Construction in Italy

 Exterior of Villa Giulia under construction 26 April 2015

Exterior of Villa Giulia under construction 26 April 2015

I have become a student of construction methodiologies over the years.  I watched my current house being built over 25 years ago and have since managed three bathroom renovations.  In my current home, I can feel the back door slam when I am upstairs on the opposite side of the house.  We can clearly hear conversations outside the house through the walls late at night when it is quiet.

Over the years I have found myself wondering up to buildings being constructed in Europe to observe their methods and came away impressed with the solid construction and deliberate process that takes longer than what we are used to in the US.

Now, I have a front row seat.  The villa in Lerici is constructed with poured concrete floors, ceilings, and supports.  The walls - all the walls both interior and exterior are honey-combed bricks that will route electrical and plumbing through them and be finished with a concrete layer.

This construction is meant to last many hundreds of years!

  Interior of Villa Giulia under construction 26 April 2015

Interior of Villa Giulia under construction 26 April 2015

The Kitchen Design

The kitchen has been the most time intensive and the place I have devoted the most energy.  I have some experience designing and thinking about cooking in the kitchen both here in the US and in Italy.  The kitchen designer is located in Genova and had indulged me through many proposals and changes.  My goal has always been to have a highly functional, near professional kitchen.  This requires lots of counter space and cabinet storage.  Here are some of the elements included:

·      Large double sink with garbage disposal (rare in Italy)

·      Built in microwave

·      High quality convection oven (it is a standard size for Italy, but smaller by US standards)      

·      Warming drawer that has a cold setting and is programmable

·      Quiet dishwasher

·      Five-burner gas cooktop

·      Double stacked cabinets to the ceiling (not easily reached, but plenty of storage)

 This is a rough rendering of the kitchen

This is a rough rendering of the kitchen

What To Put On The Floors?

 Huge blocks are sawed with multiple blades into slabs - this takes 8-10 hours

Huge blocks are sawed with multiple blades into slabs - this takes 8-10 hours

Ok, I say, “What are my choices?”  Well there is marble.  Marble? Really, marble?  That will be expensive.  Oh, no that is the least expensive material, Cararra is only 20 minutes away and there are many quarries and fabricators that ship all over the world.

Last week during my whirlwind trip to Lerici, we visited a friend of Giorgio’s who owns a quarry.  We were able to select the marble on-site and also see the process for cutting the blocks and then making the tiles.

For complete disclosure, I should review the entire floor situation.  First and foremost the floor will have radiant heat throughout.  This must be kept in mind when selecting materials.  I have chosen marble for the living/dining area and bathrooms (bagno).  The kitchen will have terra cotta tile. Reluctantly, I decided against marble, because it can stain easily with acids – like lemon, vinegar, and tomato.  Terra Cotta will be fitting as a natural historic material.  The bedrooms, (camera) will have natural bamboo floors. 

 Slabs being cut into tiles

Slabs being cut into tiles

Tiles Italy Style

 Some example tiles from the artist's studio

Some example tiles from the artist's studio

Tiles will be used in the bathrooms (bagno), and for the backsplash in the kitchen.  The exact design, type, and color scheme is still to be decided.  We are working with a local artisan who is a bit eccentric, but very talented.  I have no idea as to the costs until he provides an estimate, but if it is anywhere reasonable we will likely engage him. 

 Gianpiero shows his work to Giorgio

Gianpiero shows his work to Giorgio