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Part III: House of Horrors House of Horrors - The external surroundings

House of Horrors
This is the next in the open work-in-progress (already some elements of prior presentations are subject to updating or correction) of presentations concerning the Giallo de Perugia. The situations presented here are with ideas or event relationships which are not necessarily of my own. I have rather served as a graphic scribe of the excellent multi-point-of-view, multitimezone, and multi-cultural discussion resulting from Steve Huff’s True Crime Weblog on this tragedy: http://www.truecrimeweblog.com/. This presentation concerning the external situation of the house at the centre of the Giallo makes less (hardly any) reference to specific elements of the case, than others. It’s objective is to set the physical / geographical scene for the tragic circumstances of the crime. Since the victim has no means to reply to any comments herein or scenarios described in other presentations, and the repeated use of her name in this context would only further hurt anyone close to her, I refer to her simply as “the victim”. This is not meant by any means to trivialise the pain and suffering, and butal senseless murder she experienced, nor to reduce her memory. That was Meryl Streep on the cover slide, in the movie “A French Lieutenant’s Woman”. In the book by John Fowles (better than the movie) there are 3 forks / endings to the story. In the Giallo di Perugia, as we go through the scenarios of what may have happened in the crime, I can only hope that there will be one single ending, that justice is served to those responsible for each of the crimes which may be determined by the ILE. I am buoyed by the fact that the victim’s family has expressed confidence in the Italian justice system. - Kermit krmt123@gmail.com

House of Horrors “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone …”
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi The house. The girls’ house. AK was ecstatic about it in her blog. And the truth is, it seems like it was quite a neat place. In the early days of November as news seeped / filtered out concerning the Giallo, I needed to better visualise the house situation, both inside and out. Inside, thanks to segments of a houseplan seen on Italian TV, we could get a feel for the general layout of the cottage (the internal floorplan is being updated, will come out as a second part to this presentation). Externally, I wanted to relate the house to the town, something which is relatively easy, given the availability of on-line maps, and the timelines of key movements and locations we’ve compiled on the blog. There is another geographical dimension to the Giallo, however, which is the subject of this presentation: the house itself, why is it there, what is it’s background, are there any particular characteristics of the house or its location which could contribute to the crime? As in many projects, I’ve had to cut off the development of this presentation. I had started to get references to mysteries, legends and “bad-vibes” in Perugia (for anything unrelated to the Giallo, it’s obligatory to google with the “-Knox -Sollecito” flag). But I think it’s better and we’ll get more value out of the presentation, to get this out the door right now, having only very partially met the initial objective, and allow the True Crime Webloggers to discuss it, and orient any further presentations on the subject. That said, Perugia, and what I’m calling the Northern Cwm, is very special. From the underground Etruscan tombs in the area, to the pagan Roman temples, to the Templar knight presence (just up the road from RS’s place), to Mother Nature rocking the ground on a regular basis, and many more natural and historical events.

THE LOCATION OF THE HOUSE: House of Horrors A glance at a modern map of Perugia reinforces the understanding that it is an old, walled city. (The wall is indicated by the black line here.) Interestingly, if we ZOOM in, the girls’ house itself appears on this map …

House of Horrors
Interestingly, if we ZOOM in, the girls’ house itself appears on this map … outside of the old city walls, and at the top of the Fosso del Bulagaio ravine ...

Girls’ house

The ravine is called the Fosso del Bulagaio. The stream which carves the ravine as well. The name Bulagiao could have different explanations: bugliare = throw waste; bulicame = vein of water; buligame = depth The actual stream starts in the dense foliage just below the girls’ house.

House of Horrors
Interestingly, if we ZOOM in, the girls’ house itself appears on this map … outside of the old city walls, and at the top of the Fosso del Bulagaio ravine … …between the old city gates Porta Bulagaio and Porta Sant’Antonio. Be it originally a house or an orchard storage shed, it (like other extramural constructions) was not afforded the protection of the city walls.

