Colours, textures of Codiponte…

Continuation of the Italian Shack Architecture post of late… lessons in a Lunigiana colour sense which, and this will not surprise, I find very elegant, modern, cool even…

green paint faded by constant rain and sun and with a healthy growth of moss… IMG_20150317_092655

raw siena slapped on metal siding…
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concrete on the New Bridge. Gads? Perhaps.

Inspirations…

A Blog Fan stopped by Il Poggiolo. She wanted to get a look at that blue. Once surrounded by Our Blue-blue-blue, her reaction was Sure IS blue. I said Yep. And that Yellow in the Kitchen? You says it attacks bugs. Oh, Look! He’s right. They’re so many on the ceiling. Do they bite? No, only hoping for any residual when I deem to cook. You’re so funny! May I see the Sage-green too?  Sure. Don’t disturb the bugs. Well, before I go may I ask what was your inspiration? Oh, just some books. The tour ended. I make a terrible salesman for the fruits of My Labours.

Alone and a bit morally bereft, I thought back to Inspiration. You & I had collected quite a library of books, mostly, on architecture, renovation, stone houses, decorating, accessorising, stuffing a house in the country, even before we had laid eyes on Il Poggiolo.

You would come home from some conference, say in Paris, where he had found and bought a magnificent coffee table book Living in ArgentinaArgentine interiorsBegged the question What does Argentina have to do with an Italian farm-house? No reply other than Take a look. I’ve put post-its on what I like. Don’t mix them up, please. I loved every single page!!!

Perhaps, in a bid for retaliation, I’d  surf  amazon.com’s website late at night seeking some super delicious big picture book on what all one can do with stone and 10-14 days later arrived on Our Doorstep in Genoa, New Stone Architecture. New Stone ArchitectureThe thing costs a bloody fortune today. Nearly $1,000!!! Used too. Not when I had bought it though in 2004. My turn with the post-its. Mine were day-glo pink.

And, a friend lugged from NYC a book she thought You & I might like. Axel Vervoordt: Timeless Interiors. Axel Vervoordt Timeless InteriorsIt was a birthday gift for me. I have to say, I am an unstinting fan of Belgium design. To see wide oak planks oiled to a weird greyedgold forces me to take an extra heart-medication as I flip through the book’s enormous pages.

None of what can be seen in these publications has arrived copied per se at Il Poggiolo. Don’t think that’s the point. Inspiration does not mean to copy. It’s more the shot of permission for you to go out there and through the process of discovery create something your own. On that score, Living in Argentina, New Stone Architecture and Timeless Interiors did the trick and marvellously too. And, you have the proper answer now to that Fan’s querie. Gads.

http://www.amazon.com    http://www.amazon.it    http://www.amazon.co.uk

 

A new addition to Our Complex…

There is nothing so dangerous as a store catalogue in You’s hands. The fine folk at IPER-COOP sent the darn thing for their summer kick-off… lawn chairs, sun-bathing chaises, picnic suits of wood tables & chairs… Oh! boy!!!… swimming-pool toys and several gazebos of various shapes & sizes. The 20 page paper flyer was actually address to me but, You stole it out of My Letter Box up in Genoa. Once he set his eye-surgeon eyes on the biggest of the lot, his heart was won. He just had to have it. I thought differently and am suffering mental & psycho-exhaustion for it. I managed to block for two months any idea of driving an hour to Sarzana’s IPER-COOP to buy the thing. Then, during You’s Five-Day Sojourn to Codiponte last weekend, I lamely suggested we might go to Sarzana for some shopping, intimating a possible look-see as the Gazebo of You’s Heart. We made it to the IPER-COOP and, rounding the corner of the Housewares Dept. there stood this cathedral-like gazebo. My heart stopped. Then, it revived and long enough for me to stutter out a No and I left. The next 24 hours were HELL!!! You and his bonnet’s burr made me black & blue from his endless rational for that Milano Duomo gazebo. I won’t bore you with the list. It’s long. I awoke the next day and said… so even The Dogs would understand… Let’s go buy that gazebo. BOOM!!! Dott. You was dressed, perfumed, shoed and had the AUDI”s keys dangling in his hand to hit the road to Sarzana. We are now the proud owners of this new addition to Our Complex… this is now the view our the Kitchen window…
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and, here is your-nose’s in it view…

 

 

 

 

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But my favorite is how well the gazebo functions to dry laundry when it rains. I’m sold!!! Gads.

