Restoring a Farmhouse in Tuscany  
Villa Querciatello is situated 370 m above sea level on the western slope of Rocca di Sillana, part of the Colli Metalliferi (metal-bearing hills). As the name suggests these hills are rich in iron ore, copper and pyrite that in former times were mined. On the top of the Rocca, some 800 meters from the Villa, you will find the Renaissance fortress of Silana. The Villa has a splendid position at the edge of the oak and pine forest that covers the hilltop. From the Villa you have a 180° view of the Cecina river valley, fields and the towns Laderello, Pomarance and Volterra. There is a small and very tranquil (5-10 cars/day) asphalt road running past the house.

The Villa is part of a little group of four houses and a chapel, however, at present the other houses are uninhabited and under restoration. Nearest inhabited house is the Lanciaia farmstead (1 km/½ miles); San Dalmazio is the next-door village (4 km/2½ miles) with bars, restaurants, a shop and first aid clinic; nearest town is Pomarance (12 km/7½ miles) with a wide selection of shops and restaurants; nearest notable historical towns are Volterra (20 km/12½ miles) with a 1C Roman theatre and gate and 13C Medieval centre; Laderello with its volcanic steam jets and hydro electric power plants (20 km/12½ miles); nearest beach at Cecina (45 km/29 miles); San Giminiano with its famous towers (48 kms/30 miles), Siena (50 km/31 miles) and Florence (85 kms/53 miles).

The Villa was build around 1860 as a farm labour house by a huge land estate which also encompassed the Lanciaia farmstead. The ground floor of the Villa, as well as the annexes, were all used for farming. Living area was confined to the first floor which, at one stage, housed four families.

THE FARM (original design)
The Villa is 670 m2 on two floors. On the ground floor there were 4 stables, a cart room, kitchen and 2 kitchen storage rooms. On the 1st floor there were 7 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a large corridor area. Between the floors there was 1 internal staircase. In the garden there was a 30 m2 garden house with hen house, pigeon loft and pigsty and a 25 m2 grotto used as deposit for animal dung.

THE RUIN (as we found it in 2004)
When we first saw it, the house had been abandoned for nearly 40 years and was hastily returning to nature. It had used by local farmers as a source of floor and roof tiles and a quarter of the roof and all the floors on the 1st floor were gone. The remaining roof and leftovers of the 1st floor were in bad condition. Where the roof was missing rainwater and sunshine penetrated inside the house and trees, shrub and herbs thrived in the former stables. All floors on the ground were covered with half a metre of rubble, debris and garbage. The outer walls were sane and very beautiful made of three colours of stone (yellow and cream sandstone and black volcanic rock) and red bricks framing doors and windows. The house was partly hidden in creepers, shrub and trees growing on or very close to the walls.

THE VILLA (planned design)
The Villa is 670 m2 on two floors. On the ground floor there will be a large two floor living room with a balcony running along the 1st floor, dinning room, kitchen, entrance, storage room, boiler room, laundry room, 110m2 banquet hall, 1 handicap-friendly double bedroom and bathroom and a guest toilet. On the 1st floor there will be a small living room/office, 6 double bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. Between the floors there will be 2 internal staircases. There will be fireplaces in the ground floor living room and living/dining hall. In the garden there will be a 30 m2 garden house with bathroom, sauna and garden storage room and on the 1st floor a dinning terrace with a nice view over the valley. The grotto will be used as a wine cellar and for technical instalations for the swimming pool?

In the 4000 m2 garden, there will be lawns, flowerbeds, fruit orchards and cypress and oak trees. A 11 x 6 m fenced swimming pool close to the house, 30 m2 loggia and a covered parking area for three cars.

For those who are interested about the bureaucratic process and the paperwork involved in buying a house in Italy, it is not quite as terrifying as sometimes made out to be. It depends very much on whom you end up dealing with (often a matter of luck) but it is also important to be well informed. Our experience and what we found out in the process is detailed here: THE PAPERWORK

1. liberate grounds from trees and shrubs;
2. liberate the house from trees, shrubs and creepers;
3. liberate and dispose of four truck loads of old fencing material;
4. clear floors for 30-120 cm of debris and rubble;
5. excavate floors to 40 cm below finished level;
6. clean facades;
7. remove plaster from inner walls;
8. remove roof;
9. remove old columns in stables and unstable inner walls;
10. clean and sort loose bricks and tiles;
11. remove 1st floor floor construction;
12. build new columns in stables;
13. build new internal walls in kitchen and dining room

14. repair façades and window and door frames;
15. build new columns in stables;
16. build new roof and chimney tops;
17. build new inner walls;
18. make new inner doorways

19. make Igloo floors;
20. build new columns in stables;
21. build new roof and chimney tops;
22. build new inner walls;
23. sandblow inner stonewalls in upper house;
24. remove scaffold;
25. point inner walls (6 weeks work);
26. build tubes for electric wires into walls in upper house;
27. plaster walls in upper house;
28. repair window frames upper house;
29. landscape the garden;


30. drag electric wires;
31. build garden house (liberate and excavate floors, remove ruined wall, build igloo floor, build inner brick walls ground floor, build stone walls, build floor (1st floor), build three arches, one door and one window, build roof, plaster brick walls and tile floors and walls, connect water, electricity etc.;
32. connect water tubes and pumps to spring;
33. landscape the garden;
34. build water cistern;
35. build under floor heating system, water and gas pipes upper house;
36. build bathrooms and kitchen in brick upper house;
37. tile floors and walls upper house;
38. mount windows and doors upper house;