Girls’ house

House of Horrors
It is difficult to find a good photo from ground level of the ravine the girls’ house was in, and virtually impossible to find old photos of that specific point. If you go much further back in time, to the early 1500’s and the papal Salt War, this sort of painted murals show the situation of Perugia. The Etruscans, Romans and Popes weren’t stupid (at least in what is related to selecting sites for strategic towns). Perugia is up on a prominent hill which offers natural protective barriers. With stone walls surrounding it, extended and pushed out as time passed, it was a fortress city. I’m not sure of the angle from which this map was created. The square tower in the middle and the adjoining long roof to the left seem to be the San Lorenzo cathedral. If (big “if”) we’re looking directly from the North, then that lush gully right in front of us is the amphitheatre where the girls’ house is now situated (obviously not here yet – in fact no houses or other construction are shown outside of the wall). Don’t analyse this too much, the resolution is too poor. I burned out my eyes looking for such prominent civil (as opposed to religious) constructions as the Etruscan Arch.

House of Horrors
In 1626 Jodocus Jr. published a collection of engraved maps of Italian cities, including this one of Perugia “Perusia Gratum Musis in Tuscia Domicilium”. By this time it seems map makers finally understood the importance of presenting depth. The girls’ house is not yet depicted. Presumibly there is still nothing there yet, because we do start to see other buildings outside of the city walls. Also note the complete city walls, as in the older map, which definitely exist on the northern edge of town (and around the rest of the city), in particular at the top of the girls’ ravine (what is now the upper edge of the carpark).

House of Horrors
In 1626 Jodocus Jr. published a collection of engraved maps of Italian cities, including this one of Perugia “Perusia Gratum Musis in Tuscia Domicilium”. By this time it seems map makers finally understood the importance of presenting depth. The girls’ house is not yet depicted. Presumibly there is still nothing there yet, because we do start to see other buildings outside of the city walls. Also note the complete city walls, as in the older map, which definitely exist on the northern edge of town (and around the rest of the city), in particular at the top of the girls’ ravine (what is now the upper edge of the carpark).
Piazza Grimana

Corso Garibaldi (RS’s street) Via Ulisse Rocchi with Etruscan Arch at bottom

Site of future Porta Bulagaio (not constructed until 1765) Approx. Location of girls’ house Porta Sant’Antonio (c. 1270) Via Pinturicchio

Cathedral and fountain Via Alessi (Le Chic pub) San Domenico
(I point it out to help orient us with the next map)

San Pietro
(I point it out to help orient us with the next map)

House of Horrors
This map is from around 1700. As a map, there is much more graphic detail and in addition there is a legend for the principal buildings. Thanks to the detail, we see that this map is definitely viewed from the East (sorry, that doesn’t help us much with our endeavour). Note the orchards, and in particular, the apparition of more farm houses, and other constructions outside of the city walls.

House of Horrors
This map is from around 1700. As a map, there is much more graphic detail and in addition there is a legend for the principal buildings. Thanks to the detail, we see that this map is definitely viewed from the East (sorry, that doesn’t help us much with our endeavour). Note the orchards, and in particular, the apparition of more farm houses, and other constructions outside of the city walls.

San Pietro
(contrast with position in prior map)

San Domenico
(contrast with position in prior map)

House of Horrors We jump from paintings to the era of photography. This photo is c. 1890, from the top of the
Via delle Prome stone staircase. The Palazzo Gallenga (Foreigners University) is on the left and the Sant’Agostino church forms part of the city walls on the right. Shame that the photographer didn’t pan a little more to the right, towards the girls’ house, which by this time almost certainly existed … or at least some part of it.

House of Horrors We jump from paintings to the era of photography. This photo is c. 1890, from the top of the
Via delle Prome stone staircase. The Palazzo Gallenga (Foreigners University) is on the left and the Sant’Agostino church forms part of the city walls on the right. Shame that the photographer didn’t pan a little more to the right, towards the girls’ house, which by this time almost certainly existed … or at least some part of it. We do see something very interesting and important: the road ramping up from the Porta Bulagaio, built on top of the city wall. The wall itself is free of earth on the outside: there are several meters of drop there. (Keep this mind, later we’ll refer to it).

