In 2007 we purchased one half of a former mill which is beautifully located within 2 and a half hectares of it's own grounds consisting of olive grove, orchards and wood in Umbria, Italy.
The next 3 years were spent wading through red tape but eventually planning permission was granted and work started towards the end of 2010 on our next holiday cottage which will be a beautiful luxury holiday home for 2 with private pool.
The aim is to build a green house by going "off grid" as far as possible.
Here's what the house looked like when we bought it. There was just one room downstairs and one room upstairs, no electricity, no running water, in fact no services at all yet it was inhabited for a long time by an elderly lady who grew her own vegetables and drew water from the nearby stream.
We imported (from Baltimore, USA) this 34 foot Airstream caravan which is temporary on site accommodation during the building works. In true Americian style we took a 3 day road trip and towed it to Italy from the UK which was great fun.
December 2010 - the ground to the side of the house is cleared and after 3 months of living in the dark mains electricty finally goes onto site and into the Airstream.
January 2011 - a retaining wall is built to the front of the cottage which will eventually be stone clad to match the house.
Time out ...............
January 2011 - despite having been neglected for the last 10 years plus, the olive trees to the rear of the house were laden with olives which were duly picked and taken to the local factory for processing.
Here it is - hand picked, high altitude, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil - the best quality possible..... with a mild peppery flavour, which is charactoristic of the local area, it tastes absolutely divine.
Huge celebrations - the water diviner and the local geologist agree and we sink a borehole and strike an underground river at 55 meters below ground level. This was such good news as there was no guarantee of hitting water and it ties in with our off grid / green aspirations for the cottage.
A big digger arrives then a bigger digger arrives and exacavations for the foundations start.
March 2011 - setting out the foundations. Mid March 2011 - the first pour of the foundations takes place and the biodigester which is environmentally friendly version of a sceptic tank is installed.
Beginning of April 2011 the basement walls are poured. An application is submitted for 3 phase electricity for the ground source heat pump. Pruning commences to the olive grove and maintenance to the wood.
June 2011 - the pool base and walls have been constructed and the base for the first floor. We have under floor heated the pool so that the temperature will be consistent.
The view from the pool is going to be amazing.
August 2011 - the house is now really starting to take shape. The basement is complete and the walls for the first floor are under construction.
The most beautiful oak possible was carefully sourced and selected and the beams cut to exacting requirements. The ceiling tiles are traditional to the area and blend perfectly with the oak.
The foundations for the staircase to the front of the house are now complete - these will be faced in locally sourced stone.
September 2011 - the roof of the existing house comes off for the installation of a ring beam. Now it's a race against time to make the house weather tight before the winter ............. photos to follow.
March 2014 - the builders are back on site - hurrah ! the roof is now complete and the garage door and the internal staircases are being constructed.
The cottage is located less than half an hour's drive from Perugia Airport, where Ryan Air fly direct from Stansted, yet the cottage is peacefully located and is not on the flight path.
Alternatively, Rome Arport is an easy 2 hour drive from the house.
The cottage, is situated in a quiet location, off the beaten track. It is located within 2.5 hectares consisting of orchards, a small wood and an olive grove.
The nearest small town, Bevagna is only a few minutes drive away.
Here is an artists impression of what the house should look like once it is finished (all of the external walls will be in traditional Umbrian stone and the roof won't be red as it appears below!):
The view from the cottage across the neighbouring vineyards to the mountains beyond in early spring.
This is part of the rear garden with fabulous views accross the hillsides. The garden continues to the rear of the photographer and includes a wood and olive grove which despite having been neglected for the past 10-15 years has already produced several litres of fabulous quality extra virgin olive oil.
This is the view from the opposite side of the valley looking at the cottage. The cottage can just be seen in the middle of the photo.
The local village, Torre del Colle, where there is an excellent restaurant and bar and which is a twenty minute walk or few minutes drive away from the cottage. This photograph was taken from the white country road leading to the cottage.