Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 21, 2012

Casa Debbio from the beginning until the (almost) complete house

The electricity and water have been connected to Casa Debbio and it is very close to completion.  I have gone back to the start to show you the pile of rocks we started with……and the beautiful stone house we now have.

The original stone house

We called it “Our pile of rocks”

The house was too far gone to repair. One of the main walls had a huge crack in it.

the cracked wall

We were determined to save and replace the volcanic stone doorway in the new house.

Volcanic stone doorway

The old house was pulled down in early 2010. The volcanic stones from the doorway were kept and waited patiently to be installed in the new house.

the dismantled door waiting to be rebuilt

The old house looked a bit forlorn. We have kept the walls of the old house to form the back of the terrace beside the new house.

The walls of the old house

We had to wait for our permits to be processed, so nothing much happened in 2010. Building began on 7th March 2011.

the hard won building permit

I think it should go here

The hansdome fellow above is our builder Leonardo.  I liked him from the start and he has done a great job. The new house has been built in a slightly different position on the land to give us a bigger terrace in front of the house.

the internal walls grew quickly

the top of a window frame goes in

hard at work

Building the external stone walls was the next step.  The stones were mostly gathered from the site. Because we had no electricity to the site the yellow bobcat thingy below was everything….a grader, digger, cement mixer, fork lift and mini crane. The attatchment on the front could be removed and the required part added.

a hive of activity

taking shape

new stone wall

I persuaded our handsome builders to take their shirts off one hot dayin May last year…to good effect I think.

what lovely smiles

It was a milestone when the stone doorway went in.

the doorway is replaced

The next big step was when the roof went on in June 2011.

the roof beams

at work on the roof

Gigi and Adriano on the roof

the Italian flag on the roof

I sent copies of the photos of the shirtless builders to them from Australia…..I think they liked them.

Once the external parts of the house were finished, the plumbing and electrical work began….not terribly photogenic, but the house was looking good.


Work carried on inside through the winter of 2011/2012.


We have underfloor heating on the ground floor. I love the ceilings on the top floor.




The beautiful double glazed chestnut windows went in.


The handmade terra-cotta tiles arrived for the ground floor.



The staircases went in.


And the front door. There will be chestnut shutters on all the windows and glass doors, for security and insulation.


The kitchen takes shape.


The bathrooms were tiled.


The chestnut door was built for the stone doorway.



The furniture starts to arrive in Eliseo’s tractor/trailor.



The builders take a break for lunch.

The house is almost ready.












The electricity has been connected, it had to come across the mountain from the village.  The water from our own mountain spring is connected to the house and the finishing touches are happening right now.

It will be ready for its first visitors soon. Let me know if you are visiting Tuscany  and want a gorgeous stone house in the mountains.

The view from the house is stunning. It is on 10,000 square metres of land in the middle of a national park. and only 10 minutes walk, or  a 2 minute drive to the lovely village of Vergemoli. It faces south and has sun all day. The only sound you can hear is birds chirping.


If you will be in nothern Tuscany in September come to the house warming party…..send me an email…


  1. Reblogged this on Our House in Tuscany.

  2. Absolutely charming! I am green with envy!

    • We are thriled with the house. I am looking forward to getting back to Italy in September to spend some time there.

  3. such an amazing journey. I enjoyed these photos very much. I have friends in Le Marche who have done very similar. They are actually from the UK and live at least 6 months a year in their gorgeous stone house. Just stunning

    • I hope to spend some time in the house before we rent/sell it.

  4. It’s really lovely!

    • Thank you. We are very happy with the house.

  5. It sits beautifully on its site, and that terrace, is fantastic – I’m sure it will become the most popular place in the house in good weather. Congratulations (and to the crew – you were lucky there, weren’t you?) on a marvellous regeneration.

    • We were very lucky with the builders. Leonardo is young and enthusiastic and very bright. He understood what we wanted to achieve and made it happen.

  6. PS I meant to ask- did you treat the volcanic stone before you reused it, or is this just a colour difference caused by light?

    • The stones would have been cleaned, but nothing else. The original house could have been a couple of hundred years old. I would like to find out when it was built when I go back to Italy.

