Furniture with a second chance
While the apartments were taken on their definitive form, we kept asking ourselves the same question: we wanted like to build furniture, tables, chairs, sofas and beds all out of wood. But we didn’t want to cut down a single tree. Were we asking for something impossible?
Then, one day, Enrico came home with one of those smiles that are only for special occasions. I thought to myself: either it’s a diamond ring, or it’s a surprise for the house. Knowing Enrico, the doubt lasted a heartbeat: no ring.
The surprise was a warehouse full up to the ceiling of furniture recovered from a large local business that was closing down.
When I opened the door and I saw furniture, tables and chairs, I thought to myself that we had gone mad. Totally mad. Then Enrico – who is always the far-sighted one – winked at me.
We cut and modified the furniture to fit the rooms and make them feel spacious. We adjusted the tables and gave new thickness to the seats of the chairs. We painted everything and matched fabrics and colours. With the parts left over, we invented mirrors, reinforced sofas, fixed the beds.
This is why all the apartments have the same furniture, even though the colours and fabrics change. Yes, Enrico is right. The extremely useful has its own intrinsic beauty: the beauty that comes from respect for what it was and for how it has been transformed.
And then? And then we built lamps that you will never find anywhere else.
Lamps with a boiling-hot past
The lamps in our apartments are unique! The stem is made from bamboo cultivated on the family farm, the bases are made from offcuts from the furniture with a second chance, and the lampshades?
The lampshades have such a romantic past you wouldn’t believe it: they were used in the old pig shed to warm new-born piglets, who all huddled together under the source of heat and then had a warm place to eat and sleep.
Now, each one coloured in the official colour of the corresponding apartment, who could ever stop looking at them?
Stories of bricks
In the magnificent red brick houses alongside our apartments, there are some special inhabitants. Memories. Just think that there were friars in the Santo Spirito monastery in Tavanara di Sanguinetto at least as far back as 1241. The rule required manual labour, poverty and spirituality. Monks and converts cultivated mainly wheat, but also millet and rye.
But it is not just because of the history that we love these red homes. For my husband Enrico, these are special places: in the family church, dedicated to San Bartolomeo, just a stone’s throw away from Borgogelsi, his mother was married in the 1950s. If you want, I can take you there, it is a beautiful walk.
I found the name for the red homes, and it’s no big deal if some people don’t approve. They are: la Corte vecchia [Old courtyard], la Casa della campana [the house of the bell], la Casa dei tre archi [The house with three arches] and La casa dei quattro archi [The house with four arches]. We consolidated them all. We rebuilt their roofs and floor-slabs, recovering the beams that were still in good condition, we installed old wooden shutters on the windows and doors.
We even refurbished Corte vecchia, and it became a large sunlit room: where once there was hay, now there is a large (really large) wooden staircase retrieved from the old tobacco dryers belonging to Enrico’s family. In this former barn we organise parties, seminars, meetings, and anything that requires space, silence, and concentration.
Wait, stand here, where I am standing now: what do you see near the open door? There, now there is a large courtyard, a deck chair in the shade to relax on, and the organic vegetable garden.
The staircase – I was talking about the staircase: it is used to connect this large apartment with two apartments with large segmental arched windows: here too, we welcome guests.
If you are romantic like I am, take a look at these two beautiful photographs: the first shows Enrico’s grandparents taking a walk in the country when they were young, right on the Via Tavanara that goes towards Sanguinetto (where we are). In the background you can see the castle of Sanguinetto and the church. The second picture shows Enrico’s grandmother – she’s the one with the umbrella – together with her cousin, and in the background, you can just make out the castle.
And then that’s it, because you must see these red houses with your own eyes: believe me, it’s worth it.