Matera Villa House Sitting Duties
Our house sitting duties in Italy were simple but challenging. They entailed feeding three chickens and collecting the eggs daily, cleaning the coop every few days and ensuring the ‘Henriettas’ were happy so they could provide us with lovely fresh eggs every morning…which they did beautifully almost every day we were there. We were responsible for maintaining the fantastic infinity pool, ensuring it was cleaned regularly, chemicals balanced and water topped up. This became a challenge as there seemed to be a leak in the pool, and the high temperatures evaporated much more water than usual, so topping it up was a daily exercise. We did have contractors arrive to fix the leak, but it took them two visits to finally stem the flow. Also on the list was to ensure the vegetable garden, olive groves and fig trees were all watered, the vegetables harvested and the gardens weeded and that the patio tubs and plants were thriving. Again, this was not a difficult job and we really did benefit from some lovely vegetables, tomatoes and strawberries, but as the drought situation worsened, more water was needed.
And this was where it became challenging….
The villa was not connected to mains water but instead had three large tanks which Marcel had to fill on a regular and eventually, daily basis. This entailed him driving a truck, with a 1000 litre tank attached to the flatbed, a couple of miles down the road to a water tap, filling the tank, driving it back and then emptying the water into whichever tank needed replenishing. The drive wasn’t far but the steep driveway and potted roads made for a treacherous journey. Along with
contending with stray dogs, snakes and a steep, grassy incline to get to the tap, Marcel also had to contend with some rather irate neighbors who thought we were using all the water. The fact was there was a drought situation and the authorities had cut the water supply to a bare minimum and some houses that were on the grid were not getting their usual amount of water. Still, with a few hand gestures and smiles he managed to deal with them. Another neighbor
advised that someone was stealing the water from our tap - each household on the pipeline had their own tap - so we then had to buy a padlock and contrive a locking system so that they could not take the water. As time went on the drought situation became worse…the flow of water in the pipe was cut so what was originally one trip early in the morning, became a thrice daily trip taking 90 minutes a trip to drive, fill, drive back and empty. The hotter it became the more water was needed to fill the pool, fill the irrigation tank and of course fill the tank for the house water.
The villa was also an Airbnb, and the owners had four sets of guests arriving during the time we were there. During those times we were given accommodations in two nearby towns of Matera and Genosa, but we still had to maintain the water situation, the garden and chickens and ensure that the house was ready for guests. We had to collect the cleaning lady from her home on those days before guests arrived and both she and I would clean the house while Marcel ensured all the outside areas were swept clean and the pool ready for the guests. We would then greet the guests, welcome them with an array of fresh veggies, Marcel’s wonderful bread and a bottle of wine or champagne. Each day we would drive from the town to the villa to conduct the water runs, see to the chickens, check and water the veggie garden and ensure that the guests were happy.
At the same time, the house was for sale and going under auction. Being realtors we were able to liaise with the auction company and we staged the villa ready for photographing. We met with a representative from the company and gave him an overview of the property, promoting all its great amenities and characteristics..
We really enjoyed our duties for the most part. It was a little stressful with regard to the water situation, but we met some lovely people from all over the world, enjoyed a beautiful villa, toured a great deal of southern Italy and enjoyed the fresh food, wine and friendship of the Italian people. A great adventure with many stories still to tell.
Oh, and the villa did sell for a very good price!
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