We had whittled the shortlist down to a couple of the Piedmont houses the ‘small house’ with lots of land and the ‘little white house’ with a more moderate amount of land. What to do about it, that was the question. We decided the only course of action that made rational sense, which was to test each house out at different times of the day to see what occurs in the beautiful Langhe Hills region of Piemonte. In Dublin, when we bought our city house, 12 years ago, we spent a lot of time parking outside the house and observing the neighbours, making sure that we weren’t heading to a disaster of some sort, it served us very well. This time, there were no neighbours, we had to make do with listening to the sounds of the day instead. At the ‘small house’ we visited in the afternoon, all was quiet surrounding the house but we did hear a lot of noise from a distant road, winding down the valley, even though we are not talking about a motorway, just the 10, or so, cars an hour, the way that the valley had set itself up, in the distant ice age, was almost basin like and the noise was bouncing off the high wrap around valley behind the house. On the other hand, visiting the ‘little white house’, an hour later, was tranquillity itself and I noticed to my absolute delight the sound of tinkling bells off nearby sheep. When I write in Spain, at the retreat, there are distant goat herds with the same dream like, wind chime, sounds, I had always found this very soothing on my frayed city nerves, how wonderful it was to hear them here.
The next visit was at night, at 10pm, the road up to the ‘small house’ was even more perilous and scary than during the day, on this pitch black night, it was becoming clear, ironically, through our lack of vision of what lay ahead on the road, that this was starting to look like house number 2 on the list. Arriving outside the house we stood looking out over the valley, beautiful though it was for 99% of that wonderful view, there was though, at the bottom of the valley, a factory, all lit up, like one of those city 5 aside football pitches at night, with big industrial lights taking away from the darkness of the hills. There was, however, something more disturbing emanating from the factory and it was an industrial buzzing sound, very clearly audible and at a tone that was not restful in any way, it was very strange indeed, as in this Langhe Hills town we had found the regular 8-7pm activity of a working town and this sound was at 10pm. It wasn’t going to work for us. House number 2 took a dive to house ‘no way’, it was struck off the list. We drove on to the only house left on the list, the ‘little white house’. Standing there on the veranda looking out at the majestic shadows of the sleeping giant hills, all we could hear was nothing mechanical, or industrial, just little chirping night crickets and the only movements were little bats, flitting here and there, amongst a very deep, restful, peace.
The next morning, we jumped out of bed early for the final test of the ‘little white house’, making it there for rush hour, 8am, driving up to the house gave the answer of the test away, we had only passed one car on the drive up the 5 km winding road. Rush hour, this was not. Arriving, the sun hadn’t quite popped its head over the Eastern, tall, fir trees and the place was dusted in an almost pale violet glow, as it waited expectantly for the sun’s warming rays to give it some welcome, November, golden heat. The sheep were tinkling along, on their morning munch of the land. The road was empty. We headed tentatively into the house, the door still very much unlocked, as Giovanni had promised it would be, though we still felt like trespassers, even with his kind invite to view, as often as we like, we crept in quietly, and had a last look around. We were both quiet, taking in each room carefully and both nervous of each other, we both wanted to buy this house, yet we hadn’t said this out loud yet, or confirmed it. We went outside took one last look at the view, soaking it all in, both of us making unsaid wishes that this view would become common place to us. Then Andrew broke the nervous mood by giving one of the portico pillars a big hug! We both laughed and I joined in the hug, saying very clearly,” Don’t worry ‘little house’ we will be back soon”, with little tears of joy in my eyes, we got on the phone to the estate agents in Acqui Terme.
Next see if we get the house.
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