Porta Bulagaio

Let’s try again, from House of Horrors a different angle outside of the city walls, in this photo c. 1920-1930.

Looks like the photographer is perched in some sort of orchard, and … alas … once again we seem to just miss the girls’ cottage by a 150 meters or so off to the right.

Let’s try again, from House of Horrors a different angle outside of the city walls, in this photo c. 1920-1930.

Looks like the photographer is perched in some sort of orchard, and … alas … once again we seem to just miss the girls’ cottage by a 150 meters or so off to the right. The tower on the left is the Santa Maria Nuova church on Via Pinturicchio (the victim turned the corner there after leaving her friend Sophie in Via Roscetto). On the far right, the stone staircase of Via delle Prome.

Via delle Prome

ll joi Guesstimate on where vertical wa

ns rising orchard terrain

Let’s try again, from House of Horrors a different angle outside of the city walls, in this photo c. 1920-1930.

Looks like the photographer is perched in some sort of orchard, and … alas … once again we seem to just miss the girls’ cottage by a 150 meters or so off to the right. The tower on the left is the Santa Maria Nuova church on Via Pinturicchio (the victim turned the corner there after leaving her friend Sophie in Via Roscetto). On the far right, the stone staircase of Via delle Prome.

San

Tom m Refe aso con renc e povent int A (for
next imag es)

Sa

n

ll joi Guesstimate on where vertical wa

To Remm fe as re o (fo nc co r n e nv ex po en ti i m nt t ag B

Via delle Prome

ns rising orchard terrain

es )

House of Horrors
We continue to modern times, looking for a vantage point not based on a helicopter, airplane or satellite, from where to view the girls’ house. And once again, we’re disappointed. We know we’re standing virtually above the house, and yet all we can really see in the photo to the left is the Sant’Agostino church, and lower down, the Porta Bulagaio almost totally blocked out by green vegetation. In the photo to the right (the tall tower of Santa Maria Nuova can’t be seen – it’s off screen further to right) we can see the reference points of the San Tommaso convent referred to in the prior slide. This tourist took these two panning shots, which we could stitch together with photo software, and yet the girls’ place is no where to be seen. (While we’re here, let’s point out Porta Sant’Antonio, far right)

House of Horrors
We continue to modern times, looking for a vantage point not based on a helicopter, airplane or satellite, from where to view the girls’ house. And once again, we’re disappointed. We know we’re standing virtually above the house, and yet all we can really see in the photo to the left is the Sant’Agostino church, and lower down, the Porta Bulagaio almost totally blocked out by green vegetation. In the photo to the right (the tall tower of Santa Maria Nuova can’t be seen – it’s off screen further to right) we can see the reference points of the San Tommaso convent referred to in the prior slide. This tourist took these two panning shots, which we could stitch together with photo software, and yet the girls’ place is no where to be seen. (While we’re here, let’s point out Porta Sant’Antonio, far right)

ta or P

io ga la Bu

San Tommaso convent - Reference point B

Po rta

Sant’Agostino

Sa nt Sa ’A nt n To on Re io fe mm re a nc s o epc oi onv nt e A nt -

House of Horrors
We continue to modern times, looking for a vantage point not based on a helicopter, airplane or satellite, from where to view the girls’ house. And once again, we’re disappointed. We know we’re standing virtually above the house, and yet all we can really see in the photo to the left is the Sant’Agostino church, and lower down, the Porta Bulagaio almost totally blocked out by green vegetation. In the photo to the right (the tall tower of Santa Maria Nuova can’t be seen – it’s off screen further to right) we can see the reference points of the San Tommaso convent referred to in the prior slide. This tourist took these two panning shots, which we could stitch together with photo software, and yet the girls’ place is no where to be seen. (While we’re here, let’s point out Porta Sant’Antonio, far right)

ta or P

io ga la Bu

San Tommaso convent - Reference point B

CONCLUSION: if we don’t have an aerial platform, we would have to be in the “frontline” of houses (and not necessarily even then, as we’ll see) or in a window around the Sant’Agosto church (on left) or in San Tommaso (on right) to see the girls’ house from an urban vantage point.