 

 

 

End-iron Christmas…

Christmas has come & gone. The Shut-down is over. Time to post again and guess what?

IMG_4081Remember these? You’s recently published flea-market find of miniature end-irons. Happily purchased in a junque-store in the Udinese hinterland… or, the back-of-beyond outside Udine, Italy. You had expressed the half-cocked idea of using them for Our Christmas Table Decor. I graciously kept My Mouth shut. If you have been anxiously awaiting what he dreamt up for the buffet table, take a gander at these views…

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Leaving aside questions of aesthetics or taste, though it pains me to do so, I can report that You’s Yuletide Mission was accomplished… none of his 20 family members noticed what was was holding the lone myrtle branch on top of cinnamon logs tied with a Xmas bow, while squirrels nibbled about and to avoid the red & white Xmas balls, was, in fact, a pair of rusty end-irons. How about that praying hands candle? Gads.

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TUB! Christmas…

IMG_4081Don’t be alarmed. Nothing to do with torture. Not yet, at least. They do resemble bizarre crucifixes though. Must have been torture for Jesus. Gosh! Someone has got a birthday coming up. Those pictured items are only mini-fireplace end-irons. You found them at a mercatino… or, flea-market in Udine. Paid the whopping price of 2 Euros. TUB! applauds these sorts of inexpensive Euro investments. The tucked-away emporium was a NEW! find too. And apparently, ’twas a mother lode. You’s AUDI was jammed, jammed, jammed packed full of Goodies. Even the top of the passenger’s side of the dashboard had some Gs. Felt & looked like Christmas. I am a little amazed, being so encumbered & all, why You was not stopped by the Carabinieri for suspicion of thievery, in light of on-going events… the thieves are still loose & very much active throughout the entire Lunigiana. Il Popolo non e’ contento.

As Mr. Sunhsine crossed the December sky, You spent all of the Saturday afternoon unloading, lugging & unwrapping The NEW! NEW!! NEW!!! Goodies. Even past sundown. I was trying to bring closure with Il Poggiolo for My Return to Life in Genoa by cleaning & straightening. You made a mess. The result of being over-joyed. When in such a State of Ecstasy, he sings under his breath with a pseudo-baritone voice. You really is way too short for that but, I keep my mouth shut. The tactic, however, covers the tracks of his Joy. A private affair. By the time You had brought out a hand-painted jardinière of frolicking maidens twirling garlands into the real dim 5 o’clock light seeping into the Sala da Pranzo from the Cucina’s window, he was belting out Verdi! And, his singing never faltered, whether for a waist-high mock-malachite marble pedestal, a tall brass floor-lamp with a pergamena shade showing quaint scenes of an olives harvest… so delightfully apropos to the labors of the real olive harvest up on the slopes above Codiponte’s Commie Apt. House… a 1930s rattan recliner with a printed cotton mezzeri cushion, two large & furry badger pelts and… and… and well, a lot more Goodies.

