One of the reasons we were delighted to have Rosi and Adriano on board for the Vergemoli project was the experience they have with restoring a house in Italy. Anyone who has watched Grand Designs will appreciate the many difficulties involved.
In 2002 Rosi and Adriano were on holidays in Bagni di Lucca. The last thing on their minds was buying an old house until they saw 300 year old Villa Talenti. It was a beautiful building perched on the side of a steep hill with commanding views over the river valley and the mountains beyond, and crying out for some love and attention.
If Rosi had realised how much work would be involved she may have resisted the idea. She had visions of cleaning the windows, sweeping the dust from some terracotta tiles and decorating the rooms. It would be 5 years before she would finally clean her own windows and decorate her own space.
The villa consisted of 3 apartments and a large basement all with magnificient views. They began by restoring the smallest apartment so they could live there while they renovated the others. This meant camping in the old building in the meantime. They cooked on a gasring and took showers by filling bottles from a spring which runs under the house.
The roof had to be replaced and this had to be done by a qualified and licensed operator as Italian regulations are very strict. The roof needs to be fixed to the walls to prevent damage if there is an earthquake. Bagni di Lucca is in a low risk area but all care must be taken.
Apart from this Adriano has done most of the work himself with Rosi’s help. As well as an enormous saving of money, there has been a huge sense of satisfaction in completing the job themselves.
The house looked terrible from the outside. It was a patchwork of cracks, bricks, cement, broken windows and bats’ nests. The walls were mostly made from large stones held together with cement that looked like sand, but it was still standing after 300 years.
Inside they were lucky to find original brick floors in most of the rooms. Almost all of the wooden beams in the ceiling were rotten. It was a tedious job removing them to replace them with new chestnut beams, but the result is magnificent.
When they had finished the 1 bedroom apartment they began the 2 bedroom, then the top floor 3 bedroom one and finally, this year, they have completed their own space in the basement. Rosi will have her first Christmas with her own Christmas tree in their beautiful home.
They now rent the three apartments in Villa Talenti to visitors from all over the world. They have never regretted their move from Holland to Bagni di Lucca and love village life. Now that Adriano has work on their home he will tackle the pile of rocks in Vergemoli and Rosi will have more time for her passion for horses and riding in the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.
She has kindly offered to be guest writer to tell of her experiences. Her story follows.