Po rta

Sant’Agostino

Sa nt Sa ’A nt n To on Re io fe mm re a nc s o epc oi onv nt e A nt -

House of Horrors
Let’s terminate the visual search for a view of the girls’ house with this true 180 degree photo from our high perch on Via Prome (stone staircase). This was one of the first photos I dug up, and I was disappointed that the photographer didn’t pan down just a little more. Later I realized that his cut-off point was determined by the roof tops of the “frontline” row of houses. We would never be able to get the city-based house view we were looking for.

P

a ort

Sa

n

nto t’A

nio

r Po

ta

Bu

l

a ag

io

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So, let’s jump in an airplane and rise above the buildings …

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A fast reminder of reference points …
San Tommaso convent - Reference point A

San Tommaso convent - Reference point B

Base of belltower, Santa Maria Nuova

Old city walls

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this is the girls’ house ... At last! We see it!

Via delle Prome

Via Pin turicch io

House of Horrors

A fast reminder of reference points …
San Tommaso convent - Reference point A

San Tommaso convent - Reference point B

Base of belltower, Santa Maria Nuova

Old city walls

I don’t know about you, but to me it looks like they paved Paradise and they put up a parking lot. I’m convinced that in the past, what is now the Via Sant’Antonio (the asphalted road below the Old City Walls) was at most just a dusty track, which if followed all the way east (upwards on this photo) for a kilometer or so, would give the cottage dwellers (and the dwellers of a couple other cottages on the way) access to the city through the old city gate Porta Sant’Antonio. The track would have stopped at the girls’ cottage, because of the steepness of the gully, and because I believe there was not yet any ramp up to surmount the city wall, and join into the Piazza Grimana (basketball court). Via delle Prome Offscreen to the lower left, the Porta Bulagaio is much closer, but 1) it didn’t exist until 1765 (if there was some construction on the site of the cottage by then), and 2) the terrain is extremely steep, especially because of the vertical city walls coming up from that Porta (as seen in the c. 1890 photo)

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this is the girls’ house ... At last! We see it!

Via Pin turicch io

House of Horrors

What if someone took away that carpark and the asphalt … would we return to Paradise? (just in case there are youngsters out there, or some cultural barriers, the “Paradise” reference is to the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi, nice lyrics, check them out)

House of Horrors

What if someone took away that carpark and the asphalt … would we return to Paradise? (just in case there are youngsters out there, or some cultural barriers, the “Paradise” reference is to the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi, nice lyrics, check them out)

Paradise has always been depicted as an orchard, and it may well be that before the house was “buried”, that the sun shone, fruit was harvested, and there was good visual communication amongst all the inhabitants of the Northern Cwm.

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The entrance to the lowest level of the carpark is a down ramp

Via Sant’Antonio starts here, ON TOP OF the city wall (the girls’ cottage at times has a Via Sant’Antonio address instead of Via Pergola). Had it not been a sort of ring road (to take pressure off internal city streets), it could have followed the wall upwards, following the same path as what is now the entrance ramp for the top level of the car park (photo above).

Cars exit on this side of the carpark. Lowest level three is not underground, but rather exits flat onto Via Sant’Antonio, which is OUTSIDE and BELOW the city wall This is roadmaking at its easiest: just dump the asphalt on the farming terraces (okay, I’m simplifying a little, but that’s pretty much it)

Girls’ parking area is a landfill platform

Via Sant’Antonio is actually a viaduct / bridge here, as witnessed by the image of reinforced concrete support columns and beams. I hope no human or animal vermin hang out in the manmade cave created

Landfill here against the city wall

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This image fills me with many, many contrasting and some contradictory feelings. I won’t bore you with further references of places. If you don’t have it, get the prior Powerpoint through Steve Huff’s TrueCrimeWeblog discussion on
http://www.haloscan.com/comments/truecrimeweblog/8299773531507317890/

concerning the suspects’ movements on Nov.1, to recall Via Roscetto, Via Ulisse Rocchi, the Etruscan Arch, the Foreigners’ University, Piazza Grimana, Corso Garibaldi, Via Pinturicchio, Via Melo, the metal stairs, the cottage ... all seen here. It’s Paradise, complete with terraced fruit crops (in the past), and yet something went wrong.