Part of the haul were the pair of these end-irons. It’s going to be a TUB! Christmas this year! Hang onto your Santa hats & Elf caps… You has had a Happy Holiday idea. He wants to use the end-irons as table decorations for Our Christmas Day Family Dinner on the 25th. Just what exactly he has in mind has yet to be announced. While he cogitates, let me give some possible TUB! Christmas decoration ideas… however, since I have not had a moment free upon My Return to Genoa to descend down to Level -1 and forage around in You’s storage locker to pull out what there is in the way of Christmas decorations, I will have to give you brief written descriptions…

a) the Christmas Minimalist Concept might be placing the end-irons in such a way as to balance a HUGE Red Christmas ornament between them. The enormous orb was a gift from a grateful patient several years back. This will save us both from attempting to dangle the darn thing from the Foyer’s chandelier and TUB! is delighted by using what’s on hand too... b) boughs of alloro… or, bay leaf branches, again, intertwined to make a Yule-tide basket between the two irons to hold either the traditional clementines & chocolates or a motley array of Christmas ornaments… and c) string micro-mini-ultra-small LED in red, green & silver to link the two end-irons from either end of Our Dining Room Table AND, for the Christmas piece de la resistance, a tiny Santa Klaus might tip-toe across. This is very big in Italy… the Santa, no the LED. I can already hear Our Halls… i.e. Our Open-space Loft walls reverberate with My Call… WATCH OUT FOR THE CORD, EVERYONE!!!

Anyway, I think these TUB! ideas beats Martha Stewart by hundreds of… kilometers. Do you think she would know an end-iron if one were to bite her? Who cares? We are on Our Way to a TUB! Christmas.

Stay tuned for more! 

 

 

 

Life-style, dammit…

Moses woke me up last night. I thought it was robbers. Why a robber would whine outside My Bedroom Door just demonstrates how shot My Nerves are. Moses was acting a Spokes-dog. He & Nina needed to commune with Nature. Urgently. Fine. While waiting for them to do so, I hit the laptop. Surfed the Internet. Hit a few fayeshion sites and ran into Gwyneth and her Goop. Would it matter much if she were to spell her name… Gwenyth? Seems a proper spelling from the root Gwen. A Welshman might rebel. Probably to be avoided. As for her goo… is that the plural for goop or, are we already in a transitive verb territory?… perhaps, the “p” and the double “o” is the better option. Graphic. And, Goup, Goupe, Glop, Gloop might confound the Search Engines and I know Gwyneth wouldn’t want that. She’s got stuff to say, things to sell and a staff to pay. How else could she post daily? My Nerves went into a pre-caffe’-at-5-in-the-morning overdrive. Provoked, I skidded into a debate with myself since, there were no Dott. You or Dogs around… I may be forced to come up with My Own Life-style blog. I’m toying with calling it… TUB. And, here already is The Iconic Photo…

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I feel a tub represents an appropriate life-style of conservation… recycling… respect for nature… the gardening angle, eh?… and it probably will never fly. How can saving greasy dish water to douse thirsty summer dried hydrangeas, for instance, ever be chic? Or, fayeshionable? It’s a problem. I may need that staff to solve it. Ugh.

In the meantime, I have put together a possible product list. Here are a few items of TUB Garments & Accessories…

    A lovely range of TUB house-coats reworked from old floral dish-rags… bio-treated to be water AND bug repellent… and just perfect to wear around the garden snipping roses before the neighbors notice you are up…

    TUB stilts cuts from old house beams… or do I mean girders?… and envisioned for tours around the garden with very your own You… not included… and not get your little footsies muddy…
    A full range of fun refrigerator magnets with… of course… TUBS... and stuff… to show your concern for recycling though, frankly, if we could rid ourselves of the need to package things, the garbage man might be eliminated…
    A super buff tool hook for applying to some shabby pair of Levi’s… ideal for hanging your TUB-style mini-hoe… yet to be designed… or a TUB-style smart phone…
    A very practical sun-bonnet… please note: the protective flap or mud guard. We try to think of everything at TUB.
Gosh, there’s so much to organize. This could be a launch. How about it? Do you think the World… Gwyneth included… is ready for TUB? Now, if you will excuse, I must pen a note to Michelle Obama asking for an endorsement. Gads.

