Citizenship quest (part 2)

I have finally pressed the button and applied for my Italian Citizenship. Now all I have to do, is sit back with a glass of wine and wait to see if they reject my application.

Pecora Nera cats

Three wise cats, Micha, Headache and Liquorice.

My quest started in November 2016 when I applied for my criminal record check, I was a little worried how many misdemeanours and skeletons they might discover.

Maybe just one or two skeletons.

However they obviously didn’t dig too deep, for example they never uncovered the incident of the little girl who somehow lost a chunk of her ponytail during class, maybe they couldn’t prove the fingerprints on the craft scissors were mine.

Ok, so it wasn’t quite as bad as this, well maybe

With this minor hurdle over I procrastinated for just over five months, it was only when I realised the criminal record  certificate was due to expire, that I decided I needed to gather my documents and officially apply.

Applying on line means uploading copies of my birth certificate, residency document, criminal record and something called Richiesta di Iscrizione anagrafica. I will be honest, I didn’t know I had one of these and I still don’t know what it is or when I got it.

I also had to answer 30 pages of multiple choice questions, ok some of the pages only had 5 questions, but they were all written in Italian…

Multiple choice questions

To say I was a little stressed when I was finished is an understatement. I rechecked my answers and then pressed the button.

The Italian ministry now has 730 days to either decline or accept my application. If they don’t reply in time, I am granted citizenship by default.

Over a glass of wine, I suddenly had a cunning idea, if all the brits suddenly flooded the Italian ministry with citizenship applications….. they will be overloaded and won’t be able to cope!

Flood the Italian ministry with applications

and if they can’t cope, maybe my application will be overlooked and I will gain citizenship after 730 days by default.
So please help this black sheep by applying now

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A stressed Englishman

A stressed Englishman

At the moment I am fighting the Italian bureaucracy, earlier this year a pen pusher unceremoniously deleted me from the Italian health system, I can no longer book an appointment at the hospital and I am probably violating some law by visiting the local doctor. I am a firm believer in fighting on two fronts, as in if you are biting their ears it is also wise to kick their shins, so here we go, not only am I trying to get reinstated, I have also starting the process for Italian citizenship.

I can see a stressed time ahead

I can see a stressed time ahead

All advice is welcome, please provide useful or inappropriate comments below. I asked Mrs Sensible for her thoughts on obtaining Italian citizenship, she said I was crazy.

Not everyone thinks I am crazy. Mishmash my cat thinks I am fabulous, well except when I throw her out into the rain or chase her around the house with a water pistol shouting at her for climbing onto the kitchen side or sneaking into one of the bedrooms for a crafty sleep.

Training Mishmash with the water aversion therapy became when she was a kitten

Training Mishmash with the water aversion therapy started when she was a kitten

The teachers from the little school in Mombello don’t think I am too crazy, Once again they have asked me if I can spare a couple of hours a week to help their chilblains with their English Studies.

Before setting of for my lesson, I once again visited the lunatics at the local ASL office (health office) with my latest documents and they then sent me to the local comune (council) to obtain a document granting me the permission to stay in Italy permanently. The man in the comune gave me a temporary permanent right to stay!!!!! I quizzed him whether it was possible to have a temporary – permanent right to stay, but he just shrugged his shoulders and I lost the gist of the conversation after his fourth word.

The little school in Monbello

The little school in Mombello

I got in my little car, which smells of cat pee thanks to the attentions the hairy gigalo of a tom cat is paying it, and set off to the little school in Mombello, for my first English lesson with the chilblains. I was a little stressed when I arrived in Mombello, what with the staff at the ASL office trying to convince me that the United Kingdom is not part of the European Economic Area (I think they believe this because we don’t use Monopoly money (Euro) and have proper money (Sterling) and also because I was trying to decide if my neighbor would notice if I kidnapped his cat and paid the local vet to deball it.

