Here’s where you get to see just how nuts we must have been to fall in love with this place. The most gross, animal-molested mattresses and other debris were in every room when we first saw the house. No ‘vendor to clean’ clause in the purchase; the stuff was still there when we became the proud patroni of our dream home.

Now I lay me down to sleep

The roof had fallen apart and the rain had rotted ceilings, floors, and several of the plaster walls. If you’re ever looking for an old house to buy in Italy, make sure the roof is intact; it will save you a heap of heartache and money. And grossness.

After we’d owned the house for a couple of years, the top floor still looked like this; we’d cleared the middle floor but hadn’t gotten any further. An Austrian friend came to visit the house with me one summer and announced that all the crap was creating negative energy. No guff!

Would Sleep Country take this one?

Amazingly, she also declared we should get rid of it ourselves, that very minute. She has a kind of ongoing crusade against negative energy. So we donned gloves, wore underwear on our faces as masks (what can I say, they work well if you don’t have a real mask and they were clean) dragged it all over to the windows and – with a lot of shoving and grunting – down it all fell, three stories. Crash, thud, splat. Sooo satisfying. You gotta love a friend who will do that with you. We swept; you have to be vigilant when it comes to negativity, so we were after ever speck. Then our ever helpful neighbour came over with his front end loader and took the nasty heaps away.

I have to say, it did make a huge difference to how the place felt. Suddenly it was not a cesspool of other people’s decaying debris, it was a tabla rasa of possibilities. Now we could glimpse the future in every room.

Kitchen of our dreams

View from the eventual shower