Welcome to La Pietra
La Pietra means stone in Italian, a reference to the dramatic sheer wall of stone that slopes down behind the house. The house was in ruins when we bought it. Great care was taken in the restoration to balance the look and feel of a traditional casa colonica, with the comforts of home. A large photograph in the upstairs hall and a photo album in the living room record the restoration process. We use the house ourselves and have tried to make it comfortable and personal. We hope that you will enjoy it as we do, and that it will provide a special introduction to the pleasures of this extraordinary corner of central Italy. Please take a minute to read the following house information as you are settling in.
Your house manager, Elizabeth Wholey, who lives about 15 minutes away on the road to Niccone, will greet you. Should you have any problems you cannot resolve on your own, you can call Elizabeth on her cell phone at 338-331-7493.
Each of the floors has its own set of keys. Upstairs there is a key for the security grate (make complete turn twice to lock or unlock) and one for the front door. Downstairs there are keys for the front and back bedrooms and for both kitchen doors, with corresponding security grate keys. You will be familiarized with the keys during the house walk through. Please be sure to return all keys to the desk by the phone upstairs before you leave.
An energy allowance for electricity and gas has been built into the rental fee. Please conserve electricity and propane: re-use towels, turn out the lights, turn down the heat at night and when you leave the house. We want you to be comfortable; however, we ask that you please be conservative with the utilities, which are very expensive in Italy.
Each floor has its own gas-fueled hot water heater and gas meter. Both hot water heaters are downstairs. For the upper floor, it is located in the kitchen. The lower floor heater is in the laundry room. The gas meters are under the small “roof” just outside the lower kitchen door. Everything should be properly adjusted when you arrive. In case of an emergency: A green light means the heater is on. To turn it off, turn the main valve to the straight up and down position. The light will go off. To turn it back on, turn the valve to the sunshine (summer) or snowflake (winter) position, as appropriate. Water and radiator temperatures should both be set at 6 or 7.
The heating system upstairs is divided into two sectors – the kitchen/living room and the bedrooms/baths – so that you can heat the front during the day (or back at night) without incurring the cost of heating the entire floor. The upper floor thermostat for the front of the house is next to the fireplace. The thermostat for the bedrooms is in the hallway. On the lower floor, the thermostat is in the connecting corridor. 15° centigrade is equal to about 60°F, while 20°C is about 70°F. As you turn it up, you will hear it click on.
Italian houses do not have the unlimited access to electricity that is generally true in America. Most houses have 3 kilowatts of available energy. This house has more, but that does not mean all the appliances can be run at the same time. Please be attentive to overloading the circuits.
The main switch and main meter, which is read by the electric company, is behind the gray, plastic door in the “little house” marked Enel at the start of the driveway that leads to the parking area. When everything is working properly, the large black switch is in the up position and the meter wheel is turning. This is the “watchdog” switch.
Inside the house, in each kitchen, there is a breaker box for the floor. When the switches are in the up position they are on.
Two things are likely to trip the circuit breakers:
- Overuse of appliances or power:
Minor overuse results in simply tripping the interior breaker (on either floor) without affecting the overall electrical panel in the pump room or the main switch in the drive.
- Electrical storms
Occasionally electrical storms will cause a power surge that trips the main circuits affecting the entire house and the general panel.
In either case, the situation is easily remedied. Simply turn off some of the appliances, or wait until the storm has passed. After, check all the circuit breaker boxes beginning with those inside the house, then the main switch and the breakers outside on the driveway. If the circuit breakers are in the down position, throw them into the up position. If all the switches in all the breaker boxes are already in the up position and there is no power, it probably means the problem is in town at the main station. At that point, content yourself with candles until the electrical company gets things up and running (often within 4 hours). This is not a regular occurrence, but it does happen more often than in America.
There is plenty of available current in the house as long as you are somewhat careful about not turning everything on at once. For instance, you can run the washing machine and dryer at the same time, but if you add the dishwasher, the vacuum cleaner and the ventilated oven you may be asking for trouble… or at least temporary darkness.
The wifi password is umbria5858. Please read the typed sheet on the desk. The cost for this service, payable in advance to the house manager, is 20 euros per week per house, which includes telephone calls, including to the US.
Internet Trouble Shooting:
In the event you have trouble connecting with the internet, try this one, easy step: in the back of the 4” x 6” white box, unplug the electrical source plug. All lights will go out. Wait 10 seconds and plug it back in. If it still doesn’t come on, call Elizabeth or Paola.