I had a good life, the local cats loved me. One day I was kidnapped, I remember the car I had peed on it often and then with a cruel snip

I once had a good life, the local cats loved me. One night I was kidnapped, I remember the car I had peed on it often and I will never forget the vet and his scissors.

I managed in my little stressed state to drive past the school and park twenty-foot further down the road. As I closed the car door a pungent whiff of cat pee assaulted my nose and as I went to open the car boot to retrieve my bag, a huge smell of cat pee hung in the air.. my little Mini had taken at least two hits on the drivers door and three on the rear bumper. That cat will disappear one night and reappear a couple of days later minus a bit of furry baggage.

It look like the right place to me

It looked like the right place to me…. I blame the mistake on stress

Outside the little yellow house that looked remarkably like the school I pressed the doorbell and was rewarded with a…

Chi e? (Who is it?)

Sono Io (It is I)

Normally this is all it takes to gain admittance to the school.

Allora? (So)

Huh! (maybe said a little petulantly) Allora!! Sono Io, per bambini! (SO!!! Its me for the children)

As I turned around in frustration, I realised the school was twenty-foot further up the road and I had disturbed some old Italian woman who had been preparing  spaghetti bolognase for her husband and children.

Another Italian language flash card for your collection

Another Italian language flash card for your collection

The lesson with the kids was great fun, I am impressed with their knowledge of the English Language, it is far superior to my knowledge of the Italian Language, and I have been living here way before some of these children were born. Which is a scary thought and not one I should pass onto Mrs Sensible.

If there is anybody out there who has successfully applied and obtained Italian citizenship…. I am all ears.

 

 

How to light a boiler

I have an irrational rational fear of thinks that go bang or could potentially explode. This fear is not limited to Mrs Sensible exploding when she realises I have failed to pay the electric bill on time and ENEL have automatically reduced our available power down to zip, or maybe just enough electricity to power two 60 watt light bulbs. By the way how can they do that? This is Italy it is way too technical for ENEL and besides nothing functions that fast.

oops!

Occasionally I forget to pay the bill before they reduce our power, fortunately Mrs Sensible is only aware of one of these mistakes. 

 

This rational fear of things that may spontaneously explode, dates back to a very traumatic life event during my young formative years. My mother had one of those long tube vacuum cleaners, the ones that mothers drag around behind them. From what I have been told, I decided to sit astride the hoover and pretend I was riding a horse. Everything was fun, until somebody who had a really strange sense of humour decided to find out what would happen if they pressed the big red button and switched it on whilst I was playing my little game.

 

Taught a lesson

A typical Sunday afternoon when I was a child.

From an early age it would appear that I had learnt how to multi-task, I managed to fill a clean nappy, get off the hoover and run screaming from the room quicker that you can shout BOO! I don’t want to thank the person who pressed the red button, but the traumatic experience has in the past, saved me from many injuries. To explain how quickly I can move when startled, let me give you this example: A lunatic of a neighbor who disliked my elder brother, once decided to bang on the roof of my brothers van with a rather large stick. Before my brother had got out of the van to hit him, I had already left the van and sprinted 40 metres up the road and was in a defensive crouch waiting for the (what I thought was exploding van) bits of van to fly overhead. I was 15 at the time.

Back to this morning, Mrs Sensible suggested that we start using the central heating for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening. Using the heating for only 4 hours a day might seem frugal or penny-pinching to you, but in reality  it will save us hundreds of Euros. The first winter we lived in Italy we heated the house the same way we did in the UK and our ENEL  November / December gas bill was for over nine hundred euros! and that was a little efficient combi-boiler not the monstrous beast we have in this house.

Look at the size of it

To give you an idea of its size, look at the stack of garden chairs next to it.

We think this boiler was either army surplus of was previously used to heat the Casale Monferrato hospital and the ambulance station next door to it. When the boiler starts, it sounds like a jet engine ready for take off, I cry as I can hear hundreds of euros of gas being sucked into it. Now this boiler has sat dormant for the past eight months and this morning I attempted to light it.

