20 December 2010

Heating the Old Fashioned Way

Il Caminetto

The news this weekend has been about the severe winter weather across much of Europe, we had our first taste of winter in the mountains of Lucania last week. There was a week of temperatures at or just below freezing with two days when we had a small amount of snow. I enjoy snow…for a day, or at a distance. We had enough snow last year in Virginia (140cm) to hold us over for many years to come.

The cold weather has kept me busy hauling wood from our cantina to the house as our primary heating source is a caminetto. These are common in this area and are not much more than a small hole about 14” wide at floor level with a wide tile hearth. The fire is built at the opening, not back in the fireplace, and the smoke draws up the chimney while the heat radiates out. We supplement this with a stufa elettrica (electric heater) in the bedroom that has a timer so it is warm when we go to bed and get up in the morning.

Since our house has a southern exposure with large windows this set-up works well on sunny days. However, a couple cloudy and cold days in a row and we are huddled with Lucano under our wool blanket to ward off the chill.

My years of Scouting and fire building is getting regular practice and fortunately Valerie and I did enough camping and picnic grilling in New Mexico that she is no slacker at building and stocking the fire.

However, since winter doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, we may be looking at other heating alternative for next year.


Louise at Abbastanza Buono said...

I highly recommend a freestanding stufa. Much more efficient and you can probably heat the whole apartamento with it. You can probably use the existing chimney and with a glass door you will still have the ambiance of flickering flames. If we had ever spent a winter in our house near Lucca it would have been our first purchase. We have one in our US house near Seattle and only use it to heat our family room (20x20 ft.). It keeps the room at about 75 degrees even on the coldest days. Buon natale e tanti auguri per 2011.

Bryan said...

Louise - A stufa is definitely one of the options we are looking at and yes we can connect to the existing chimney. Fortunately it is warmer and dryer here than in Lucca.