After our exploratory visit and lunch at IKEA, we headed for our hotel in Ancona. It was on the coast north of the town center, toward the airport. Called the EGO Hotel, it was quite stylish and modern. Being that it’s primarily a business hotel and being a Saturday, we among the few guests so were given a very nice room on the sea side of the hotel. It had a very fancy bathroom with a huge whirlpool tub with a rain shower head above and, of course, a bidet.
Up at 4:00 the next morning, we headed to the airport. Munich first. Then Frankfurt, where I was selected for a security check at the gate. Shoes off, a few questions from a stern official about my luggage, I was cleared. Nine hours later we were at O’Hare and then home.
Now we turn our attention to how we might furnish the house. We had asked Kevin for some ideas of places to go, both to find some older pieces and some new things.
He suggested a couple of options: Maison du Monde for new things and Smile for some older things we might salvage and reuse.
I had visited Maison du Monde on my last trip. I remembered it as a store like HomeGoods in the US. As we visited, I realized I had overrated it. It was more like a World Market, where the quality wasn’t very high. We crossed this off our list.
Next, on to Smile, thinking that maybe we can find that old piece of furniture to use as a ground floor bathroom vanity. On the way, we looked for local antique or used furniture stores online. We didn’t discover any. but we did learn from some articles and forum questions and answers that used furniture may be hard to find in Italy. It seems that most Italians just keep furniture in the family until they decide it’s best used as firewood. This is likely to change with millennials, who seem to want only new things.
After we returned home and did more searching, we did locate a few antique furniture markets held in towns. There’s one in Ascoli Piceno the last weekend of some months and a few other scattered about.
Turning off the main road, surrounded by industrial buildings, we arrive at Smile, which is a junkyard. Crap everywhere inside and out. We took a quick look-see, just in case an interesting old item might be hiding among the old vases, magazines, and pictures. We saw nothing right away and it was too exhausting to even think of digging around. It was closing time, anyway, so it was time to go.
Down 0-2, we figured we should at least get a feel for IKEA. So the next morning we drove toward Ancona and the region’s IKEA for a Saturday morning visit.
I hadn’t been in an IKEA in many years, but it’s still pretty much the same. The setup leads you through the whole store. We did see some items that might work as furniture. Plus, it’s certainly the place to go for housewares.
Toward the end of our journey, we stopped in the cafeteria for Swedish meatballs. It was good to have a little change from Italian food. A few hundred meters more of snaking through kitchen items, we emerged to set off for Ancona and our hotel.
After I had finished my little banking chore, we went to have a coffee, just like any good Italian would. It was about 11am and Anne wanted cappuccino but wondered if it was already too late. (In Italy, it’s really just a beverage for breakfast.) I told her to go ahead. It was ok, since there was no doubt that we weren’t originally from these parts.
Our property is about 25 minutes from where we were in San Ginesio. (Every time Anne asked me how far anything was, it always seems to be 25 minutes.) Away we went, through Colmurano and then off onto the road nearest our house. Just as I was going to make the turn off the paved road, I noticed that I was very low on gas. I certainly had enough for the distance we had to go, but I wondered if I might have a problem getting back up the hill, if all the gas was “downhill” where the gas pump couldn’t get to. So we turned around and went down into the valley to find a gas station.
Now, up the hill and down the other side to the house. Last time we were here, I hesitated at the top of the steep driveway. This time, I did more than hesitate. I didn’t hear or see any work going on, so I thought we might be there alone: bad time to get stuck at the bottom of the hill. I parked and we walked down.
As it turned out, the workmen were there. They were having lunch.
On our last visit, we hadn’t taken the time to take many photos, particularly of the ground floor. So we walked around and took shots of nearly everything on that level. (We decided not to climb the ladder to the top floor, thinking the workers might not want us up there.)
After exhausting the camera angles, we walked back up the hill and set off for lunch.
Having finished three days of decision-making and planning, I had a loose end or two to tie up.
First, we had a short meeting with Giovanna to resolve a couple of building contract questions. While we were there, I had her call Banca Marche in San Ginesio to see if there was someone there would could help me with a little issue.
During my October trip, I opened a checking account to hold some euros and to have automatic payments made to the water and electric companies. As part of that, I was set up for online banking and given a password to log in.
Unfortunately, I waited too long to make my first login. It was after a couple of months when I just wanted to check my balance. The password didn’t work.