 

 

 

 

 

Physical proof…

IMG_3954One of the shards given to me by The Sweet Couple as an example of the demolished wall-stencils from their house just off the Piazza Civico in Codiponte. Pretty, no? If you study the two blues in the Fleur de lis design, the darker of the two is nearly on the same street as Our Blue-blue in La Casa Grande. Gads.

Going, going, gone…

On September 7, 1920, there was an earthquake which was centered in the Garfagnana region, the Colorado-like mountainous area sharing the northwest corner of Tuscany with the Lunigiana. The extent of destruction was immense… from the Big City of Aulla past all the towns & villages climbing along the Aulella River Valley to the Carpinelli Pass and all of the towns & villages of the Garfagnana to nearly Lucca. Much of Codiponte was destroyed. Il Poggiolo was a different looking farm-house on evening of September 6th… for instance, there was a high stone wall surrounding what was the vineyard, the Loggia and the terrace to L’Appartamento Azzurro were rooms of La Casa Grande, there were many more windows on the vineyard-side of the house and a good bit of Il Poggiolo was stucco-ed. We know because we have photocopies of photographs taken in 1916 of Il Poggiolo. All gone after 5:55AM on September 7th.

Most folk had little money to re-build. Earthquake chains were a known item, and at the time, any old iron forge could make & install them fairly cheaply. Roof cordoli, sub-floorings, low-center-of-gravity bricks or picking & re-stucco-ing the stone walls of a house were either too expensive or yet-to-be-specified. Most just patched up walls, dismantled & modified sections of houses & out-buildings and what was not tumble-down piles of rubble was re-plastered & painted, as quickly and as inexpensively as possible to erase the traces of the tragedy. The tell-tale signs of structural damage from the earthquake were often ignored… covered-over & forgotten.

I used to be an interior designer. I even taught it. One item of My Personal Design Philosophy with which I tried to inspire clients & students alike was this… often, humble means can bear more creative fruit than all the gold, glass & Glory of say, a Versailles. Unavoidably, many still yearned for what could be had by a Louis XIV… or any other rich person about. An irresistible & expensive look of early 20th Century Italian interiors was flocked wallpaper. I love the idea of such wall-covering… or, carta da parati, but who today would want to feel they are living inside a lined box? Not back then. Responding to the market… in grotesque americanese… painters of the day concocted huge rollers with stencil patterns chiseled on them. And, off they rolled simulated flocking…

IMG_3942Ecco… of the Florentine symbol, Fleur de lis, in an innocent Copenhagen Blue. And a what? IMG_3938A lotus seed pod in sepia. Such quaint & recognizable designs sprouted across umpteen quickly plastered interior walls in the houses of the earthquake struck area. The above examples are from a house just off the Piazza Civico in Codiponte belonging to a couple… two of the sweetest folk in town… tackling the job themselves with its reconstruction. They had inherited the sins of the previous owners… fast & clever plaster & paint job disguising gaping seismic cracks in the house’s stone walls from the 1920 earthquake… when they were revealed by falling plaster from the 2013 one. I had caught them loading up a tractor at the bottom of the stairs to the re-do filled with shards of the now demolished stencil work. I said how sorry I was that this vestige had to be sacrificed to structure but, they were justified in doing so. I suggest they leave at least a portrait painting size panel to commemorate the house’s history. They said they had already thought to do so. Good. They gave me a few shards as a souvenir.

I may be guilty of the pot calling the kettle black but, not really. Though L’Appartamento Azzurro had broad boarders of applied stencils where the walls met the ceilings and around doors & windows in a nearly French tri-color flag combo of red, white & blue, there was little to save. All had practically faded away from salvation after 25+ years of abandonment to the elements of wind, rain & sun through long shattered windows & doors. Not such a big shame this loss of a bit of Il Poggiolo’s history. Too late. For the couple it is. Gone. Really gone some of the best examples of decorative stenciling I have laid eyes upon. Ever. Gads.