The garden at Casa Castigliana

The dining terrace

The house has been done for a few months now and all of our time inside is spent as if we are truly residents here. We cook. We eat. We hang pictures. There’s laundry and dusting. A good balance between work and enjoyment each day.

The garden is another story. Most days Joe and I clean out sheds and take big bags of junk down to the trash bin on the other side of the village walls. We’ve removed so much junk from the sheds, Joe is convinced we will be fined for taking over the bin and told to cease and desist. When we stop we are sweaty and itchy from the imagined spiders and snakes lurking in dark corners. It’s not pleasant work, and it’s hot here now.

The view from the upper terrace

“Piano, piano,” everyone tells us. Yes, it takes time to erase the past and create new beauty. Of course we are impatient. We have only a couple of weeks at a time to put in the work, to codify the vision. Once the slate is wiped clean, the work can begin to make the space our own.

The recently pruned olive trees are putting out new branches

During this vacation, he has knocked down old fence posts and neatly stacked the firewood. I have planted red geraniums, herbs,  and put twinkle lights in the grape arbor.  Our mason will come this week to talk about the new upper-level terrace, a new dining patio and rebuilding the retaining wall. We will discuss materials and timelines. Perhaps by this time next year the work will be complete and the sweating and grunting will be moments in history. We take it slow. “Piano, piano.”


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