Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 17, 2016

A renovator’s delight

When I wander through the ancient villages and the countryside around Bagni di Lucca I see hundreds of abandoned houses. I find them fascinating and wonder about the people who lived in them.

I came upon this crumbling treasure on the way to Prato Fiorito. It was part of a little group of buildings that would have been a farmer’s property.

abandoned house

I can imagine a young family moving into the newly finished house, planting a garden, keeping animals. Did they like living here? Where did they go and why?

Abandoned house

The stone walls would have required months of back breaking work and now they are left to fall apart.

abandoned house

Care was taken with the door and windows. Was the house a cool refuge in the summer? Were they warm by the fire in winter?

I hope the people who lived here had some happy times. They certainly lived in a beautiful place. I hope they had time to sit and admire the view when they weren’t working.

abandoned house

abandoned house

abandoned house

They must have missed it when they left.


  1. We ended up buying an apartment in Pienza in November, after the US elections. We have been staying there for several months every Fall, and sometimes in the Spring. We will be there longer now. Our place doesn’t need work, but we will find furniture at second hand stores. You are always welcomed to come and stay.

    • That is wonderful news! I love Pienza, and you must come our way too.

  2. The views are splendid. You know how much we love buying old buildings and restoring them, but I should add that this is not a hobby for amateurs. And the amount of work that can be done by yourself is limited. You need registered tradesmen, not handymen, as Council requires certificates for every job. Also, most ruins will require underpinning, which is very costly. But in any case, bringing back to life an old, derelict building, is a rewarding exercise. Oh, and multiply your original budget by two. Just to avoid nasty surprises….

    • I think this one is too far gone, like our pile of rocks in Vergemoli. We pulled the ticks down and started again.

  3. I would also love to know the reasons behind the many houses and villages that are now left to deteriorate. Obviously the common reasons would be employment opportunities, health issues and isolation from modern conveniences. That said, it would be fascinating to know the history behind the rubble we see today.

    • Something major must have happened to cause people to leave their homes behind.

  4. I really wonder about abandoned houses too. There must be such stories behind them. Especially the really grand ones!

    • I have met the granddaughter of one of the owners of our pile of rocks. It was great to hear some stories of the house.

  5. This particular ruin looks a lot like a metato to me but I’m not sure. We have several buildings that looks like this and were told to leave as is as future proof that the spot is buildable. I’m old enough to remember when those metati were actually used for chestnut storage.

    • The ruins were a small group of buildings, so it is quite possible that one was a metato. It is difficult to tell when the roof has gone.

  6. Like as not some old fella lived there til he died. Then with the children moved away to the city and no indoor plumbing it was left for the trees. So tell me? Why did you decide to build a brand new home there – as opposed to renovating an existing older place. I am thinking it was because you had the land first? c

    • We bought a hectare of land with a ruin on it. The house was too far gone to rebuild. The roof was gone, one of the side walls had a huge crack in it and most of the building had fallen down. It was not in the best position on the terrace so we rebuilt the house about 50 metres away where the terrace was wider. The house was rebuilt in exactly the same dimensions as the old house. All the windows and doors are in the same place according to regulations. What we really bought was the right to rebuild as the house is in a national park. You can’t build in a national park, but you can rebuild an existing house. I have documented the build on the blog.

      • Yes I have followed your building it but did not realise you used the old footprint – how lovely – kind of a nod to history incorporating it into the modern home. I love it! c

  7. Fab photos Deb…. Yes I too can imagine the countless generations who lived and toiled in such magnificent countryside . I doubt it was an easy life and left little time for simple pleasure but I’m sure they were happy. In the times of little stone cottages happiness was a relative concept which would not be accepted today !!! Jxx

    • I would like to think there were some happy times in this beautiful place.

  8. Possibly ended up immigrating to Australia

    • Most of our Italians came from the south. People from this area usually went to America.

  9. Too bad the stones can’t talk…. but at least they can admire the view!

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