No, not the Gingerbread house – we managed to create a quintessentially Italian variety. When it came time to refinish the exterior stucco on Godzilla, we did a lot of research on types of plaster. The old stuff was an impoverished cement mix with a lot of sand and not much bonding agent, the kind of stuff that sucks damp straight into the house and allows cracks through which wind – and bugs – can travel unimpeded.
We chose a product from a Vicenza company, MGN, that specializes in plaster mixes to match historical properties. The plaster breathes but repels water, and has strong cohesion to keep everything from crumbling anew. All the old stucco was removed, we tried test patches to make sure we liked the look, chose a colour, compared quotes. We agreed that rather than going for a complete stucco look, the contractor would leave the stone face showing and mortar between them. We left the country.
The product is fantastic but it turns out Godzilla’s walls are not. There are a lot of smaller stones that are not structurally secure, and – it turns out – are really difficult to point. Also, the plaster is goopier than the usual kind and tends to be messier to apply as a result. When I flew over from Canada to check out the final result, Angelo’s blathering about the many challenges of the plaster should have been warning enough of what to expect.
You might be familiar with an Italian cake (also an ice cream) called Cassata. There are a lot of different versions of this treat, but essentially it’s creamy cake with little bits of candied fruit in it. That was the first thing I thought of when I looked at Godzilla. The whole house had a pale coating, like vernix on a newborn, out of which popped random stones. I dubbed it ‘effetto cassata‘ and, sadly, everyone could see exactly what I meant. Not quite the vision of honeyed stone I’d been dreaming of.
Mercifully, time – and acid rain – heal all wounds. The vernix fell away over the course of the next year, leaving Godzilla with something resembling the classic stone walls we wanted. Imperfect, as is everything with Godzilla. But now strong, resilient and damp-free.