Those of us who live in old houses in Italy share an odd (and frequent) occurrence of meeting someone new and having them exclaim, “Oh, you have a villa in Italy? Like that movie, Under the Tuscan Sun?!”
I don’t know about others, but I want respond “No, not like that movie (that I really, really disliked, based loosely on a book that few people have actually read) and, no, it’s not a villa (it’s actually a former stall) and, no, I don’t live in Tuscany. I live in Umbria.”
But of course, I usually don’t actually say any of that. It would take way too long and I’ve found that most people who ask the question about a villa in Tuscany really don’t want to hear the answer anyway.
If they did have the patience to listen to a response, I might tell them that living in an old house in Italy is similar to the book (not the movie) Under the Tuscan Sun in at least one way.
And not the light kind of dust that my grandmother removed from shiny, polished furniture with a delicate feather duster, but thick, gray, heavy, cement-based dust that hangs in the air and drapes its way into every crack and crevice – including one’s nose.
Life in an old house in Italy involves tolerating lots of that kind of dust. It’s either learn to tolerate it or get out, because there’s always another reason – another project – that will make more dust: a leak in a water line behind an old stone wall, a step repair next to an old stone wall, an electrical wire replacement inside an old stone wall.
Sometimes we escape from it – my husband and I. We get in the car and we just go, wandering aimlessly along country roads, breathing in the fresh air. But eventually we have to return and face the music – the dust, that is – usually with a vacuum clearer and a mop and possibly a water hose.
Thankfully, there’s always light at the end of the dust tunnel, because all house projects must come to an end. Well, at least most do. I mean …. some do. So the jackhammers go away and the dust settles (even faster since it’s heavy, cement-based dust) and we enjoy some period of time senza polvere.
Right now we’re in the midst of dust again, certainly the reason that I was compelled to write about it. A guest room and bath are the light at the end of this long, polvere-filled tunnel.
So we’ll take our walks and our drives and our bike rides and we’ll breath in that fresh country air to build up our tolerance for polvere. Kind of a wonderful thing to do, actually – under the Umbrian sun. Or clouds or rain or whatever the skies might have to offer.
Pamela Haack creates and hosts boutique-style, small group tours that are a combination of the very best of Italy: the exciting and the peaceful, the popular and the secret, the talked about and the never-heard-of-before. From art experts and operettas to authentic cooking classes and ancient Etruscans, Pamela helps visitors experience the spectacularly beautiful, endlessly interesting cities and countryside of Italy in an up-close and personal way – off the beaten strada.
She is also the author of Top 10 Favorite Etruscan Sites, as well as her popular blog, Off the Beaten Strada in Italy.
Pamela lives with her husband, Lou, in Umbria, Italy.