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Real quick, modern image of Porta Bulagaio … it’s not the issue for this presentation, but I don’t think any suspects went running down this road after the crime, into the darkness of the unilluminated, nonpedestrian countryroad … with the stolen mobile phones in their hands (instead, they ran through the streets of Perugia)

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Note the lush vegetation which reaches up to the outer edge of the city walls in the Porta Bulagiao area. We see the same growth in the prior high aerial image. This contrasts with the several meters of drop from the outer edge of the wall which we see in the c. 1890 photo.

Old city walls

I’m thi re s v fer eg ring et ati to on

House of Horrors

Porta Bulagaio

If you look closely, it appears that there has been some landfill here, which may not be surprising as Perugia is in an active seismic area, and there is extensive tracking of even minor landslides. Perhaps by dumping dirt here and letting the plants grow wildly, it helps stabilise the terrain, and in particular, supports the old city wall here.

Porta Bulagaio

House of Horrors

Porta Bulagaio

If you look closely, it appears that there has been some landfill here, which may not be surprising as Perugia is in an active seismic area, and there is extensive tracking of even minor landslides. Perhaps by dumping dirt here and letting the plants grow wildly, it helps stabilise the terrain, and in particular, supports the old city wall here.

Porta Bulagaio

House of Horrors

Is all this that important as regards the house and its history? Why yes, as we’ll see that the wall below the houses, behind the carpark, was about as high as in the black and white photo on the left. And that of the carpark’s three levels, the lowest one is not “underground” but simply built sitting on top of the orchard terrain. In other words, the carpark (three levels) is as high as the city wall in that area.

Porta Bulagaio

If you look closely, it appears that there has been some landfill here, which may not be surprising as Perugia is in an active seismic area, and there is extensive tracking of even minor landslides. Perhaps by dumping dirt here and letting the plants grow wildly, it helps stabilise the terrain, and in particular, supports the old city wall here.

Porta Bulagaio

House of Horrors

Now it’s the turn of Porta Sant’Antonio

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Now it’s the turn of Porta Sant’Antonio ... let’s ZOOM in

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Now it’s the turn of Porta Sant’Antonio ... let’s ZOOM in

Porta Sant’Antonio

Access to the town from the cottage area in the past would have been along a track that would have followed the base of the wall, where the terrain is somewhat flatter, all the way to the Porta Sant’Antonio.

House of Horrors

And you know something ... that seems to be the way it was. This image is from c. 1920-1930 ... so recent!! There’s no Via Sant’Antonio outside of the city wall, no asphalt, just a track from Porta Sant’Antonio along the base of the wall and at the top of the terracing ... to the garden of Paradise

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By the time we get to the 1950’s, there are additional modern apartment buildings in the Sant’Antonio neighbourhood. And there’s still no asphalt or Via Sant’Antonio (the earthen track is barely visible – if at all – in the shadow of the wall).

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Parting shots (modern shots) of the Porta Sant’Antonio.

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Parting shots (modern shots) of the Porta Sant’Antonio.

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The House

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Back at the beginning of this case, we saw time after time the same images and video from journalists perched on the edge of the Via Sant’Antonio or on the carpark above the house, watching the movements of the ILE (and the Happy Couple) as they initiated the investigation. It was quickly apparent that the house had been constructed in parts: The “central core” with Filomena’s room and window (on left) and Laura’s room and window (on right) seem to have a different texture (of stone work), whitewash weathering and roof construction, compared to the perpendicular extension behind the house, where the foreign girls’ rooms and the balcony are located. Additionally, the “lean-to” roof above the uniformed police officers in the left photo and the “niche” of the main bathroom window on the right, lead one to believe that that section of the house (entrance way and main bathroom section) is a later extension on to the central core as well.