I wrote to the bank to get a new password, but I was told I had to do it in person. So my bank visit today was to take care of this little issue.
I was expecting that getting this done would be a long process, but I was wrong. There were no customers waiting and I just had to show my passport and sign a form and I was set.
This time, I was going to log in right away. Now, when I tried, it took the password and I was in. Now to check my balance.
I was asked for another code. Hmm. Then I remembered this little device I’d been given in October and which I had luckily brought with me. It’s a small one-time pin generator and I learned that every time I logged in I needed to generate a new pin and enter it. This is certainly secure, but having to use this device was a pain.
After I returned home, I discovered that there is an iPhone app from Banca Marche that replaces this little device. Now, this whole process seems practical.
Now we’re on the third day of our trip and it’s planned to be a full day with the kitchen and bathroom designer Angelo.
We meet Kevin near the SS77 superstrada for our 30 minute trip to Civitanova Marche, the town on the Adriatic where Angelo has his office. We’re right on time at 9:30.
During our marathon meeting which goes until 7:30, we look at options and make decisions about flooring and the bathrooms. We also spend a little time discussing the general layout of the kitchen.
(We did break up the day a bit with a nice lunch at a restaurant on the sea.)
Anne took a few notes and we took a few pictures as we went, but we should have done more. We relied on Kevin and Angelo to capture and summarize it all, which was fine, except we walked away at the end of the day not clearly remembering everything that was done.
I had to wait until I got the summary from Kevin before I could write this up.
Our goal here is to have flooring that works well with the underfloor heating and to have a little variety in the two floors.
Ground floor: Terra cotta with color variation between tiles and in large and small tiles, laid in a semi-random ordering in a diagonal orientation
Top floor: Long rectangular tiles that look like a grayed wood, laid like a wood floor.
Stairway between floors: Here, Angelo wants to do a third type of color and texture. We were a little reluctant, but we agreed, at least temporarily. (Anne will end up with just two types, I’m sure.)
Exterior – portico and marciapiede around the house: Tiles very similar in color to the ground floor terra cotta tiles, but with a rougher surface and laid in a more regular pattern.
The fixtures and hardware were easy choices. Clean lines in the porcelain, glass, and metal. We spent about 15 minutes of our ten hours on these topics.
Angelo wants to go for a dramatic room here and we like his ideas, for now. I’m sure there will be changes.
Flooring: Angelo wants to use a large-format 80cm x 80cm (32in x 32in) gray tile on both the floors and the walls of the showers.
Walls: These will be in either a large rectangular 90cm x 30cm (36in x 12in) lighter gray tile or intonaco (plaster), depending on location.
Cabinet/vanity: Angelo’s thoughts here run to a custom built-in, in a modern, rectangular style, with the sink sitting on top of the counter rather than being inset. Anne’s not sure about the design and wants more drawers and less open shelving
Ground Floor Bathroom
This bathroom is mostly for powder-room-use, but it can be used as a guest bathroom when guests are using the study across the hall.
Vanity: Key element here is to be an old piece of furniture used as a cabinet/vanity, assuming we can find one. (More on this later.)
Floors: Tiled like rest of ground floor.
Walls: Long rectangular 80cm x 30cm (32in x 12in) gray tiles and intonico.
Top Floor Guest Bathroom
Here we have both a shower and a tub, in case we have any little visitors
Floor: Same as rest of top floor.
Walls: Large rectangular 120cm x 30 cm (48in x 12in) off-white tiles laid vertically and intonico
Vanity: The plan is to have a custom-made vanity piece here, too, that shares the overall design with the one in the master bathroom.
Key design element: The countertop — if we carry through with our decision. We chose a tile printed to look like an old, faded piece. It might be interesting or it might look too phony.
Our discussion here was mostly limited to the design of the island. Angelo had two proposals with different sizes. To do the larger one would mean no dining room table. We chose the smaller option, but with room for some stools.
One other topic was my coveted ice maker. Since ice is important to me but uncommon and in Italy — I didn’t think they even had refrigerators with ice makers — I was holding out for a separate machine. Angelo did show us an option that did have an ice maker, so we may go that way.
Anne had a least a temporary disappointment, too. She had decided she wanted quartzite countertops for their appearance an durability. Angelo said they weren’t done there and had an alternative material that he recommended.
We’ll need to get after the kitchen in a big way next time.
Here are the details of the flooring and bathroom designs.