Our Sicilian Home – Ground Floor

Old Italian houses are a bit like the blocks in a game of Tetris. Some were large, possibly multi-family homes that over time have been chopped up into smaller sub apartment. While others have just organically grown out from what it was originally, adjusting over time to the needs of the family. 

Today, what looks from the front like a normal home, is often far from what you would expect behind. The same can be said for our house. 

If you are standing in front of our house, it looks like there is another nice house on the left and one more on the right. When in fact, what looks like three houses next to each other is five different homes across the various levels and depths. 

As mentioned in another post, we actually purchased two homes next to each other and hope to combine them into one larger house. 

In looking at the photo above, the first door on the left goes to our ‘tiny house’ which is essentially a long, narrow hallway that opens in a room in the back, a flight of stairs up, with a room at the top (also towards the back of the property). The balcony directly over the first door in the photo belongs to another property. 

The middle door, with the arch over it, is the door to our other house. It opens to a long flight of stairs to the next level, where the house begins.

The green garage door in the picture belongs to yet another property. 

The 'Garden'

One of my priorities in selecting a house was a garden – which is nearly impossible to find in the historic centers of these small villages. When these homes were built, most of the owners had farms in the country, so nobody needed a garden. 

I was told that this property came with a garden but it was located on the other side of the courtyard. Just past what we are planning as the kitchen/dining room is a hallway with a door to the courtyard. 

You go down a steep flight of stairs – watching your head because the balcony above cuts into it – into a semi-shared courtyard. The other properties around the courtyard can also access it. The other two rooms jutting into the courtyard belong to the owner of the garage next to our front door. 

In the wall of the courtyard is a door that leads to our ‘garden’. 

On the floorplan is a square listed as ‘rudere’ (ruin). In looking at the pile of rubble behind the house, I think at one point it was probably a stable for animals. You can see the posts sticking out of the wall where the animals were probably tied up and under the brush is the remnants of a stone feeding or drinking trough. Today you can’t see much, but it is a good sized outdoor space that we can clear out to turn into a garden. 

Past our little ‘garden’, is our neighbor’s much larger garden and another room associated with our property. 

This room likely also served as a barn or stables, judging by the hay still left on the ground. It is completely cut off from the rest of the property and currently has just the one window. 

Our architect says that despite the rough look of it, the room is actually in really good condition and quite ‘fresh’ as she says. The ceilings are high and have the traditional stone arches. We can make the door glass to let in more light. And of course, it has it’s own entrance so is quite a private room, potentially for guests or something. 

This post covered what the Italians refer to as the ground floor (piano terra) for the main house of our property. 

To keep the posts from being ridiculously long, I’ll cover each floor in a separate post and will do the ‘tiny house’ separate as well as it is quite different from this one. 

You can follow our Sicilian home renovation journey by clicking on “Our Sicilian Home” under topics on the right side of the page or following us on Instagram here

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