House of Horrors
After stitching together sections of the house floorplan (from Enrico Mentana’s Matrix program), we got a good idea of the house. (I used this for the first version of the floorplan. The general dimensions and layout of that plan were correct, but not necessarily the assumptions I made concerning furniture and bathroom fixtures.) First of all, there’s immediate confirmation of the “central core” concept. The foreign girls’ extension was quite obvious from outside photos (different style roof, different exterior wall texture, different roof tiles ...). But now, this floor plan also confirms the addition of what I call the washing room and the main bathroom (lower horizontal segment on this floorplan) as another posterior addition to the central core. Also, tantalisingly, the central core walls are thicker than the other walls of the house.

House of Horrors Closer images of the two ends of the central core highlight the different textures compared to the other (newer) parts of the house. Here on the right hand (east, Laura’s room) external housewall, the wall structure appears to be of stone work: many different stones of various sizes and shapes.

House of Horrors
Hmmm ... When we go to the other (west) side of the house, we also see stonework in the central core, at least in the only partially visible, lower (“orchard”) ground level floor (the boys’ flat). (We actually know almost nothing about their level, from an architectural point of view. Hangups of mine: there has to be a fireplace down there, or location of an old one.) There’s definitely stonework around the boys’ central core window (the different stone shapes are visible). But the upper level of the central core on this side (Filomena’s room) seems to be made either with very regular sized stones or a sort of large, flat construction brick. Maybe the lower boys floor was built first of all (as a shepards’ hut or small orchard storage shed?) of stone, then Laura’s room was built on top, also of stone, then the upper living room and Filomena’s room were added, using building material with a regular form.

House of Horrors In a minute we’ll come back to the possibility of different stonework in the upper west end of the central core. Let’s first try to imagine what this end of the house looked like with just the “central core” ... ... as for the ground floor having stone walls, and half of the girls’ floor with stone walls and the other half with some sort of bricks, that seems to be reflected in the Matrix floorplan a couple of screens back, where Laura’s walls are extra thick, Filomena’s are less so, and the rest of the house walls are the least thick of all. So ... do houses like this really exist? They would be very narrow (just the width of a bed, plus an equivalent empty space, plus the width of a desk).

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If we had a two-floor central core, our man in the street would have to drop from Via Sant’Antonio asphalt level (equivalent to the edge of the roof clay tiles) down a few meters to get to “orchard” level.

House of Horrors

If we had a two-floor central core, our man in the street would have to drop from Via Sant’Antonio asphalt level (equivalent to the edge of the roof clay tiles) down a few meters to get to “orchard” level.

House of Horrors

I can’t really imagine that the house at any point in time had a complete lower floor constructed of stonework and only one small room – Laura’s on the right – on the upper floor (also of stone). At the most, I could imagine one complete lower floor first, as some kind of orchard or shepard’s hut, and then one complete floor of stone added to the house on top of that at some point in time.

The external observation of an apparent change in building material on the upper west end of the house is supported by the Matrix floorplan a couple of screens back, where Laura’s walls are extra thick, Filomenas are less so, and the rest of the house walls are the least thick of all.

What could explain a carved stone-brick construction on the west end of the upper house? Try this possibility: the whole central core (2 complete floors) was constructed of stone, and then the left uppe end fell apart / collapsed due to an earthquake. (Many many buildings in Perugia have suffered that exact process). With the passage of time, when it was reconstructed, building techniques had passed from using unsculpted (“raw”) stone, to sculpted stonebricks (or semi-irregular clay bricks).

House of Horrors
Do taylored or scuplted stone “bricks” exist? I don’t know if that’s what they’re called in the construction sector, but we can google up all types of buildings that use them.

