Domenico’s Ruin


When we purchased our little piece of Italy, namely a five room house with lots of neglected land I hated the old ruin that was opposite. We soon discovered that the ruin was part of an old palazzo and as it had become unstable the owners were told to take it down. Three of the owners removed their properties, however one remained standing; or literally clinging on. We discovered this small ruined house belonged to Domenico. A small, wiry septuagenarian with a personality akin to that of a terrier. It appears that Domenico thinks he can get away with just removing the roof. I can see his point, why spend your own money when no one lives nearby, however now someone does live nearby, in fact just 4.5 metres away. Our lawyer said we can let the comune (council) know and they’ll order it taken down. However not wanting to upset the locals I said leave it for now, thinking at least it keeps our place hidden from the road: What a mistake that was, hidden away we were burgled twice in 2012.

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Now that I’m getting settled into life here in Abruzzo and restoring our house I’ve grown quite fond of Domenico’s ruin, especially on nights like this. Streisand, sings, With One More Look at You, I take my glass of wine outside where there’s very little light pollution and the evening air clings to the remnants of the days warmth and it stands silent, a sentinel looking over the valley. There’s the sound but no sight of wildlife and everything feels good with the world. I grab my camera and fire of a picture of the ruin; a memory frozen in time of this quarter of a palazzo that was built more years ago than anyone can remember; the last restoration previously done back in 1931.

Maybe, I’m losing my Englishness and unconsciously embracing the Italian way of thinking. Perhaps living with a ruin isn’t too bad. It certainly puts things into perspective. There are more important things the worry about than if a pile of bricks looks unsightly, but then again there’s that old cliché about beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

There’s a breeze as the music shuffles and Depeche Mode begin to play, Halo. Perhaps I’ll take my wine back inside and leave the ruin to stand alone inside the inky blackness of the Abruzzi countryside. I close my front door as Dave Gahan sings the lyric, ‘When the walls come tumbling in.’ Let’s hope, not tonight, I’d like some more time with this ramshackle old building.

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