Wow! Amazing! Beautiful! These are words I’ve been saying way too much since coming here to Via Piana. I got to Sora, just how I saw it on Google Maps’ street view (police station near the bus stop) and found Frederico’s Pizzeria. I called Anna with my brand new cell phone and stood on the corner for a while to wait. There was a little lightning and thunder in the distance (but it never got near enough to rain, fortunately). After a while, Frederico came out and told me I could sit down and wait, but that’s when Anna drove up.
She is so young, like me! I was definitely expecting someone older, maybe because of the formality of her emails. Maybe they sounded more “proper” because English is her second language. She is very good at English, though. And Italian. She is even helping me whenever I ask her how to say something. Anyway, she’s just 23 years old. She was working on her degree in Austria when she decided she just had to leave (out of boredom, I think). That’s when she moved here, about two years ago. Now she’s working on a communications major at the local university in Sora. She has more time over the winter, when there is less to do at the bed and breakfast. She said that actually the faculty and students were on strike right now because of some proposals to cut funding. Funny.
On our way back, we stopped to pick flowers at the farm, which is extremely “rustic” and has a rather unfinished farmhouse. Right now there is one person staying there from upstate New York. He didn’t look entirely happy about his living conditions. I don’t know if I would like it myself, but I did read the description on Workaway and I think it was pretty accurate. The “rustic farm” is owned by the same guy who owns the bed and breakfast, along with another working farm that also hosts visitors.
Then we got to the bed and breakfast. It’s down a very narrow and windy driveway (literally down, since it’s very hilly around here) with old buildings on each side. All of the buildings seem to be connected to each other, although I know they’re not. The building I’m staying in is very old, probably about 200 years old! It seems to be made of stone, plaster, and the red tile roof you see everywhere. The doorways and windows are wide rectangles and squares cut in the walls, usually with a simple wooden frame. *The door to the kitchen is actually an arch. Most of the rooms have a window in the frame, some do not. All the rooms are in varying stages of remodeling.
There are a couple of guest rooms that are really nice. They have window, tile floors, new beds, and electricity. The bathroom is also fully finished with a sink, mirror, electrical outlet, toilet, bidet (haha), and shower. The water pressure is great. The funniest part about the bathroom is the shower is not in a separate stall. You go into the bathroom, lock the door, and turn on the water, and try not to spray the whole room. Then you just squeegee the entire floor (which is not very big) when you’re done. The other thing about the bathroom is that there’s only one for six (about to be eight with the arrival of a couple more guests) people. So far it really hasn’t been a problem. But it’s very different from what we would expect in the States, right?
The kitchen is small but very nice and up-to-date. The dining room has a big table, a cabinet, a fridge that acts like a cabinet, a fridge that actually works, a window frame that has no window (but provides a nice summer breeze), a fire place, and a brick oven. Anna actually uses it to bake bread. I can’t wait to watch her do it. The dining room also serves as the common area since it has the most electrical outlets and the best internet reception. *It’s where I’m typing right now.
My room is rather unfinished. Anna was very sweet and offered me another choice of room (which she’s currently renovating, that’s why she didn’t just put me there) if I don’t like this one. I like it, though. It’s a walk down a hill and up some steps from the kitchen so it’s quite private. I just realized this afternoon that even though this complex of houses all seems to be connected, none of the rooms themselves are actually connected. You have to go outside to get to each one (the bathroom, the kitchen, the laundry room, the bedrooms) and there are multiple levels with stairs and pathways and little hills between each one.
Anyway, you may be interested to note my room has a window frame with an actual window. It also has a bed with a comfortable feather mattress on a somewhat lopsided frame. I’m using the sheet and unzipped sleeping bag that I brought from Tennessee and was quite comfortable last night. Oh, side note: it’s very interesting to hear what people say when I tell people I’m from Tennessee. With other Americans I talk about what cities are nearby and whom they know from the area. Well, it turns out that Italians have actually heard of Tennessee, too. One guy just LOVES Elvis Presley (“An American icon!”) and the guy who owns the bed and breakfast said “Oh, that’s where they make whisky!”
But back to my room. There is an empty fireplace in it which looks like it hasn’t been used a while and there’s also an oven just like the one in the kitchen except this one doesn’t work, according to Anna. The whitish walls are bare, except for a few rusty nails sticking out of the walls with a few mysterious twisted metal rods hanging from a few of them. Some of the plaster has fallen from the ceiling (they tested it to make sure no more would fall down) leaving some of the red roof tiles exposed. If you’ve ever seen the movie version of Mamma Mia, this whole complex looks a bit like that hotel on the Greek island. And just to give a complete picture, there’s also a rickety table and chair, and a bench made with a slab of marble. And there is a bat. At least there was. It flew away last night and didn’t come back in the morning. Maybe because I shut the door. Sad.
I’ll have to write about the people and the work and grocery shopping tomorrow. Buona notte!