What color is your house?

Sometimes my dreams run away with me. A month or so ago (just as things were getting very stressful here in Italy with the whole citizenship crisis) I decided that rather than living in Italy, I wanted to move to France, buy a castle, and make it into a bed and breakfast.

It arose from a little discussion Tony and I have frequently. It starts with him looking out the window of the bus (we take a lot of busses, since we don’t have a car in Italy) and saying, “I really like that yellow house.” Most of the houses here are yellow, and he likes them all. Most of them are three or four stories high and completely square. They look like they’re built out of blocks. They usually have balconies all around, and the ubiquitous red geraniums peeking out of window boxes all along the balcony.

I admire the Italian way with flowers. I’ve never been very good at keeping plants alive, but I’m practicing. Tony got me a lovely red maple bonsai after we’d been in Italy for two weeks. Over the few days after he bought it, all the leaves turned green. I’d never known a tree to do it backwards like that before. Perhaps it’s because it is a bonsai. In any case, the tree is still alive and thriving over two months later. That’s the longest I’ve ever had a house plant.

I like the flowers, but I’m not that crazy about the houses. They look like apartment complexes, and they are. We live in a yellow house now that we’ve moved out of the old city in Saluzzo (well, our house is pink. but it has the character of Tony’s yellow houses). We live on the top floor of three (It’s the second floor, but that’s not counting the “ground” floor). It’s an attic with a sloping ceiling. However, since the Italians habitually have high ceilings, it doesn’t slope very low anywhere, and the highest part is at least as high as those San Diego “vaulted ceilings” that make the top floor apartments more expensive.

I like the ceilings, but the houses here are just too square. The castles are too square, too. We call the castle up the hill from our house “Hotel Saluzzo.” It’s a squat, square block. Impregnable, I’m sure, but hardly beautiful. That’s why I decided to move to France. French castles look like they ought to be in a fairytale. Blue, with grey slate roofs and lots of charming turrets and towers, and lovely gardens. I want a French castle. Or a cute little French cottage to renovate. But definitely a blue house. Not a yellow one.