Wednesday, 24 January 2007

The house above the cork forest

Four houses really, each one a three floored tower attached on two sides to the rest of the building, so that cut across the house would look like a slice of that neapolitan ice cream you used to be able to buy or, better, of angel cake, if that's what it was called, four pastel blocks of sponge inside an icing shell. We were taken to see it the first time by E., since christened Zanzara (Mosquito), less for his sting than his ubiquity, it must be three years ago by now, and we wanted it for us or someone we knew, anyone would do. We wanted to keep it in the family.

It's a beautiful house, for what it is - just-worked honey-coloured stone - and for where it is, built on the side of the hill, with cork trees filling the valley below and bare rocks above, and a cave where a shot-down Greek pilot lived during WW2, or part of it, succoured by the local people according to the owners of the house, four aged brothers who pop up as soon as a car approaches the drive. This may be true. It's more or less where La Ciociara was set, after all, and Moravia knew a thing or two about the Resistance.

We showed it to friends, who liked it but not enough, who spoke to friends, who liked it enough, who fell in love with it, as people say about houses they want to live in. They decided to buy it in September 2005. E. swore to us that the papers were in order, and we believed him.

This is the first instalment of a long and enervating tale...

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