We took in our surroundings in the Bar, while we ate and drank, over our very necessary lunch. As I observed in the previous post, the place was busy, no spare tables and the chatter was creating a great atmosphere. A couple of tables away a bunch of men mostly in their 60’s and 70’s were having a tranquil long game of cards while sipping espressos. We were sneaking peeks at them, and the other tables, to see what characters were in this bustling Piemonte town. While they too were sneaking peeks at us, wondering, I’m sure, how we had found this very non-touristy place, fortunately they all seemed content to have us there, giving us little smiles and nods and “buongiorno’s” from the late comers who came in after us, but then each entering customer was saying “buongiorno” to everyone when they entered the bar, from what we saw, and it was lovely not to be excluded from this greeting; what a welcoming town. It was all very civilised and we felt at home…until, that is, one of the men playing cards went off like a firework, he had let out a shout and jumped up from the card table shouting at his fellow players and slammed his cards down fiercely on the table! Red in the face he waved his arms around in the air like a man trying to swat a wasp away and fuming he stormed off out of the bar. The whole place was silent looking at the door that had just swung shut behind the departed man. It was like a scene out of a wild west movie. Then almost within seconds the place started to laugh – only in Italy! Thank goodness for the Italian sense of humour, the table of card players resumed their game with little smiles and the other diners carried on contentedly eating lunch and we acted the part of the nonchalant foreigners like nothing had occurred. I’m guessing that if the place hadn’t acted in such a manner after that outburst we may have started to have second thoughts on the town, instead we were still happy to be there.
We met our first estate agent, Eleanor after lunch, a really lovely agent and I will recommend her to anyone. Eleanor, escorted by her little dog, led us off in car convoy to the first property. Just 10minutes away, she promised. She was correct, there is though a little twist, and turn, to this ten minute drive. We headed up a road off the main road into town and began our ascent, like intrepid explorers waiting for the peak to come into view, but every turn we weaved led us further up and up the hill, the road became narrower, a lot narrower. So it eventually was really just one lane with a pretty much sheer drop, albeit through lots of hill clinging trees, to the bottom of a ravine. We eventually pulled off the ‘road’ into a grassy driveway, and as we pulled up the car we saw Eleanor ahead greeting the vendor, we climbed out and put our happy face on and approached Eleanor who was blocking the sight of the vendor, then as we got to them he was revealed, it was the furious card playing man from the bar! Still red in the face and not a care on him, as he greeted us warmly, if not a little over enthusiastically. He didn’t acknowledge being only 3 metres away from us over lunch so we pretended nothing and with big grins walked with him to the house, a beautiful big two floored stone farmhouse. The view over the landscape this high up was superb, magically set with the warm sunlight. Entering the house we came into a grand reception room with chandelier and large view framing windows, then through to the good size kitchen and bedroom, 1 bedroom. We wondered where the other bedrooms listed were? Then outside to the veranda with pleads of ‘attenzione’, watch out, we crossed a decrepit little landing with wobbly boards into the older part of the farmhouse and the further bedrooms but these hadn’t been lived in for at least 100 years. A big job was needed here. Passing back out to the garden our vendor grabbed a bottle of wine from a box and gave it to us as a present! Where would you get that? Outside we thanked him graciously, after all we might see him again in town during our trip, and he urged us to get in touch with questions, we headed off somewhat relieved to be going, we knew that this was not going to be the house for us, there was far too much to do.
Off in the cars, we were grateful to find ourselves headed back down the lane rather than further up it, thinking we would be off for a few minutes to the next house, one of my favourites, due mainly to the price. But 30 seconds after leaving we pulled into another grassy driveway and there the house was, pretty much one terrace down from the land of the first house. Not a great start, considering the driving conditions. But it looked lovely, just like the pictures and again had a great view, though, as it was lower down there was also a large industrial building in view at the bottom of the valley, a bit of a blip on the view. This house was small, tiny rooms fit for one person really, with the tiniest bathroom ever, this hadn’t been shown in the pictures online. But it had promise, due to the price. We had a look at the terraces, sloping down with overgrown abandon, one after the other and quite difficult, even with hiking boots on, to traverse. But they were good strong looking wide terraces with potential. We left knowing we would return for a second visit.
By now though I was getting excited, as we were off to see my number 1 house! We headed off fortunately right down to the bottom of the single lane road and off towards town again before turning up a wider, proper road, relief flooding my veins, you can’t beat a good normal road. We climbed up again but with ease and then pulled to a halt in the shade of some enormous trees not being able to see the house, we got out and headed down a very overgrown drive to the house. The house in the pictures had looked beautiful and dare I say, lady like, with pretty balconies and creamy yellow painted walls. This though looked a shadow of its former self, now, in fairness, it was actually in a shadow with the sun not kissing it as fervently as the prior houses that day, it was facing the wrong way and had a ginormous hill opposite blocking out the sunlight at this mid-afternoon point. I was sad and I think the house was sad too, because as we entered it the house was dark and rundown, but the worst of it was the sense of despair there, it didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel like a happy house. This feeling was the least of our worries, as we found the only way to get to the bedrooms was via an outdoors stairway, a common feature in this area of Piemonte, as I have seen around the place since. Upstairs we were closer to the road and yes, the mysterious road I had spotted behind the house in the pictures wasn’t the quiet laneway I had hoped for, it was the easy driving main road we had been relieved to drive up on but we didn’t want to hear the thundering trucks and buzzing motorbikes groaning uphill through the bedroom walls, or, as Andrew pessimistically feared, one arriving through the roof of the bedroom one night. The house, my number 1 house, was a goner, we left speedily, my heart sunken and feeling a sense of despair, as we headed back to town and the end of the first day’s viewings, all we had left on the list was a house we had a few questions on and Andrew’s number one choice.
Next chapter in our Piedmont property search
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