The building the pool, inevitably, had eaten-up a lot of our time. There were the things that we did ourselves such as preparing the hole, all the landscaping, plantings & fencing but also there was the supervision of the project & construction plus the banal but time-consuming job of keeping the place clean & tidy & removing the mud that seemed to ooze out of the building site as if from some horror film!
Thus we arrived in early spring with the vineyard in a bit of a state. We hadn’t managed to get to such normal winter jobs as changing the rotten vineyard poles or rusty strainers & Luca just got the pruning & tying finished by a hair’s-bredth before the plants budded with the first hot weather.
The spring was divine. It arrived early, very warm & sunny & the pool, filled but unfinished, ceased to be a preoocupation, the first guests arrived & the bravest tried-out the waters. We were relieved - poor but relieved - & hoped that the season would be a good one.
Meanwhile, our red wine in bottles had finished & so we opened the wine canteen doors to allow the spring warmth in. It is best to bottle wine when the wine has a temperature of 20°c. The temperature in the canteen in the winter can fall to around 8°c. This happens over months & so it takes a corresponding amount of time for the canteen & the thousands of litres of wine inside to heat up. Although the days were sunny & hot, the wines took forever to warm up & we ended-up bottling in May. Another big job done!
2007 - How Was It?
We started 2007 with some anxiety. Our swimming pool project had been going already for 5 years & we had encountered real bureaucratic problems having the project approved. Once the Regional Health Department categorised the pool as a public swimming pool (albeit only open to guests of the Agriturismo) & the local Council referred the project to the National Department of Antiquities - the very same that follows the Coloseum in Rome - because the proposed location was a ’protected area’ we - & our architects - really began to have doubts as to whether the pool would ever be built. However, if it was to be built it had to be completely finished, certified, registered & all the paperwork done & submitted to the Regional Department of Agriculture by mid-December of 2007 otherwise we would really have been in a fix regarding some EU funding of which we had received a part. No pool & apart from having to pay the money back with interest we would most certainly have been fined & seriously risked having the files transferred to the prosecuting magistrates.
Despite the pool having been classified as ’public’ there was no applicable law governing its requisites. The Department of Water & Pools in the Health Department never actually told us what the requisites were but simply rejected the various projects we proposed until we presented one that they approved.
So we found ouselves at the beginning of 2007 having to construct the pool & have it authorised in time which was going to be tight (each submission to the Department of Antiquities resulted in an automatic blocking period of 90 days in which nothing could be done to give them time to intervene should they so wish). In addition, it was imperative not to begin the tourist season without a pool but construction of the new pool had necessited the removal of the previous - externally mounted - swimming pool (which we had blissfully operated for 3 years without authorisation ignorant of the fact that in doing this we were committing a crime!).
On the 27th of December of 2006 the builders arrived & started preparing the construction site. In a fit of optimism we had excavated the hole for the pool in early December but following some torrential rain it had promptly filled-up with water & the clay was so wet & sticky that it was almost impossible to walk around. Of course, the builders turned out not to be the ones with which we had signed the contract but ’very good friends’ & as they were all called ’Andrea’ neither we nor our architects were ever really sure which ’Andrea’ we found ourselves talking about!
We were aprehensive because normally January & February in Friuli are cold & external construction tends to halt. As the pool construction would involve a large number of concrete pours a period of cold winds from Siberia would have prevented these & really pushed us over the edge (in all respects)!
As it was, however, somewhere there was a guardian angel who must have decided that we had suffered enough for the 5 by 10 by 1.2 metre tank of water! The builders were unbelievably good. Fast, professional, precise, they didn’t lose a day. The electrician & plumbers were superb. And Renzo Simeonato, the representative of the actual company that made the pool itself couldn’t have been better.
The winter was unseasonaly warm. I think that it only fell below zero on two nights, Nothing held back the work & gradually we saw our bank balance dwindle to nothing (less than nothing) but in compensation a pool was born on the 6th year of its gestation!