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Tue, 03/19/2013 - 09:51

I have just organised a Telecom line for a friend. A new line had to be run to the house and the client pays a proportion of the cost - in this case it came to 2700 euro and it took more than six months and a great deal of chasing. Before deciding on having a phone line, I would look at a fast internet service - see for example - because with a really fast connection, a Skype phone and one of the Skype unlimited call tariffs is much less expensive than Telecom and the call quality is good. This would also be a much faster option - you could have it installed and working within weeks rather than months. I have no vested interest - this is just an option I'm considering for myself. Friends have just signed up and I'm waiting with interest to see how well it works for them.

Sun, 11/11/2012 - 15:45

if you haven't already done so, I would suggest finding someone in the area who uses their service to check how well it operates. I have used two Tooway connections in another area, and both were extremely slow and frequently didn't work at all.

Sun, 07/29/2012 - 22:09

Rachel - I have been working on tiles this week, gradually finding out what works best for me. Here's what I did - hope some of this is helpful for you. I have a roofed terrace at the front entrance which was tiled with old floor tiles reclaimed from the original building. Before beginning construction, we had sorted through them, scrubbed them with acid and rinsed and stacked them. After they were laid and grouted we firstly cleaned off the dirt with a pressure washer (not an option for internal floors!), then I scrubbed them with Geal Acido 13H3. Since it wasn't a large area (6.5sq.m) I just did it with a scrubbing brush, rubber gloves, on my hands and knees. Then rinsed it off with the pressure cleaner and left it to dry. Some of the tiles had patches of white paint and the surface was rough in places so I decided to try out sanding them with a hand-held sander and coarse paper. It worked surprisingly well - I didn't want to remove all evidence of past use but I wanted the terracotto colour to show. I debated about rinsing the tiles after sanding but opted to just use the vacuum cleaner to remove all the dust. The preparation is the hardest part. Applying the finishes was straightforward. Since the terrace won't receive heavy wear I applied two coats of Geal Base for water and stain resistance. There are various ways it can be applied. I usually just pour a small quantity and spread it with a large paintbrush over about half a square meter, working my way across the floor. You can also wipe it on with a cloth but make sure it is lint free. A coarse-textured microfibre cloth works well. Allow an hour to two hours drying time then apply a second coat. In addition to sealing the surface, Base has a levelling effect and also helps the finishing coat to grip. I applied 3 coats of Woplus Lucido to finish because I like a low sheen but Woplus is also available in satin and matt finishes. Woplus is a milky liquid that can be brushed on or spread with a cloth. It is visibly white after application but dries clear. The coats should be quite thin - if pools of Woplus are left, they'll remain milky when dry. I could send you a before and after photo if I knew how to. I have also been working on terracotta tiles for the interior floors, as previously discussed. I bought plain rectangular tiles in unfinished terracotta with a reasonably smooth surface. They are not lovely handmade new tiles, or lovely old tiles unfortunately, because of cost. Since they are new and uniform in thickness they will be laid with glue. Even though they are new, there is a powdery residue on the surface from the manufacturing process which needs to be removed with acid washing, Acido 13H3 again, but this time diluted 50% with water. I decided to do the acid wash and apply one sealant coat before they are laid. It was an easy job - production line outside working on planks laid on trestles - scrub, rinse, leave to dry (in today's heat, it certainly didn't take long). Then I painted on one coat of Geal Barrier 2 sealant. It is much more expensive than Base but gives better stain resistance. I have used it before on old tiles and it was well worth the cost.  After the tiles have been laid, I'll clean them, then apply another coat of Barrier, one coat of Base (for its levelling and gripping qualities rather than as a sealant), then three coats of Woplus. I have tried this out on sample tiles and I like the result. I have also tried rubbing oil, lemon juice, coffee and balsamic on the finished tile and it was completely resistant to staining. If doing large areas, it might be worth using machinery to clean the tiles rather than scrubbing by hand. And I would certainly get someone in to sand the tiles with a proper machine if using old or rough-surfaced tiles (my interior tiles won't need sanding because the surface is smooth). It costs 18 - 20 euro per sq.m and it's worthwhile because it enhances the colour and makes the surface smooth enough to be moppable. 

Sat, 07/14/2012 - 19:52

Most helpful, thanks, Fillide. I'll have to report back on my stain testing results. I wouldn't have thought of using hand cream - I rarely remember to put it on my hands, let alone the floor - and I had no idea mozzarella juice was acid. In fact, as I write this I'm realising that when I accused my partner of marking a travertine counter top with lemon juice last week, which he hotly denied, he must in fact have done the damage with mozzarella liquid, it being the season for caprese salad. Barrier is much more expensive than Base so I'm assuming that it provides better water and stain resistance. Thanks for the suggestion of asking the tile makers about adhesive and for the site links. I'm considering it because it will reduce the amount of moisture in the house that will need to dry out, and will perhaps leave the tiles cleaner after laying. The floors have been completely rebuilt so they are a good, level surface and the tiles, being new, are of uniform thickness so I think adhesive should be a suitable laying method.