The new and improved system

The new and improved system

Last year the electrical control panel for the boiler was upgraded, previously it had lots of bakelite switches and levers that looked like Frankenstein’s life support system. This morning I flipped the main electrical switch and turned on the pump controls, set the clock to on and waited. It normally takes 15 seconds to ignite and start burning my Euros; nothing it didn’t even fart. I then remembered I needed to go outside and turn on the big gas valve.

I repeated the process and after 15 seconds it hummed, whooshed and burst into action, Whoo hoo! I was just sending Mrs S a whatsapp message when it shut down. So I rang Francois our boiler expert and left him a garbled message. Something like “I Englishman, please boiler kaput fix today?” As I hung up and wondered if I could have phrased my request any better, I decided to try a little DIY.

Modern radiator in my bathroom

Modern radiator in my bathroom, notice the condensation on the OUTSIDE of the window…. So cold

I swiveled the weird divertor valve, unscrewed pumps 2 & 3 then remembered to turn off the gas and electric. Both pumps had seized, so I gave them a technical tap with my hammer, swore at them, reassembled and turned on the gas and electric. The pumps started turning, so I lite the boiler and retreated to a safe place. It whooshed farted and stopped.

So I phoned François again and left him another totally bizarre message. He probably plays my messages to his friends while they are getting drunk on grappa.

Press here if you dare

Press here if you dare

I then remembered the special reset button at the front of the boiler, so I pressed it for 10 seconds and quickly retreated outside my persevered blast radius. It hummed, farted once again and burst into life. I carefully replaced the cover, I have to be honest I don’t like or trust this ancient machine and my natural flight response was screaming in my head. RUN! It still might go BANG.

 

bubbled

 

Happy December to you all.

 

 

 

 

 

The mysterious case of the stolen packet of biscuits…

Last weekend Mrs Sensible dragged me kicking and screaming to the local supermarket. I hate shopping and pushing a trolley around the aisles saying useful things like, uh huh and not sure and even, wow look two toilet rolls  for the price of one! A couple of months ago I used to be able to have a bit of fun hiding a bottle of limoncello or a bar of chocolate under the shopping for it to appear when Mrs S loaded our shopping onto the check out conveyor. Mrs Sensible doesn’t normally like making a fuss in front of people, occasionally she would give me her teacher stare but normally my acquisitions are, blipped, paid for and put in the plastic bags.

Englishmaninitaly.org

Even Batman goes shopping

To make my visits to the supermarket even more unbearable, Ipercoop have introduced a new system, probably marketed as Blip as you go. Special people (like Mrs Sensible) are allowed to go around the store and blip their purchases as they shop, they are even allowed to put them into shopping bags and when they are ready to leave the store, they put the blipper in a special machine and finally pay for their purchases.

Mrs Sensible's new toy

The Blipper, Mrs Sensible’s new toy

For many reasons I do not like this system. First I can no longer hide bottles of limoncello as they need to be blipped by Mrs S before they enter the trolley that I am responsible for pushing. Second I am not happy with depriving a check out girl from her job and finally Ipercoop and Mrs Sensible wont let me play with one of the blippers.

Back to last week, Mrs S dragged me off to Ipercoop and we filled the trolley with useless things like bleach, pasta and bicarbonate of soda (We seem to use a lot of this stuff) . Mrs S was of course in charge of the blipper and my sole responsibility was to push the trolley and mutter, uh huh and are we nearly done now? But to my surprise we turned up the biscuit aisle. I say to my surprise because Mrs S and I seem to be on a 24/7, 346 days a year diet (excluding wine and grappa). I held my breath as Mrs S blipped two packets of biscuits and handed them to me, as I dropped them in the trolley; she then handed me a third packet and I duly dropped it in the trolley.

