Sunday, November 16, 2008
We've been planning the next phase of our perpetual renovation project since March of last year. The picture above shows the area we want to renovate. The staircase will lead to a guest room upstairs. The downstairs will be restored into its original function as a wine cellar.
Yadda yadda yadda. Shower here, toilet there, sink over yonder, wine shelves out of iron, or wood, walls out of old brick, endless little decisions finally made, changed, made again.
Tutto va bene.
Until Tuesday. My architect and friend, Mara, took the plans into the Commune di Acqui Terme for the final time, where they looked and said, looks great. Just one problem. The room is not connected to one of the two other structures which has a kitchen.
To which Mara, panicking inside, said the equivalent of what does that have to do with the price of tea in China.
To which they said, you can't have a bedroom floating out there in the middle of a barn without some internal way to get to a kitchen. And no, you can't build a third kitchen in that room. You already have two kitchens on this property! Enough is enough.
Thank you, Acqui Terme. Oh, and thank you for letting us know now, at the end of the approval process, instead of at the beginning!
So, now, plans are being drawn up to connect said part of barn with a glass corridor to the old farmhouse. A totally useless contraption which will cost a lot of money and will be locked most of the time, since I really don't want guests walking into my living room through the new door I have to blast through the 30 inch wall to create. I love my guests but enough is enough.
Which leads me to believe that now I know why so many old houses in Italy seem like nonsensical labarynths. In every crazy hallway I now see another set of plans trying to get through the commune to fulfill some ridiculous requirement. I know of one case where a Piemontese commune refused to let a friend build private quarters into her old barn, which she had completely renovated into a beautiful agriturismo. Plenty of room for the guests, but the commune was not willing to allow her to use 80 square meters of leftover space for an apartment for herself. So her architect applied to see if they would allow the construction of a fitness club in the space. Approved!! So now, the most well furnished fitness club you can imagine is being built. Complete with a living room, bedroom, kitchen and bath. And maybe a treadmill, too.
Small stumbling blocks. Our construction project will commence in thirty days as planned, and life will go on. The process in Italy is not so much just learning what you can and cannot do, but rather about finding out how you can get what you want despite knowing what you cannot do.
A great lesson in improvisational living, that.