The home base for Our Big Italian Adventure is Casa Avventura, the house we are building in the Le Marche region of Italy. At the left is a recent photo of the exterior, which is nearly finished. The whole house will be complete in early 2018.
The posts below give the most recent construction news. For an overview of the whole project, look at Read from the Beginning. Please feel free to leave comments or to contact us.
Now that most of the heavy work is complete, it’s time to consider resurfacing the access road and driveway. We don’t have to do this; many country houses like ours are reached only by a rough gravel road. It’s so common that these roads have a name: strada bianca, or white road.
We’d like to do a better road for a couple of reasons: we’d like to reduce erosion as much as we can, we want to sure there is good traction for the uphill climb, and we’d like it to look nice.
Overall, we’re probably looking at redoing 500 meters or so of road surface: 50 meters for the driveway and the rest for the access road that connects us to the nearest house and road.
Kevin presented two options for the access road and driveway: reinforced concrete or compacted red gravel.
Both of these options include a couple of important elements: concrete borders, or curbs, to strengthen and maintain the edges of the road, and drainage channels to move the water away.
We thought both options would look nice, with the red gravel probably having the edge. Conversely, the concrete would require less — essentially no — maintenance and would provide better traction.
While we were pondering, Kevin proposed, and then a few hours later withdrew, an idea to combine the two surfaces, using concrete at the places where traction is critical and doing the rest in compacted gravel.
Given my concern with the slope, I was leaning toward concrete. However, it would be about 50% more expensive that gravel. Figuring we could redo it in concrete if we decided with experience that we needed the traction, we decided to go with the compacted red gravel.
Since the property is shaped like a triangle, with the narrow angle being up the hill above the house, we’re a little cramped on parking area, and just as important, in the turning area to get faced uphill. Francisc noted that as the earthmoving has developed, we were left with a bit of “dead space” adjacent to the parking area. He suggested that we use it to provide some breathing room.
Using the area this way means we need to extend the parking area retaining wall toward the south side of the property. The work comes with a price tag, of course, but it seems like a worthwhile investment.
It requires the wall extension and then more backfill.In the end we will be left with a much better turning area and a chance to get a straight shot going uphill.
Also, as part of this work, they have started to face the retaining wall with stone and to put some topsoil over the terra armata.
Here are a lot more pictures of this work, which extended over several days.
In my mind, I keep coming back to the issue of access to the property. Just like with the drainage issue, my concern is caused by the hillside the house is built on. Plus, we don’t own the land that the access road — or even the driveway — is on. This further limits our options.
To be precise, the problem isn’t really getting to the house; it’s leaving that is the problem.
Here’s an overhead view of the shape of the last half-kilometer or so of the access. There are two sharp turns: at the top of the driveway, turn A is a bit over 90 degrees and the subsequent turn B is just a tad less severe.
Now a look from the side, showing the slopes of the sections. (This slope drawing is rough; I’m sure I’ve made the sections steeper than they really are, but I think it illustrates the problem.)
The problem at A is that it follows an upslope, meaning you have to keep your speed as you enter the turn, making the sharp turn problematic. The problem at B is that it precedes a steep section, meaning you have to keep you speed up through the turn — and hope no one is coming the other way, as the corner is blind, to boot.
I’d really like to reshape these corners a little.
When I raised this issue with Kevin, I knew what he’d say: we don’t own the land, so we’re very limited in what we can do.
He also noted that rarely will anyone but us and guests be using this road, so the blind corner shouldn’t be an issue.
Given our hillside location, we’re concerned that in a heavy rain water might pour down the slope until it ended up inside our house. A few weeks ago, I raised this issue with Kevin. He said Francisc had some drainage planned, but I asked them to beef it up.
The trench digging and gravel and pipe work has been going on over the last few days. These trenches are designed to carry the water around to the sides of the house.
It looks like they are covering the gravel with a landscape fabric of some type.
On top of the gravel and fabric, I think they’re going to place the topsoil.
Seeing all this in place makes me a lot less concerned about a flood.