      • I’m sure you’ll find out everything about the old house over time Debra, as the local villagers become accustomed to your being there, and marvelling at what you’ve achieved.

        Interesting the door stones weren’t given an acid bath, or something. I guess it was just the light then, that made them look so much paler.

      • It is probably just that the original photo of the house was taken in winter on a fairly dark day. There is also a lot more light behind the house as it is now further away from the side of the hill.
        I am looking forward to meeting more people from the village to find out more about the house.

      • That’d explain it Debra.
        I’m sure you’re going to enjoy being there, especially on that wonderful terrace.

      • I also want to do something involving our spring. I want a waterfall of some kind down the hill with an old stone tub at the bottom…a place to cool your feet on a hot day.

      • What a lovely idea!

  7. What a task you took on and what a triumph. It is a wonderful house. Love all of it. xxx

    • I think the house is gorgeous, but I am biased.

  8. Absolutely stunning, congratulations.

    Cheers Judy

    • Thank you. We love the house.

  9. I loved looking through these photos! Wonderful to see the project from start to finish, Thank you. I must say though, I did find some of the photos of the builders a little distracting.. oh my!

    • Why do think I included them? I did enjoy my visits to the site on warm days.

      • I can imagine! 😉

  10. Looks great and like a really relaxing place!

    • The site is just heavenly. I am looking forward to spending time there in September. I hope you enjoyed your time in Bagni di Lucca and that your house is going well.

  11. Looking superb and a great story Debra. What a happy ending!!! You must be proud. I mentioned this house just this evening on skype to a dear friend in London. Now I can send her a link! x

    • I hope you can come back to see the finished house.

      • Count on it Debra!! Thank you for saying that. I can’t wait to see it again!

  12. Charmingly, gorgeous both house and the builders:-). Congratulations.

    • I think we have been very lucky on both counts.

  13. Lovely, lovely home and what a wonderful way to see it change with this post. I think you know which photo is my favourite! 😉

    House warming in September, eh? Hmmm …. 🙂

    • I’ll let you know when I have a date for the housewarming.

  14. Congratulations Deb
    The house looks fabulous and the inside decor is stunning. I hoe you have many happy days there

    • Thank you, you will have to visit one day soon.

  15. The house is beautiful Debra. It will be exciting for you to be sitting out on the terrace in September, glass in hand, taking in the stunning view and having a toast to all that you have achieved. Shame we can’t be there to celebrate with you!

    • I am really looking forward to spending some time in the house, and autumn will be just the right time to do it.

  16. I’m delighted for you to hear you have water and electicity, now you will be able to stay in your lovely house, and hopefully lots of guests will too!

    • I’m looking forward to being back in Bagni di Lucca soon and spending some time in the new house.

  17. The House is so beautiful!. I am thinking that you can hardly wait to get back in September. Amazing pictures from start to finish.

    Pam Proctor

    • Thank you, we think the house is pretty good, and are relieved that we have finally got it to this stage.


  19. Such a lovely, charming place and I loved seeing it all come together in your pictures. This was an incredible undertaking and you have my utmost respect and admiration!

    • It has been an experience, mostly good, and the result makes all the difficult time worthwhile.

  20. Bellissima!

  21. I enjoyed scrolling through the build. Your new house looks lovely. Enjoy!

    • I am keen to get back and acutally live in the house for a while.

  22. Fantastic achievement. Great fun going through the post from start to finish. The house looks fantastic. Can’t imagine how you got it all done, even with a good builder. Congratulations!

    • I think we have been very lucky with the people we chose to work on the house. For the most part is had gone fairly smoothly.

  23. What a massive undertaking, and an absolutely delightful result, both inside and out. Well done – I bet you can’t stop smiling!

    • It has been huge, but the results make it worthwhile.

  24. Debra I love how authentic you have been able to make a new build. Fantastic stone work and timber beams and of course the stone doorway. The setting in the mountains is stunning – a beautiful part of Italy for sure. Hope we may return one day in our wanderings.

    • The area is stunning. Our view is always spectacular.

  25. Simply beautiful

  26. It must be such a lovely feeling when you walk through the lovely doorway and into the house. I particularly like the stencilling. Good effort Deb.

    • The house has a very good feel to it. It is light and airy, just what we wanted.

