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Have I mentioned that we live on a narrow road? Here’s a photo of the road above our house. This is not some little back road; it is a main road connecting the Via Aurelia to the entroterra, the interior on the other side of the mountain. This road is important enough to be depicted on a map of all of Italy (scale 1/1,000,000)! It is narrow and very well traveled. And most of the houses built along it were built before car ownership was common; driveways and parking areas were not part of the original designs.

These days the State smiles on those who wish to park their cars off-road. Building permits, which are impossible to get for other reasons, materialize for projects which remove cars from the streets. Constructing these projects is easier said than done in the hills.

A couple of years ago we sold our first-born and our first-round draft picks for the next twelve years in order to build a parking platform. It was a huge project, what with the many linear feet of new walls (which these days are made of poured concrete faced with stone) and all the paperwork. The file we accumulated relating the project is 3 inches thick. We needed permits from the town, from the region, from the highway department, I think we even had to get one from God himself. Because the project was built adjacent to a state road there were a lot of engineering requirements and frequent checks by the Certified Engineer that everything was being built according to plan (Giovanni, the Human Backhoe, did the work with his merry band of Romanians). The paperwork and resultant file for the parking platform is half again larger than all the paperwork for the original restoration of the house.  And according to Giovanni, it seemed to the builders that the actual work would never end. It was a really big project. Here is the captain, dwarfed by two of the new walls we had to build (he’s running water up so he can wash his beloved Mini).  And here is the platform itself, really rather small, especially when you consider the tons of material it took to construct it.

Turns out that in the universe of possible parking patooties, our project was pretty small. Take a look at these other four projects, also on our road (Via San Maurizio di Monti):

This is the simplest project, after ours. It’s a lovely new drive with not too many new stone walls, paving, tons of new dirt, and some new trees. They had to jackhammer out a lot of rock where the drive now is; that all used to be hill. We are puzzled about the stone arch over the drive – it’s very pretty but will prevent a truck from ever approaching the house.

This one, too, is a very simple project as well, though I’ve rated it slightly more complex than the preceding because not only did they jackhammer out part of the hill, they are also building a small addition up above (new baby).

This house, a pre-fab built in the 1960’s, is actually on a rather wide part of the road. Their project has been in process for two years now and is nowhere near completion. There is a small new guest cottage that will eventually be under part of the new driveway that is being constructed. Before they could begin this phase, the actual road-building, they had to strengthen (read re-build) stone walls down below. There is a tiny figure in this photo – well actually, he’s a full-sized man, but he looks tiny because he is standing by the enormous walls.  Click on the photo to see it full size and see if you can find him.

This one is the prize-winner. This project is not only cutting a huge swath through the forested hill for a new driveway, but is also inconveniencing everyone who uses the highway as the road has been made one-lane around the work. You would think that something of this scale would provide access to a small community, but the guys doing the work told me it was leading to one house, a rustico that will be knocked down and rebuilt. This explanation was accompanied by the gesture of thumb rubbing against fingers, and the opinion that money was no object, and that ‘what they want, they have.’ This is the first of at least three switch-backs that go up the hill.  They’re using an amazing amount of concrete simply to reinforce the rocky hillside they are excavating.

So I guess there are any number of ways to get your car off the road, depending on your timetable and your wallet. Our car was scraped twice during the years we were on-street-parkers. No matter how you do it, the best place to park on this narrow, busy highway is definitely off-road.

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