We have been working on the renovation of Casina di Rosa, our vacation rental south of Siena, since November. We have rebuilt the roof, pulled down walls down, built new ones, restored old windows, bought new doors… We have brought some of the original features of the house back to their old look, and we have added new features. We have built the vacation rental in Tuscany we would have wanted for ourselves.
Casina di Rosa is not just a property for me. My great-grandparents built it a century ago. They were a humble family of carpenters: hard-workers, wise spenders. My mother was born there (literally). She lived there with my grandparents and my uncle, her grandparents (nonna Rosa – hence the name of the house – and nonno Gualtiero), her aunt, uncle and three cousins for quite a while. You might wonder how big this “villa in Tuscany”! is! Well, it’s approximately 40m2 (430 square feet)!! But those were hard times in an Italian village, immediately after WW2. Luckily, they didn’t have to live like this for long. By the 60’s the three families had three separate homes. But still, thinking about that these days, while we are debating whether to have two sofas or a sofa and an armchair to leave a bit more room for the 2 guests that the house will accommodate seems quite funny!
We are very happy about the way the renovations have turned out. We have changed the plan of the house to comply with the new regulations on accommodation facilities. Instead of having three small rooms (bedroom, kitchen, sitting room), we now have a slightly larger kitchen and a large bedroom with lounge area. Where the corridor used to be, we now have a closet and a wardrobe. The bathroom is accessed from the bedroom. The house seems more compact but it is certainly more comfortable.
I hated the old kitchen. There! I’ve said it!!! Now, we have brand new country-style kitchen furniture in the tones of cream and hazelnut-tree wood. We have a nice fridge with freezer compartment (isn’t that essential in Tuscany!? Where are you going to store your gelato otherwise?!), a nice oven and much more room for storage. The washing machine, which used to be in the closet, is now in the kitchen… essentially in the same spot as before, but the closet has been moved to make the kitchen wider. The fireplace is still in its place. There was no way we would move that! It has always worked perfectly, with no smoke at all in the house. That’s so rare in these old buildings!
I also hated the old floors: now we have brand new cotto-style tiles! It looks so much nicer! I have wanted to redo the floors for years!
I really like the little touches the builders and carpenter added: painting the back of the main door in a warm yellow, covering the corner of the kitchen wall with bricks, treating the wooden beams to make them all the same beautiful colour they were 100 years ago, and the stone wall in the bedroom is just beautiful I think (but hey, I might be a bit biased…). It looks so Tuscan!!!
We got rid of the fake wooden drop ceilings too. My grandmother had them installed 30 years ago, when the sandblasting equipment was not yet sophisticated enough to allow the builders to clean up the original cotto roofing tiles without breaking them. But now the new sanders are more “delicate” (that sounds like an oxymoron!!!) and we managed to bring both the cotto tiles and the wooden beams back to their old splendour with the result that we now have really high ceilings in the kitchen and part of the bedroom!
And then we wanted to add some comfort… We asked ourselves what we would like in a vacation rental home for ourselves and we installed air-conditioning and proper heating (with air pumps), a gas water heater so that guests don’t always have to deal with power shortage if they have the oven on and want to take a shower at the same time, a satellite dish for international channels, we bought a new TV with DVD player, a cd player, and we had a phone line installed so that as soon as the phone company hooks it up we can offer free Wi-Fi for our guests.
We have just finished bringing the furniture back in. We now have to tidy everything up, and add the decorating touches. I asked my gifted friend Lorella of Fiori e Dintorni to come take a look and find nice things for our Casina di Rosa to make it both pretty and comfortable. She has beautiful house-ware and decorative objects so I am sure she will give us great things!
We still need to finish fixing the loggia by the entrance. We have to bring patio chairs back and a small table for those who wish to eat outdoors. I wish we had more room outdoors, but at least there is enough room to sit outside and enjoy the warm morning sun and the cool evening breeze. We managed to save one of the two jasmines which were there. We had to move them because we needed to have part of the house façade replastered to get rid of an ugly old layer of grey concrete which we substituted with a nice yellow layer of facciavista plaster. One died, the other one now has a brand new trellis just for itself!
The first guests will arrive on June 12 (volcanoes and striking aircrews permitting…). We will take the new photos later this week hopefully, so that we can start advertising again in portals and we can launch our brand new website. The old one is quite disgraceful and has essentially been abandoned. The paradox is that my husband Marcel has a web design studio!!!! That’s always how it works, isn’t it? In Tuscany we have a saying: “la figlia del calzolaio va con le suole rotte“, meaning the cobbler’s daughter walks around with broken soles!
Now we are exhausted but happy and excited to see the finite product!
I want to thank all the friends and former guests who have been writing and asking about the renovations! This post is mostly an update for them! Grazie!