  27. The house has such a wonderful calming feeling well done.
    You should be proud.
    Maybe next time we will stay in it ?

    • Bring your friends, it sleeps 6 comfortably.

  28. Congratulations, Debra! It has been a lot of work, but the result is worth the effort.

    • We think so. It is a beautiful house.

  29. Such a labor of love. You’ve done such an incredible job. Brava!

    • The whole team has been excellent, we are very happy with the workmanship.

  30. absolutely stunning. thank you so much for sharing the step-by-step process. what a joy it must have been!

    • It wasn’t always joyous, there were long waits for some things, but the result makes it all worthwhile.

  31. God, it looks AMAZING, Deb! If we ever make to your part of the planet, I will definitely let you know. Truly stunning, my friend. Congrats!

    • It is a lovely house, I can’t wait to spend some time in it.

  32. Congratulations Debra , the house and
    its surroundings look absolutely beautiful.
    You must be very proud, as the builders
    should be.
    We will miss the house warming party in
    September , but would love to see it when
    we get there in the following weeks.

    • I would love to take you up to the house when we are in Bagni di Lucca.

  33. Congratulations, Debra! You have a beautiful house. I think we are not joining in the house warming party, but thanks for inviting ;=)

    • I hope you will come one day to see it. Tell Mikko we have a forest for him to work on.

  34. It looks amazing – congratulations on your lovely house!

    • It is a gorgeous house. Do you know anyone who would like to rent it?

  35. Looking fantastic Debra, I’m sure there were some painful moments – we’ve justt refurb’ed the ground floor of our house in the UK and that was bad enough. I can’t imagine building from scratch!

    • It is not over yet. It seems something extra keeps appearing, just when you think you are finished.

  36. What a charming setting Debra! Seems perfect!

    • The site is very beautiful, it will be great to spend some time up there.

  37. Love Love Love it! FINALLY that darn electricity is in. Whew! So wish we could be there for the housewarming, but we are not back until mid – end of November. Maybe in May 2013? Take care and it is stunning!

    • We have a date for next May.

  38. Deb, as you know, I’ve been reading your blog since that very first pile of stones post. What a joy it has been to follow the building of such a beautiful home! Thanks for taking us on the journey with you – it was like watching an episode of Grand Designs.. xx

    • The house is not weird enough for Grand Designs, but sometimes the process has been just a difficult.

  39. Debra, you must be so proud of the house. It really does look magnificent. I love all the photos showing the beginning to the end.

    • The house is wonderful and now we would love to rent it…tell all your friends.

  40. Wonderful – what a transformation. I’m very jealous!

    • It is a lovely house. I wish I had seen the original house before it fell down.

  41. Hey ,what a wonderful house.I loved your step by step pictures.

    • Thank you, perhaps you will come to visit one day.

  42. Looks amazing. You have done such a great job.

    • The whole team has been excellent. We have been lucky.

  43. What a transformation! Everything about it is amazing!
    What a great job and insight.

    • It is a beautiful house in a gorgeous position. If you know anyone who wants to rent a lovely stone house in Italy let me know.

      • Shall definitely do that. 🙂

  44. A wonderful transformation. Congratulations!

    • Thank you. It is a beautiful house and hopefully will be a great place to live in.

  45. Finally got to reading this! Wonderful to see all the years of work together like this – an inspiration for what’s possible when you apply tenacity and love (and some funding) to a beautiful spot.

    • It has taken quite a lot of funding, much more than we had hoped.

      • Me ne posso immaginare il costo!! This is Herculean.

      • It certainly has been a huge task, but hopefully soon we will be able to rent it to lucky visitors.

  46. I work in the construction side that I know the hard work exerted on building projects, not to mention the dangers as well. I also know how it feels when it gets done. One and a half ain’t that bad at all, esp. with the excellent interior design like that.

    • The house is completed now except for a few small things. It is an enormous job and we are very happy with the result.

  47. Just wonderful…. Green with envy!!

    • We are very happy with the house. If you know anyone who would like to rent a mountain house next year let me know.