For at least one nanosecond I did wonder if Mrs S had remembered to blip the 3rd packet of biscuits, but as William K Shakespeare famously said “Theirs is not to reason why” and so I put the third packet in the trolley and didn’t mention Mrs Sensible’s possible oversight. When we returned home and staggered into the house with umpteen plastic bags of shopping, Mrs S picked up the till receipt and checked her purchases. Checking till receipts when you return home is a hereditary disorder, I have watched her father do the same receipt checking thing. I normally screw receipts up and stuff them in my back pocket.

Mrs Sensible, realised that we had three packets of biscuits……… but SHE had only blipped and paid for two. We then had the following conversation, you can work out for yourselves who said what.

Did you put another packet of biscuits in the trolley?

Nope!

Are you sure?

Positive, I am only in charge of the trolley.

But we only paid for two packets!

Oops,

Mrs S re-checked her till receipt to see if a third packet was itemised in between the bleach and the bicarbonate of soda, it wasn’t. Obviously I thought this was funny and Mrs S didn’t.

Ok so you have STOLEN A PACKET OF BISCUITS, what are you going to do about it?

I could go  back and tell them.

Uh huh you could, or next time you go shopping you could take them back and put them back on the shelf.

I think they have security cameras.

Tricky… How about we just eat them?

The biscuits that Mrs S stole (Ok she only shop lifted one packet)

The biscuits that Mrs S stole (Ok she only shop lifted one packet)

Over the past week the problem of the STOLEN PACKET OF BISCUITS has weighed heavily on the conscience of Mrs Sensible, I have done my best not to reminder Mrs S too much that she is now not only a sensible school teacher, but she is also a sensible shoplifter. On Friday I crunched my way through a packet of biscuits and casually remarked at how nice, tasty and crunchy they were. So far Mrs S has refused to join me in eating the evidence of her ill gotten gains.

Last night, out of the blue Mrs Sensible said

I know how to solve it.

Solve what?

The biscuits.

Uh Huh.

When we next go shopping I will blip two packets and only buy one packet.

Which gives me at least three days to find a way of foiling her scheme.

This isn’t the first time I have been caught up in illegal activity with Mrs Sensible’s sensible family. I do remember almost getting arrested at Gatwick Airport with Mrs Sensible’s mum and a rather large pen knife. LINK 

As you can see I have eaten the evidence

As you can see I have eaten the evidence

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quiet Easter Sunday in the home of Mrs Sensible and Pecora Nera

RUTHIE: I’m bored; I have spent the entire Easter chasing a walnut around the floor.

Mishmash: you’re bored! It’s your fault that we are grounded and not allowed out. If you had stuck to chasing walnuts and purring like a nice pussy cat we would be outside, but oh no you have to go, pruur pruur pruurring and try to shag the rug.

Ruthie: It’s not my fault, it’s my hormones.  One minute I want to hump the rug and as the fog of love clears, I find Ginger is all over me like a bad rash.

Ginger: You can leave me out of this, I’m stuck in here and I’m not even a girlie and besides you have been playing the hussy, sauntering
around pruur pruur pruurring with your tail in the air for the past three days.

Ruthie: Have you checked all the doors and windows?

Ginger: Yes, I even tried to make a bolt for it when Pecora Nera was carrying some wood in, if I hadn’t been laughing at the way he yelped and nearly fell over, I would be free.

Mishmash: I have an idea.

Ginger: Not another!

Mishmash: Ruthie!!! Leave the rug alone and come over here!!

Ruthie: Pruur pruur pruur.

Ginger: So what’s the big idea?

Mishmash: One of us drops a squidgy one under the table and when they open the window we make a run for it.

Ginger: Im looking at a dead cat!

Ruthie: You will never get away with it. As soon as you start to squat, Mrs Sensible will have you by the scruff and fire you into the smelly tray. And Pecora Nera will probably spray you with his blasted water pistol just for the fun of it.

