Restoring a Damp House in Sicily, Part 8

April 26, 2010

Tragedy in the bathroom.

Remember those beastly expensive Italian glass tiles I naively ordered?

These are them, installed.

When I sprayed glass cleaner over my new sea-blue walls, wiping away the obscuring film of white plaster the mason had left, I could not believe my eyes. Not a single straight line! As if an ill-tempered four-year old had been hard at work.

How could I have allowed this to happen, you ask?

Well, early in the day, curiosity kept prompting me to run down two flights of stairs and check on the work. After 30 minutes of this, the mason said I made him nervous, and would I please go away and cease to bother him? The work is molto delicato, he said, and it is necessario to concentrate and be left solo.

And so away I went, full of cockeyed hope that I’d soon have a useable bathroom.

I returned to the house after two days, descended into the winery-cum-guest quarters and beheld anarchia. Thousands of tiny mosaic tiles stuck willy-nilly onto the wall. I felt like I’d been gored.

But I refused to face reality. Don’t panic, I told myself. It’s rustic. Rustic is good. It fits the theme of the wine cantina. Molto rustico! Charming in its own way. Isn’t it? Isn’t it?????

I called over a few friends to have a look. Horrid, they said, daring to utter the bald truth. Really horrid.

It doesn’t look bad from afar, though, does it? If you kind of … squint at it?

Now what do I do.


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17 comments to Restoring a Damp House in Sicily, Part 8

  • Dennis Berry

    Add your tile to the other beautiful crooked sights of Italy, Mona Lisa’s smile, The Tower of Pisa or the Amalfi Coast. I am sure your readers can come up with more.
    You could even hang pictures of the crooked sight’s in your bathroom.
    If you look hard i think you will find the image of Padre Pio in your wall.
    I am buying an old cottage in Walla Walla, Wa. and have trouble getting my wife on board.
    Old saying 1 Never love anything that can’t love you back.
    2 You can choose your friends but god chooses your neighbors.

  • It does not look bad from afar AT ALL. feel so bad for you. I had a similar experience with a tiled bathroom that came out bumpier than it should have. I have learned to live with it!

    • Jann

      With my bath, not only are the tiles bumpy, but when you run your hands over the wall you can actually cut your fingers, since the jutting-out tiles are made of glass. Ouch!

  • It looks like the rippling sea. (if it is put in poetic terms, does that help?)

  • Christine

    MANAGGIA! In all honesty? Once you’ve lived in the house for a while it may not matter so much. That’s what I found. I’d probably leave them as is and hope to dock his pay if you haven’t already paid him.
    A presto-Christine

  • Tom

    It really depends on what is important to you, does it matter if the tiles are strait or not. Or possibly you just feel you were taken for a ride. Take A DEEP BREATH remember why you are in Sicily. Stay well Tom

  • Jann

    Thanks, everyone, for your sympathy and suggestions!!! Such is life. I’ll let you know in a future post how this all shakes out!

  • They look 3d from a distance, overall effect is lovely. I remember putting them on my bathroom wall, positioning was easy,grouting was an endless torture… By the way, asked me to compile a Top Ten Secret Italy list and
    I included Baroque Sicily. Great blog! ( )

  • Aye yi yi. So, it isn’t craftsmanship, but the tile serves its purpose in waterproofing the wall. Having remodeled dozens of homes, I’ve come to the conclusion that absurdity like this is just “small stuff” in the scope of life. It ain’t cancer or mass destruction; just a bad tile job. In lieu of calling in the mafia, why not a hearty laugh and a celebration of imperfection?

    • Josephine Lissandrello

      Aysha,I think it’s kind of difficult to laugh off imperfection when you’ve paid for it.

  • Now, that’s a tricky one. Back home no doubt you get him to re-do it all over again at his costs and get a lawyer involved if necessary, but in Sicily…? You haven’t got any friends with connections in the mafia that can threaten to break your man’s legs?

  • NUR

    Ohhhhhhhhhh::(( sorry for that Jann!Restoring a house is not as easy as it seen anywhere.We did it for Bodrum and I know how it is a hard stuff!Anyway take it easy,the man dies and the things live.

  • sandee wheeler

    It doesn’t look bad from afar, but, every time you pass by it….your blood pressure will rise. If he messes with it, the tiles will break??

  • joanne

    mi dispiace!!!! che cosa posso fare? questa e italia. non ce un guaratizia! e tropo picato! Maybe you can appeal to his pride of workmanship as an artisan? bohhhhh!!! I feel for you!

  • Josephine Lissandrello

    Let’s put it this way: The tiles have an “Interesting” look!

    What I would do now… have a Sicilian fit. He should pay for a new batch of tiles and tear down the botched job. Then find someone more expert to do the job. Threaten him alla Siciliana Have you already paid him? If you haven’t, don’t pay him nemeno un euro. Mi piange il cuore per te.

  • Oh no! Now what are you going to do? Was he drunk or blind when he did this?

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