VERY IMPORTANT: Do not push the Reset button or we will lose all the access codes and a technician will be required to install the wifi again.
Phone charges: We have Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephones and your phone calls will be very inexpensive, even to the US, so we have included them in the 20 euro charge for wifi. You will not be able to use phone cards with this system. Note that there is a delay in connecting.
If you call a number in Italy outside our 075 area code, you will need to know the area code for that region. For example, when calling Florence you will need to dial 055 before the number. For Rome, 06.
The phone number for upper La Pietra is as follows:
- From the US: 011-39-075-997-5125
- From within Europe: 0039-075-997-5125
- From within Italy: 075-997-5125
The phone numbers for all the houses are:
La Pietra upper floor 075-997-5125 La Pietra lower floor 075-997-5124
Casa Carina 075-997-5126
La Queria upper floor 075-997-5128 La Quercia lower floor 075-997-5127
Italian EMERGENCY and SERVICE numbers:
- Police 113
- Ambulance/Medical Emergency 118
- Hospital in Umbertide (via Forlanini) 075 941-5944
- Forest Fires (Vigili del Fuoco) 115
- Information for all of Italy 12
- International Information 176
- English Speaking Operator 15
Note that some “plugs” in sinks are opened and closed by pressing down.
Washing Machine (Upstairs)
- Load clothes in the machine. Don’t fill it more than about three-quarters full.
- Pour 50ml of detergent into dispenser cup.
- Open drawer at top left of washing machine and pour detergent into left-hand channel.
- Close the door firmly.
- Press the On/Off button.
- Press the (programme) button until the light next to Cotoni is on.
- Press the (temperature) button until the light next to 30 is on.
- Press the spin speed button (the spiral) until the light next to 1400 is on.
- Press the options button until the light next to Rapido is on.
- Press the Avvio/Pause (start/pause) button.
- The cycle takes 1 hour and 39 minutes. The machine is locked while the cycle is in progress and the door cannot be opened. The machine will beep when it’s done.
- Leave the door wide open in between loads, or the machine will get mildewy.
- Load the dryer no more than half-full.
- Remove the condensation receptacle (the drawer at the top left of the machine) and empty it. (When the weather is hot, consider emptying it onto the plants outside.)
- Remove lint from the lint filter, in the bottom of the doorway.
- Shut the door firmly.
- Press the On/Off button so the lights come on.
- Turn the dial to select Cotoni Eco.
- The Livello Asciugatura (drying level) will automatically set to Normal Dry .
- Press the (start/pause )button so that the light in it stays on, will run 2 hours.
For the cheapest and most effective cycle:
- Load machine (do not block upper rotor) and add soap cube to the pocket on the door. Click pocket flap closed. DO NOT USE LIQUID SOAP!
- Close dishwasher door firmly
- Set right hand program dial to “Rapido” (brief cycle)
- Push in “Avviso” button and light goes on
- When cycle is finished, press Avviso again so that light goes off
- Open door by pulling latch under the word “Bosch”. Open door a bit and let dishes cool and dry off a bit before unloading machine.
Gas Range/Cook Top/Smaller Oven
- Cook Top: Turn appropriate knob ¼ turn, press and hold down to ignite flame. Back up plan, use a match.
- Oven: In order for the oven to work, the timer must be set, along with the temperature and the setting.
- Set temperature knob (far right) to desired temperature (350°F is about 177°C).
- Turn knob left of temperature knob to desired setting. Panel light on left will go on. First position turns on the oven light; second position is the standard oven function; third position is the convection oven (circulates air around the food to make it cook faster and more evenly); fourth position is the broiler.
- Knob at the far left is the timer
- Be sure to turn the oven off after cooking. Knob will be straight up and down and the panel light off.
Professional Stove (Upstairs)
In the upstairs unit of La Pietra, our larger Professional oven on the right has more settings than the smaller oven. On the knob on the far left, clockwise from “0” they are: Defrost, Fan-Assisted Cooking, Even Cooking, Maxi Broil with Fan-Assisted Oven and Rotisserie, Maxi Broil and Rotisserie, Broil or Rotisserie, Cooking from Above, Cooking from Below, and Oven Light. Stovetop: Light the small burner in the lower left, hold it down, and the other burners will light.
Microwave Oven (Upstairs)
To open, pull down the oven door toward you from the top. The instruction book is in the bottom drawer, next to the refrigerator.
There are hair dryers in the bathrooms; steam irons, ironing boards and vacuum cleaners in the hall closets; and an American style coffeemaker in the kitchen.