Fri, 07/13/2012 - 19:11

I recently chose 15 x 30 plain, untreated terracotta floor tiles from one of the long-established Tuscan manufacturers (they aren't what I would like, but the choice was dictated by cost and they'll suffice). I asked their man what finishing treatment he would recommend and he said to clean them with Geal acid wash, then apply two coats of Base or Barrier, followed by two finishing coats of Woplus which comes in a low sheen or a matt finish. I was pleased to hear this because it is exactly the technique I have used in the past with success and I like Geal products and all the info on their site. I have applied various combinations of the products to several sample tiles and I'm about to try out their stain and water resistance before deciding exactly how to proceed. I'm thinking of washing the tiles and applying one coat of sealant before they are laid (because, Fillide, anything I can do at a comfortable working height rather than on my knees or from the top of a ladder, sounds good to me). I'll only be treating the top surface so I don't think it should case problems with the grout failing to adhere - in any case, many tiles are sold pre-finished. Of course the tiles will still need to be cleaned after they have been laid and grouted, but it should be an easier job thanks to the sealant. Fillide - what is your view on laying tiles with glue rather than cement? If it's relevant, my tiles are only 1.6cm thick. I'll have them laid by a tradesman and just do the cleaning/sealing/finishing myself so it's not the technique I'm interested in, just the pros and cons of the two methods.

Sun, 06/10/2012 - 11:07

Thanks for this suggestion - I already have a compressor and hadn't thought of using it for plaster removal.

Sat, 06/09/2012 - 20:14

We are engaged in this delightful process at present. A jack hammer is needed for cement - easy enough to use but heavy and noisy. Other plaster can often be removed with hammer and a chisel-like tool (can't think of the name). Some of ours turns out to be more like a mud mixture than plaster - comes off quite easily. We find that goggles are needed, and a mask wouldn't be a bad idea.

Sat, 06/09/2012 - 20:02

As Fillide says,  there are two levels of smoothing: carteggiata (takes off the surface roughness and reveals the colour of the cotto) which is a dry process and lucidatura (makes the tiles perfectly smooth, uses water and hence makes more mess - lower area of walls will need to be masked if already finished, brings up even more of the colour). It's a matter of personal preference - for me, the first is a more rustic look, the second is an elegant finish. Some new tiles have a rough surface which is intended to be smoothed after laying, which also removes cement and other construction stains. If these tiles are left unfinished, it's impossible to mop the tiles because of the rough finish. I visited one of the long-established terracotta tile makers and asked about their recommended finish for their various tiles that don't have a factory finish. I was told to apply two coats of Geal Base (or Barrier - more expensive but gives higher water and stain resistence) the two or three coats of Woplus, either opaco or lucido, depending on whether you want a light, wax-style sheen, or a matt finish. This was most gratifying as it is exactly the process I had used to refinish old tile floors in the past, with very good results. These Geal products are environmentally friendly, and very easy to apply - just wipe or brush the milky liquid over cleaned, smoothed tiles and leave to dry. Wash with a dash of their neutral cleaner CB90 and about once each year, depending on traffic, apply another finish coat. Unlike the traditional wax finish, these products don't build up over the years, and don't attract dust - instead they are gradually worn down and replenished when necessary.   The product Base is also great for sealing exposed stone walls, new or old - scrub them down, remove the dust (I use the vacuum cleaner, probably not recommended by the manufacturer!), and paint on the Base. It is completely invisible and doesn't change the colour of the stone but it stops the stone from shedding dust and grit and protects it from staining. I had to use new chestnut beams - couldn't reuse the old beams because their size didn't meet the building code. I wanted a light, aged look so I applied a coat of anti-borer (time will tell whether it has been effective) then sanded them and applied a coat of well-diluted limewash. I then removed most of the limewash, once it had dried, with a fibre pad that substitutes for sand paper, leaving some limewash in the grain of the timber. Then two coats of a clear, low-sheen timber finish. All of this was done before installation of the beams. With hindsight, I think I should have applied the timber finish to the upper, unseen side of the beam as well because any moisture that gets into the timber during construction brings tannin to the surface. Removing some tannin stains that have appeared is our current challenge - anyone out there have suggestions? Now I understand why beams are so often dark-stained.

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 04:23

The two online banking systems that I use both have a section for payment using the F24 form. It pops up, with some of your details already entered. You then just have to add the additional information from the F24 supplied by the accountant and click on make payment. You can print the form for your records and you can also download and print a record of payment (quietanza di versamento) Gala, I agree that even the higher rate of IMU is a reasonable price to pay (especially when compared to property tax levels in the UK and California, for example)  and those that I quoted are for luxury homes with non-resident owners so many home owners e.g. Badger will be paying much lower rates.

Tue, 06/05/2012 - 18:42

I pay IMU for various non-resident friends - their commercialista emails me the F24 and I make the payments online, which is quick and straightforward. So far, the two I have paid have been significantly higher than the amount paid for the June payment last year - 754 instead of 434,  856 instead of 492.