Do earthquakes hit the Perugia area? You bet, and on a regular basis. We all remember the collapse recorded on a tourist’s video of the roof ot the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (you can see Assisi from Perugia, looking south-east) during the earthquake of Sept. 27, 1997)

House of Horrors
So ... do other houses like the cottage really exist? They would be very narrow (just the width of a bed, plus an equivalent empty space, plus the width of a desk). Let’s check out Umbrian real estate sites. These houses are kind of like the girls’ place in design and construction, although it’s clear the Northern Cwm cottage is tiny ... the Newsweek writer who called it a “palazzo” got it all wrong.
Here’s another stone house for sale in Umbria. Note that the closest wing looks surprisingly like the central core of the girls’ house. However, it’s a little bit wider than Filomena’s bedroom (the width of the girls’ cottage’s central core).

From the real estate site: “This old house is an elegant old building 200 years old and constructed with basalt stones, surrounded by the rolling hills and typical characteristics of the Tuscan Umbrian countryside. Wise local craftsmen have worked using materials of the place of first choice ... clay floors, roof tiles, old beams and ceilings ... bathrooms are simple and refined and maintain the old marble sinks dating to 1800 .... The land around the property is specially evocative, given some of the caves and quarries in the area, some dating from the Etruscan period, and wonderful walks. A perfect place to spend a delightful holiday, absorbed in reading a book or relaxing meditation.”

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Here’s an American university program for the restoration of old Italian stone houses (text highlighting is mine)

http://www.architectureweek.com/2002/0130/building_1-1.html “For the past two years, students from the United States have gathered in a small village in northern Italy to participate in an unusual experience — the preservation of a built environment that has changed little since medieval times …. Faculty and students at the University of Oregon have established a historic preservation Italy Field School Program in the Ossola Valley village of Canova …. In reference to the work he does on these houses, (Ken) Marquardt prefers the term "continuation" to "preservation." He notes: "These buildings have been changing and adapting for centuries, and the work being done here continues that process in a sensitive way. The buildings are organic in the broadest sense — growing naturally over time and responding to the environment and the needs of their inhabitants. The notion of freezing them in time is contrary to their nature as dwellings to be lived in and used." …. Beneath a shallow layer of topsoil is granite bedrock; often houses grow directly out of hillside outcroppings. There are numerous variations, but the typical sectional organization places a cantina at the base, usually partially underground, with a vaulted or cross-vaulted ceiling. This creates an intriguing environment — dimly lit and always cool — where the wine is pressed and stored. “

(Image on left from Architectureweek.com article ref. typical Italian stonehouse construction) For as tiny as the girls’ house is, it is perched on a steep ravine, and needs some sort of foundation. A cellar too?

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This upper part of the Cwm is a sort of amphitheatre, with the sun always behind the houses, as a sort of theatrical spotlight shining upon the cottage. In the past, in the time of Paradise - with no parking lot nor Via Sant’Antonio-, the neighbours would always know what was going on there With the frontline houses enhancing the amphitheatre effect, it would be of interest to know in the past if sounds were somehow amplified or modified. Nowadays, however, the carpark blocks the view (remember the image with the ILE agent between the house and the concrete girders of the viaduct / bridge?) and noise. Given the stone structure of the house, and its condition of being “buried” in asphalt and concrete, on the night of the Giallo, I doubt the screams that the neighbours heard were the victim’s (sorry for the Indonesian rice paddies in my transformation of the Northern Cwm to how it may have been in the past)

House of Horrors Both in the old days (photo on left, c. 1920-1930) or in modern times (in the right photo, the Giardini del Campaccio – outside of the city walls to the west of Corso Vannucci), the terraces and orchards that slope up to the walls have provided a bucolic environment and lifestyle.

House of Horrors Perhaps there’s no rational or mathematical explanation to the undeniable factor in the Giallo that came from the cottage’s location in the Northern Cwm and the house’s structure. But the cottage didn’t rape, humiliate, murder, and then desecrate the victim’s corpse and try to cover up the crime. Just as humans try to predict the weather, and then suffer unexpected mists, the only consolation for the general population is that the mists will recede someday and the sun will shine again. How sad, though, for the victim and her family.

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