Mishmash: Hang on! I never said I would do the squidgy thing!!! I thought up the plan, one of you will have to do the squidgy.

Ginger: Count me out, I’ve just been.

Mishmash: Looks like it’s you then Ruthie.

Ruthie: Pruur pruur pruur

Mishmash: Oh for heaven’s sake! Ginger, go and distract Mrs S while I sneak into the kitchen and do the magic.

Ginger: And what about PN? You can’t trust Ruthie to help; she is humping the rug again. Ok on three. One two ….

Mishmash: Wait, I can’t just poop to order. Give me a minute.

Ginger: Now! Go! This is the big chance, Mrs S is on her phone and I can distract Pecora Nera.

Ruthie: Pruur pruur pruur.

A couple of minutes pass.

Ruthie: Phew, there’s a bit of a pong from the kitchen.

Mishmash: Oh you’re back in the land of the living. Had a fall out with the rug have we?

Pecora Nera: Your cat has just wandered into the kitchen.

Mrs Sensible: Ruuuutthhiiee vieniiii.

Mishmash: You are one daft cat.

A couple of minutes pass..
.

Mrs Sensible: Can you smell that?

Pecora Nera: Smell what?

Mrs Sensible: You can’t smell it? I can smell poo!!

Pecora Nera: One of the cats will have farted… Mishmash where are you?

Mrs Sensible: Go and check the kitchen.

Pecora Nera: Oh my Lord!

Mrs Sensible: It’s your cat that did that.

Pecora Nera: No way, it was Ruthie. YOU called her from the kitchen, remember!

Mrs Sensible: Just open the window, while I clean it up.

Mishmash: Ready, steady… go

Ginger: Wait for me; hey, where are you two going?

Mishmash: Shagfest, up the lane with the big hairy tomcat
I have heard he is a bit of an Italian Stallion.

Ruthie: Pruur pruur pruur.

Pecora Nera: It was definitely your cat.

Mra Sensible: it was Mishmash, only your cat drops squidgy ones. By the way, where are they?

How authentic an Italian are you?

How authentic an Italian are you?

I asked Mrs Sensible if I could pass for an Italian, not a chance she said, you don’t dress like an Italian, you don’t think like an Italian and even the Italian words you know, sound funny when you use them. To prove her wrong I have put together the following test.

Driving

I know I could pass for an Italian when it comes to driving and parking. Driving on the wrong side of the road comes completely natural to me. In fact I have even managed to drive around the roundabout the wrong way; I would have got away with the mistake had Mrs S not been in the car at the time and decided to have a screaming fit. She made me do a three-point turn on the roundabout and go the correct way. The roundabout mistake has faded from my memory, Mrs S on the other hand still has the occasional nightmare.

I can also abandon  park a car just as competently as any Italian, I no longer feel any guilt if I park a car on a zebra crossing, pavement or block some poor souls exit.

Pecora’s rating 10

Photo taken yesterday by yours truly

Photo taken yesterday by yours truly. As you can see I was parked on the other side of the pedestrian crossing, and you can see in my mirror a car park that is half empty

Fashion

Only an Italian can turn up to a business meeting wearing, a pair of jeans, sunglasses, and a jacket with a scarf wrapped around his neck and of course a man bag slung across his shoulder. The Germans and the English will wear business suits; however the Italian will always look smarter. I asked Mrs S how the Italians manage to look so smart in jeans. She said “the jeans they are wearing probably cost more than your suit, shirt, tie and shoes put together.” Boh!

I love my flip-flops, from April till October I keep a spare pair in the car, so that I can put them on after Mrs Sensible has checked that I am leaving the house suitable dressed, so I score very badly.

