THIS OLD HOUSE
We landed yesterday morning in Rome and took the train to Orvieto, arriving just after 10:00 a.m. I loved seeing our neighbors in Benano again, and my Italian teachers will be happy to know that our hard work is paying off: I had actual conversations, simple though they were, with two of my favorite neighbors. I was thrilled. (Complimenti, Alessandra, Mariateresa e Michele!)
My Italian didn’t work quite as well in the meeting with our architect and contractors, but I would have missed half of a conversation in English about the kinds of finishing details we discussed. (For example, I didn’t know the English word for a heavy, two-paneled ground-floor door on the outside of a thick stone wall, but now I know Italians use the term mercantile.)
The work on the house exceeded my expectations. Since I was last here, our amazing and colorful team of contractors built an interior staircase that provides easy access from the first-floor kitchen to the ground-floor terrace, and they opened up a new window in an upstairs bathroom. Permission to cut that window opening in the three-foot stone wall came only after we were able to prove to the authorities that there was historic precedent for it. (We have a photo, which I will post later if I can find it, that shows the outline of a window in the stone wall.) We’ve thus opened a view that was closed off many hundreds of years ago. Seeing it for the first time, it occurred to me that the view from that window probably hasn’t changed a bit in all that time. It still looks out on the same hill, the same forest, and the same fields farmed in the same way, with the same broad plateau beyond.