Borgo Sotto l'Arco (Under theArchway) is a hamlet of four houses overlooking Ponti di Pornassio, a peaceful hilltown in the Western Liguria, inland from the coastal city of Imperia, on a very good State Highway n.28, (that leads from doormat to beach mat in twenty eight minutes.)
The houses were built between the seventeenth and eighteenth century. They have been completely restored from the ground up by their owner/designer (a longtime expatriate who previously worked in San Francisco and New York). Therefore their roofs, floors, electrical and plumbing and heating systems, windows and doors are entirely new. While carrying out this work every effort was made to use the natural materials of the area, (i.e. chestnut beams and window frames, antique parquet and mosaic floors, slate stone details, in order to create an elegant and functional environment within a modern luminous layout.
The individual houses
Casa Glicine/Wisteria House, (165 square metres + 14 square metre terrace)
Casa Glicine is the largest of the four houses. It is composed of three floors and two adjoining gardens and has a South East/South West exposure.
On the ground floor is the entrance to the house. In this room the central heating pellet furnace, the laundry facilities and an antique chestnut closet are situated. To the East there is a guest bedroom with its own bathroom, and access to a small conservatory taking you out to the lower garden. A large curved staircase leads up to the kitchen dining room that seats eight. This room has floor to ceiling glass windows adjoining the main terrace. Next to the kitchen is a double height study/loft guest room, also connected to the terrace via full length double glazed windows. On the other side of the kitchen is the double height living room with a fireplace, an antique piano, and a double glazed door leading out to the upper patio. Three steps down from the kitchen is the master bathroom, and an ample storage room.
On the top floor is the master bedroom with its own curved en suite bathroom, and panoramic windows overlooking the valley and the full moon. The floors of the rooms are either larchwood parquet or mosaic tiles. All of the windows are double glazed. The house also features a ten square meter double solar heating system, (on the roof) both for hot water and for the made to order copper radiators, which serve both the Casa Glicine and the Rosa Antica/Antique Rose house.
Rosa Antica/Antique Rose (60 square metres)
Rosa Antica is a multilevel loft open space, compact and functional. The entrance to the house is through the courtyard under the archway.
On the ground floor is the kitchen/dining area and the bathroom. There is also a characteristic cast iron stove. The stairs then lead to the living area, and a few more steps up to the bedroom area.
On the top level is the mini-office walkway leading to a mosaic tiled roof terrace. The house has large double glazed windows and from the terrace one can gaze at the surroundings in all four directions.
Casa Menta/Mint House(162 square metres + 34 square metre terrace)
Casa Menta is the highest house on the property, built on three levels. Each floor is a large open space that serves several functions.
The house has two entrances, from the ground floor and via a curved exterior staircase to the first floor. The ground floor houses the study/guestroom plus a large sculptural master bathroom.
A freeform staircase, in the manner of Gaudi leads up to the floor above that serves as kitchen-dining and living area. This floor features an original Castellamonte octagonal stove and a restored parquet floor from the seventeenth century, (originally in a palace in Piazza Castello in Torino.) This room has a floor to ceiling double glazed wall leading to its panoramic mosaic tiled terrace and breathtaking view. A wide glass enclosed staircase takes you up to the top level in which there is a double sized master bedroom (which could be easily divided in two) and its own bathroom, also with a majestic view of the valley and mountains. Behind the house is its private garden plot.
The house also has a large room on the ground floor of the section where the terrace is, 28m2 with eleven foot ceiling, with its own entrance, and connected to the central heating system. It has a parquet floor and a plumbing and drain line installed. It could be equipped with a bathroom and used as separate guest lodgings, or used as a common room for the four houses of the property.
Casa Dahlia /Dahlia House(65 square metres)
Casa Dahlia is built on two floors, each of which have an entrance to the street, as the village road slopes upward.
The top floor has a double height living room, with an original rebuilt full size pizza oven. It has stairs leading up to a loft bed, windows overlooking the valley, and a large bathroom.
The lower floor has the kitchen dining area, a wood stove, a guest sofa/ bed and a door and stairs leading down to its own patio garden, for outdoor dining, with, among other flowers, a giant dahlia. All of its windows are double glazed made to order of seasoned larchwood.
Area3,137 m2. Garden, woodland, olive and fruit trees, terraces. The surrounding land of terraced olive groves, and a variety of hardy fruit bearing trees: peach, apricot, cherry, kiwi, four varieties of plum, persimmon, pear, almond, and several palms, along with strawberry patches and many kinds of roses. The unique position in the valley gives the property its own micro-climate that is much milder in the Winter and more ventilated in the Summer than the surrounding neighborhood.
At the highest point of the terraces there is a ‘belvedere’ on which a 5 by 6 metre splash pond to cool off in is being constructed, (and should be finished by February). This point in the land dominates the entire valley.
The Private Road
The property is accessed via a eighty metre long private road shored up by four very sturdy retaining walls. It provides parking for three compact cars, (four in a pinch.) However the actual village road, which was built for underfed donkeys, not over fed modern vehicles will only accommodate a compact car, (i.e. Matiz, Panda, Smart, Porter.
The houses are connected to the electrical, water , sewer and village gas-(bombolone) mains, with their own metres. The large pellet furnace that runs in parallel with the solar system for Casa Glicine and Rosa Antica could be switched over to gas, but is at present much less costly to run with pellets. The Casa Menta has a complete gas system. The Casa Dahlia could have either a pellet or gas installation to complement its wood stove and pizza oven. All of the properties have the highest quality double glazed windows.
The village of Ponti di Pornassio and the neighboring town of Pieve di Teco.The village, (frazione of Ponti) was incorporated in 1280, the town of Pornassio to which it belongs has its own castle. There is also has a grocery store, a small hotel and two restaurants, in the frazione itself. Pornassio, a kilometer up the hill has a pharmacy, a mechanic and a general store. Three miles down the road is the historic town of Pieve di Teco, with its elegant medieval arcades, and many kinds of stores/restaurants for all daily needs. It is on its way to becoming the Slow Food/Locavore center for the province of Imperia, and features a huge range of handmade, hand cultivated edibles, from pastry to boar stew, as the area historically grew all it might need to eat, and takes cooking very seriously.