It is getting cold and at the moment and we don’t want to use the central heating, because our gas does not come from the mains, it is delivered by a tanker and it costs a fortune. The first year we lived in Italy we received a 998.00 euro gas bill for two winter months. We are now pretty frugal and stay warm with jumpers and shivering. So last night on the way home from work I purchased an electric heater for the bathroom (don’t mention electricity and bathrooms as that is the least of my problems) Purchasing this one item started a argument discussion with Mrs Sensible on ‘why does Italy have to be so complicated’. I tried to use the difference between Italian and English plugs as an example to no avail.
In the UK we have 2 plugs. The standard fused plug.
For any Italians reading this we have a fuse in the plug for safety and we don’t use sellotape to join the wires together.
The two pin shaver plug.
UK Two pin shaver plug
We also have a simple adapter should you want to use the shaver in a standard plug socket.
All very nice and easy. It is because we have an organisation in the UK called the British Standards Institution (BSI) based in Chiswick London who try to keep things orderly and simple. Don’t misunderstand me the Italians also have an organisation it is probably based in Napoli and will go by the initials UGC or the longer form Uno Grande Casino (a big mess). In the office of UGC Giuseppe will scratch his ear with his chewed pencil and try to work out how to make life more complicated for the average Italian. If he isn’t devising a new law that requires new electrical heaters to be fitted with non standard plugs he will be drafting new laws that contradict existing laws.
Back to the plugs.
In Italy they have standardised on lots of plugs. They have the two pin plug that is very similar to the UK shaver plug. Don’t try to use it in an English shaver socket as it won’t fit unless you modify it with a pair of pliers by bending the pins.
Small two pin plug
The small three pin plug that is found on laptops, hoovers and small heaters
Small three pin plug
And the large three pin plug that is also found on computers, hoovers and small heaters
Large three pin plug
The strange and very stupid appliance plug that is found on washing machines, dish washers and cookers.
Our house should be fitted with these elongated plug sockets
so that at least two of the plugs will fit. Unfortunately the house was refurbished by an Italian and we have some rooms with large sockets and some with small sockets and nowhere is there a socket to accommodate the appliance plug. What we do have is an assortment of adaptors that enable us to fit a large plug into a small socket or a small plug into a large socket.
We also have adapters so that we can fit the appliance plug into small or large sockets. But they are always hard to find. I can buy 3 of each and two weeks later they have vanished.
To make life even more interesting we have a toaster, kettle, hoover and various lights that still have UK plugs fitted. Four years ago I did consider removing the UK plugs and change them for Italian plugs. I was dissuaded as soon as I realised that Italian plugs do not contain fuses and I couldn’t choose between large or small Italian plugs.
To plug my reading lamp that has a UK plug on it, into my bedroom socket I need to use a European UK/Italian adapter.
I also need to use a large to small Italian adapter and a three-way adapter so that I can use my laptop at the same time.
One evening after pondering the plug problem over a glass of grappa I devised the perfect solution, I would standardise all our sockets and plugs, we would use one size only. In fact we would swap to the English Standard. I would order from Amazon 30 UK sockets and a bag full of UK plugs. Mrs Sensible said no.
I tried to negotiate, I pleaded, I cried, and I gnashed my teeth but still she said no. So I am stuck with the Italian system, I think my wife was worried that I was trying to create a little bit of England in Italy, something I could show to my Italian friends when they came around to our house for shepherd’s pie and brown ale.
And the little heater I bought, which plug did it have? Of course an appliance plug.