New cellar, old door

by Laura Gray on June 10, 2011

Last week Marco and our architect, Marco Pignattai, undertook a long drive to the province of Cuneo in Piedmont, a town bizarrely famous for being the home to Italy’s worst drivers. They went to inspect a door for our new cellar. It’s an early 18th century portone from a Piemontese convent, made of solid dark cherry wood and studded with nails.

The suffix “-one” in Italian means a bigger version of something; a simple door is a porta but we were looking for a portONE. Similarly a palazzo is a palace, but the original building here on site was a PalazzONE. The cellar has been designed to be as unobtrusive as possible both in terms of visual and environmental impact so recycling an existing door makes sense for us. We were looking specifically for an antique door with a wicket gate; a smaller door embedded in the large door (a person-flap of sorts). In Italian this is called a portINA – the suffix –ina/o signifies smallness.

This is perfect for a cellar since it means that when people are coming in and out they can use the portina but not the portone. At some times of the year it can be very useful to limit the exchange of air between inside and outside; to stop flies coming in during fermentation or to prevent changes in temperature due to extremes of heat and cold.

So now we’ve found The Door. It’s 240 cm wide, 280 cm tall (about 8 feet by 9 feet), with original wrought ironwork and is ready to go. Of course we’ll need to build the cellar first. The foundations only went down on Monday… è un lavorone!

The door emporium:

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