Our first morning here and our first chance to see Casa Avventura. Today, we’ll have a chance to evaluate the progress and make some decisions that have been on hold for us to be here in person.
We’ve got two big topics to discuss today. First, there is the land and terrain, specifically the slope, and second, a number of design decisions to make and potential chances to consider.
Since the land and slope is the first thing we see, I’ll write about it first and cover the house-related topics in another post.
Kevin said to meet him at the site at 9am. Not only will this be our first viewing, it will be our first time driving to the property on our own. We set off in our Lancia Ypsilon, a “supermini” class car.
As the site is out in the countryside, there is not really a street address. Fortunately, I had a pretty good sense of where the property is from our previous visits and I had gps coordinates I identified from Google Earth. The only thing I wasn’t sure of was the turn off the SP129, the road from Colmurano to Urbisaglia.
The turnoff was actually easy to identify. We started down the hill on a paved road for about 1km, where the road splits. We went right, down the so-called strada bianca (white road), a fancy name for gravel.
Now it’s about another 1km on this road, down and around. The last 500m or so is the section that was graded for (and paid for by) us. I’d say it’s just in fair shape now, due to the use by construction and earth-moving equipment. Kevin says it will be redone when the house is ready to go.
When we arrive at the end of the road, where our property access/driveway begins, I hesitate. We look down the slope of the last 100m and I can see it’s steep, steeper than I remembered. I’m worried that once down the hill, our little Ypsilon with the 1.2L engine won’t get us back up. I’m also starting to wonder if we haven’t picked too hilly a hillside.
Getting down to the temporary parking area near the house, we look back up the hill. Hmm.
I think we had overlooked the driveway steepness problem because the drawing we had seen of the land profile didn’t include the driveway. It just showed the level in front of the house.
I have written about the house being “in a hole” before, but in person it was easy to see it’s true, at least with the current land shaping.
The “final” parking area is planned to be in front and above the house. Certainly above. Right now it’s about level with the top floor, with a fairly steep slope down to the house.
How can we make this better?
Here to try to sort this out are Kevin, the geometra Jimmy, the general contractor Francisc, and a landscape designer Paula, who we hadn’t met before. We start outlining the problem and possible solutions.
Currently, since the property is triangular, the house is close to property lines on each side. Plus, it’s high up in triangle, leaving little room for parking above. And our access via the driveway is just a narrow strip, which we don’t own, but on which we have the right of access.
One solution might be to buy some land from the adjacent properties, so we have some room to move the steeper slopes away from the house. That would require some land on the south side of the property.
And/or we could buy some land on the uphill/east side, where we might be able to move the parking and let the driveway curve down the hill and be less steep.
We have a meeting set for tomorrow with the farmers who own this adjacent land, so we’ll see if we can make something happen. (We also need to get them to agree to let the electric company build a pole on their land so we can get electricity to the house, not only for us in the longer term but for Francisc and his crew. Right now they are using generators.)
Paula, trying to be optimistic, thinks that there are some ways to make the slope in front of the house not be too much of a problem — maybe even an advantage — through some plantings and stairs, and the the house being low makes the first “reveal” more exciting. Features rather than bugs. I’m not sure I’m buying.
More to come about behind the house.
All photos: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure
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