The house of our dreams what a perfect location031

It is a very old farmhouse set in the Tiglione Valley at the foot of a beautiful vineyard which adorns the hillside that curves like an amphitheatre.

The house faces south southwest and is surrounded by four acres of gently rolling meadow. All the front windows look out across the valley towards the hillside with the old village of Cortiglione perched high on the crest.vendemia 2015 055



The rear opens out onto the meadow and the vineyard beyond.autumn in piemonte 001

The property is situated on a small lane a hundred metres from the Asti to Alessandria road. It has a bus stop handily situated at the lane junction.  There are many houses close by with enough distance away to give us privacy but close enough to be neighbourly.the big freeze 009           Italy 195029

The Village of Belveglio is about 3/4 kilometre away, it nestles in the valley looking out towards the Maritime Alps. It has a bar ,a shop, a Pizzeria and all other necessary amenities.

Our main town Nizza, is exactly a nine minute drive from our gate to the gelateria ( ice cream shop).

If we want more sophistication  Asti is 20 minutes drive and Aqui Terme is 30 minutes.

The location is perfect!!            but ………………………………………………………………….

there was a big compromise  – the state of the house , it was a problem, it was a disaster!

OH,  was so in love with it that he was confident that we could overcome all, me I am not so optimistic and can’t deny having many sleepless nights of worry.

I could see huge amounts of money required and having used all spare cash to purchase the property we had little left in the coffers to renovate.

A year followed during which we sold our business at the height of the recession hence at a  reduced price which again lessened the pot.

We literally sold everything we had all the niceties of our other life including OH’s baby the Porsche.  We left behind the designer clothes , the exotic holidays etc etc. This was all in our past life.

We got into the van that day for a new start it takes a lot of guts  –  or just sheer madness.

Yes we jumped off the treadmill but landed on a roller coaster

Our farmhouse was huge, at the beginning people used to ask me how many rooms it had – to be honest I never counted. I just used to say it’s big!!!!Italy 106

The downstairs had six rooms to the front with two staircases leading to the upper floors. belveglio 038

At the rear there was a cantina flanked on each side with large open barns. Upstairs there were six more rooms and two bathrooms and on each end there was another large barn  area. belveglio 063belveglio 071

There was also  a third level which ran the whole length of the house and was an enormous space with the floor all at different levels.                                           .Italy 140

Each gable end had a porticoe and some outbuildings which housed old toilets and a couple of chickens. We later found that they belonged to our elderly neighbour Antonio.belveglio 060

At first I got lost going up and down the wrong staircase and I admit that on occasions I still do this. Only to find myself wondering where the hell I am.

It had been built into the hillside behind and over the years the soil had worked its way down settling on the rear wall. Thus causing much distortion and dampness.belveglio 067

The roof OMG!!! described to us as needing only minor repairs that should have cost us around 12,000 euros.

We found it was held up with old carpet cardboard inners and wooden posts.belveglio 079 We could see the daylight through many of the old terracotta tiles and there was one large gaping hole through which rain tumbled in during heavy downpours. The water trickled down the electric wires into the bedroom below damaging the ceiling and making everything damp.Italy 111

We shared the attic space with a little owl, a family of bats and four resident feral cats. That was what we knew of – –   how many rodents you can only guess?

The house was actually split into two separate units both having a kitchen downstairs and a staircase leading to bedrooms above. Both houses were practically a mirror image of the other. It was hundreds of years old with numerous additions through the years all done in contadini (farmers ) style  with very little money spent and no consideration to building regulations.

On our first viewing it was difficult to see the insides because they were full of old furniture and rubbish., There was very little light available so i had to rely on  the camera to give us a full view of what the rooms entailed. Even the barns still had all the hay for the animals which was well over half a metre deep.Italy 134

Thankfully the owners cleared away the old furniture and most of the rubbish inside, I do believe they had a large bonfire. However the old hay and maize was left for us.


We decided to make a list of necessities to ensure we could survive

dry clean rooms,   electricity,     water,    heat,     bed,     cooking facilities,     phone line and a washing machine.

Our first priority was to the roof we placed plastic sheeting and numerous buckets to catch the rainfall and OH found another couple of posts which made handy props just in case the winter snow proved too heavy for the old rickety tiles.

We ear marked two rooms and a bathroom on the first floor in an area where the roof did not leak .They all had unbroken windows that actually closed and locked. This we decided would  be our living accomodation during the renovations for perhaps a year but things never go to plan and in the end we stayed there for over two.

I set about cleaning, I bleached everything once, twice, thrice ………. . The bathroom which was to the rear had an old water boiler which amazingly still worked and even better there were connections for a washing machine. Incidently it is common practice in Italy to have washing machines in the bathroom.  A local electrician checked out the safety aspects not perhaps to the law!!! but thankfully there is only 3 kilowatts of power entering the house . An electric kettle and hairdryer on together were simply out of the question.

Thankfully the water was clean and piped from the mains. There was a sewage system of types which we later found that some of the  pipes had fractured but I must admit for a while I did have the biggest tomatoes in the area!!!!

Before we left Britain I went on my now favourite site Preloved and found a little wood burner for sale in our local area. We purchased it for a hundred pounds and what a life saver that turned out to be. Not just for heat but a cooking facility too.

So by the following May eighteen months after purchase we had hot and cold water, a possibility of heat, cleanliness and areas to make a kitchen.lucy in italy 029

We were so excited all was now ready for the big move and we could only think of that wonderful summer ahead of us.







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