The idea of buying an old rustic home or ruin in Tuscany is not a unique one. It's practically a cliche, just one of the many "dreams" talked about by your average American further spread by movies and books like Under The Tuscan Sun. I swear I am almost sick of people telling me that we are living the dream. Jeremy and I have spent most of the life we have shared together living one "dream" or another. We are the quintessential romantics and our life is romantic, but it hasn't transcended into a different plane of existence and living the dream is not always what it is cracked up to be. When you hop as many fences as we do, you get a very clear understanding of the concept "the grass is always greener on the other side". Like the lives lived by all Americans our dreams are fraught with set backs, disasters, and all out WTF. Every dream truly experienced instead of just dreamed about is. Don't get me wrong. Our property is beautiful and I don't regret our decision, but if you consider following a dream you should know that this is not easy.
Lets just ignore all the difficulty with buying the property and head straight to reality of the renovation. There is an unbelievable amount of magic in an old Tuscan home. The feeling that this structure has seen lifetimes go by is a real and palpable sensation. Anyone who has traveled to older nations than ours has felt this staring at some stunning piece of architecture. Our perspective of what is old changes when we step outside our country. We may be a super power, but in terms of years our country is barely out of childhood. There is a lure in different and old is different to us. The rest I think is the charm of real products. We are surrounded by synthetic everything, faux wood, faux marble, and faux tile. Renovating an old home means a structure with real bones. Stone walls, chestnuts beams and terra cotta floors like the fairytale cottages in a childhood book. Not to mention the obvious lure of being surrounded by rolling hillsides, lush vineyards, medieval villages and castles. We were thus swept away and a good thing we were or else would have quit long ago.
There is an unfortunate amount of practicality in all the fake stuff. Cheap, easy to find and created for its purpose. One of the first hurdles we came across after our purchase is dealing with the fact that stone walls are not exactly well insulated. We've debated for months on ways to better insulate the house without losing the beautiful stone walls we were so attracted to and still have not found the answer. We hope a meeting with a local architect will shed some light on the situation.
A second hurdle came in the form of our chestnut beams. In preparation for our arrival to our new home Jeremy and I decided to have the house sprayed for bugs and professionally cleaned. Our land had been abandoned for over 3 years and when we last saw it, it was covered in spider webs and we had to step over a half dead scorpion on the way through the front door. Needless to say, it took some imagination the day we first viewed our Tuscan home to see its potential. However, setting this up was much more than we bargained for. A never ending conversation with the cleaning company began via our incredibly helpful Milanese friend, Marco. We answered endless questions regarding adding this service or that option. While the estimates climbed in price. The process was further complicated by the discovery that our lovely chestnut beams had acquired wood worms. The delay caused by properly treating the wood would mean weeks of living in hotels while waiting for the house to be livable, not to mention a bigger price tag. And so our Italian adventure begins. Stay tuned for more stories.