking out massive channels at least 5 times as wide as the tubes! It was terrible to watch!
3 days after he left I'd finished refilliing the chanels.I still have to rebuild one corner of the kitchen that he removed 'by mistake' and I was wishing I knew more Italian swear words to shout in his direction!
I was pleased to see that the wet winter didn't seem to have affected our local wildlife and as soon as the sun came out so did the snakes !
This one was swimmimg in our water butt and had to be rescued.
Butterflies too were numerous and I spotted 2 separate species of Swallowtail butterflies in our garden as well as the usual species of blues and coppersAfter all this
work I did think that I was due one day off so I headed up towards a lovely old town called Caramanico.The town is famous for its Thermal Springs and has, I think been somewhat spoiled by nasty hotel blocks catering for all the health tourists who come here revery year.
Just before you reach Caramanico a newish metal bridge spans a fantastic gorge which its possible to walk along in the direction of Decontra.It makes a perfect walk during the summer as not only is most of it in the shade but its also possible to cool off in the deep pools of the river!
We hoped to be able to finish the work on tiling the bathroom but despite contacting the plumbers weeks ahead they never did turn up to move the shower head and 2 other pipes.No-one who has a house in Italy will be surprised to hear this!
Waiting for plumbers to arrive meant getting on with other jobs and one of these involved filling in the old 1950s fireplace with old bricks and stones. By the end of our stay we had
almost reached the ceiling so hopefully this wall will be ready for plastering in the spring. Using lime plaster means a longer wait between coats so we need patience!