  48. The screen is green!! A fog of envy; just gone through the entire story of the ‘pile of stones’. Wow, it’s SO delicious. Wish I could win that $20 million in tonight’s lottery. You’ve completed an amazing project; it is absolutely stunning and you need to take a bow. There’s is so much to love about it; but the charm of the front entrance…oh, sigh,.. and the chestnut door…..take a ‘toast’ from me any day or night you’re sipping on the terrace!!

    • I will be staying at house next week. I will sit on the terrace and have a Campari and soda for you….or would you prefer an Aperol spritz?

      • I will, very kindly, have them both. On different days, at different times, with different light. How very sweet of you! Just read your ‘Lucchio’ post; that house, ramshackle in all its beauty, that everyone has been smitten by; I mentally emptied the bank account, sold the house and said good-bye to everyone; on the plane donning a billy-goat beard ……instead I have to mow the lawn!! Have a wonderful stay and I hope we hear alllllll about it’s comforts. Is Indian summer on it’s way?

      • The house should be ready to rent by next spring. I am here to help put the finishing touches to the house and get the landscaping under way. The weather just now is delightful. We have warm sunny days and cool mornings and evenings. Autumn is coming to the mountains.

  49. You and your builders and craftsmen did an amazing job!

    • We are delighted with the house. Do you know anyone who wants to rent a lovely house in a national park in Tuscany next spring?

  50. […] Originally posted here: Casa Debbio from the beginning until the (almost) – Bagni di Lucca … […]

  51. […] post about our growing house in Vergemoli was number 9. We will be back there soon to work on the garden to have the house ready to rent in […]

  52. Deb I had no idea you purchased this beautiful place, you are so full of surprises, this is your own ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ story but where is the handsome Italian loverrrrr 🙂 I know what your reply is going to be already, I can hear you saying it…. ‘I’m not interested’ ha ha 🙂

    • We began the project several years ago and now it is alost finished. I have no romantic notions about Italian men.

  53. That was me, Sandra but it came up anonymous, out of practice posting on your blogs.

  54. […] now have telephone and internet access and the heating is working at Casa Debbio. You can’t see these things, so I will show the the amazing sunrise we were treated to a […]

  55. what a lovely project! and I’m amazed at how (relatively) quickly you got it done. I’ve heard such terrible stories about getting planning approvals over there. I will certainly keep your beautiful Casa in mind if I come with a group. Marnie

    • It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but we are happy with the end product. I am now heading back to keep working on the garden, which is coming along very nicely.

  56. You certainly have to be very brave to undertake such a project but I can see that you have a good team of willing workers I would say well done to you all I hope that you will be very happy there!

  57. What a wonderful project. It was great to see the progress through your photos. I am envious of people who can see a pile of rubble and envision what it could look like. Then turn that vision into reality. Well done.
    We are so looking forward to our stay in your home in September.

    • The house has been finished for 3 years. The garden is a work in progress. We planted a new terrace below the house last year and we are adding to it this year. It was a very hot summer last year and we lost a few plants, but it has been great to see the growth in some and to see the hydrangeas and peonies appear from nothing. Today we are planting the geraniums for the summer. I have just woken up to the sound of woodpeckers and a thousand other birds. I hope you like our house as much as we do.

  58. What a wonderful achievement. Have enjoyed all the photos and stories over the years and just love the final outcome. Such a great story and such a beautiful mountain house in Italy. Congrats. It only came with hard work , a load of tenacity and patience. And oh yes a lump of money invested. Good on you and Jim.

    • Yes, lotsof effort by a lot of people.

  59. What an amazing journey Deb!!! Congratulations to you both!! And yes – I’ll be visiting one day xx

    • This post was written a few years ago. We have done lots of work on the garden since. It is really taking shape.

  60. You had an amazing vision and such a gorgeous house now! What a magical hard worked dream 🙂

    • We had some vision, but much was trial and error. We are constantly improving things here at Casa Debbio.

  61. A great effort with wonderful results.

    • It is still a work in progress where the garden is concerned.

  62. It is undeniably an amazing accomplishment! Your home is so beautiful

    • Thank you. We are still working on the garden. This spring it was the best ever.

  63. We have done the same thing with our villa in Le Marche since we found our ruin in 2004. It’s an incredible experience isn’t it?

    • It has been mostly great. I certainly love the result.

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