Restoring a Damp House in Sicily: Part 1

February 8, 2010

The building permit for my little dream house in Sicily has finally been issued. I’m wildly happy.

Work begins.

Or does it? I’ve taken a job way up in Rome to finance the dream, so I cannot be sure.




But I know one thing: the scaffolding is up in the back of the house. A neighbor sends me this picture.

Renovating an old house in Ragusa Iba, Sicily, scaffolding, copyright Baroque Sicly

I am now the neighborhood eyesore. Not at all bella figura. Neighbors whose main entrance is on the alleyway can barely shoehorn their way into their own homes.

“Just a few weeks,” says the project manager when I call to ask how long it has to stay up.

But January turns to February, and February fades into March. I’m preoccupied with my job in Rome. My mason is in the hospital. My project manager busy with an illness in the family. The scaffolding stands forgotten.

I get a call in Rome from my Sicilian neighbor. “Gianna,” she says, “the neighborhood is complaining. People are arrabiati, angry. They’re afraid of thieves climbing on the scaffolding and breaking into their houses. And did you know the permit is about to expire?”

“Really?” I yelp.

I don’t expect what comes next.

“Neighbors are talking about filing a denucia, a formal complaint to the police.”

I take a deep breath and catch the next plane down.


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