Pecora’s rating -5

This is not me on holiday  Credit: Baroquesicily.com

It’s a man bag so he must be Italian NB: This is not me on holiday Credit: Baroquesicily.com

Helping in the  home

I would like to get a -10 rating for helping in the home, unfortunately Mrs S is very English in this respect and I am expected to help out in the house. Italians however, are trained from an early age that mamma will fetch, clean and carry for them. When I pick up Mrs S from her school, I am always amazed to watch children run down the street while their mamma or nonna struggle behind, carrying heavy school bags and possibly even the bicycle they brought with them in case young Mario wanted to cycle home.

To put this in perspective, on a visit to Sicily I went into the kitchen to help Mrs S wash the dishes. All of a sudden a huge argument erupted in the lounge, I asked Mrs Sensible what all the fuss was about, with a smile on her face she said “I will tell you later, just keep drying the plates” I later found out that my brother in-laws were getting shouted at by their respective Sicilian wives, because they don’t do anything in their houses. Much to the delight of Mrs S

Wiki help file on how to get your husband to help around the house LINK

Pecora’s rating a dismal minus 10

Man-in-marigolds-with-mop

Cards

I have “grande culo*” when it comes to playing scopa, scopone  or even briscola*. I win, not because I am skilful but because I am lucky. Mrs Sensible is good at playing scopa, but to make sure we stay married and that I am allowed to sleep in the bed and not on the sofa, we rarely play against each other.

Marco, who is a cousin and a great scopone player, was having a game with friends.  When Mrs S and I arrived, he asked me if I wanted a game and if I knew how to play. I replied that I knew the rules but he might have to help me. Ok, I will partner with the Englishman and give him some help, he told his friends.

We wiped the floor with them, is was so funny. What Marco’s friends didn’t know was I had been taught by Sicilian experts and had played countless games with Marco.

* Grande culo literally translates to big arse, but it is used to describe somebody who is very lucky.

* If you go over to http://www.siciliangodmother.com you can buy a brilliant book all about Sicilian games of cards Link

Pecora’s rating 10+

scopa

Communicating

Ok, I am ashamed to say I rate poorly here, I have mastered the waving of the hands, I know enough Italian to buy wine and other alcoholic drinks and that is about it. I do know quite a few Italian swear words for when I am driving. Honestly it is not because I am pigro*, it is because the gene that controls language development was never turned on.

* pigro. Italian for lazy, I know this word because I have heard Mrs S use it.

Pecora’s rating -10

The great Marcel Marceau credit: Telegraph news

I communicate with mime The great Marcel Marceau credit: Telegraph news

Drinking

I thought I would score high here, but Italians don’t really drink much. They like their wine and a cool beer but in moderation* I on the other hand, love grappa, white wine, red wine, beer, limoncello, masala. In fact I like any drink that contains alcoholic, although I do draw the line at methylated spirits and rubbing alcohol . I also score low because I will drink a cappuccino after midday, which is a complete no no in Italy

* moderation. I had to google this word.

Pecora’s rating 6

schermata-10-2456940-alle-01.33.43

Grappa from pralapa.com

Queuing

Just before the winter, Mrs Sensible and I were stuck in a queue at the local supermarket. There were about eight shoppers in front of us. Fortunately I spotted a shop assistant getting ready to open the till next to ours, so I grabbed Mrs Sensible by the arm and dragged her over to the now open till. This is normal practice in Italy, you need to be fast on your feet and be able to make strategic use of your shopping trolley to inhibit other shoppers. There is none of this, excuse me I think they are opening a new till and you are before me…. oh no, we just run.

As we reached the till, I heard in perfect English “darling, they were behind us and now they are in front of us!!!” I was amazed, an English couple in our village during the winter!!! and just when I decide to behave like an Italian!! Mrs S was not impressed with me. I spent the next 10 minutes apologising to the English shoppers who were obviously lost and to Mrs S for my behaviour.

Pecora’s rating a cool 10+ (minus 8 for getting caught)

Italian shopping trolley

Italian shopping trolley

I hope this guide to living as a true Italian has been helpful to you, and I hope you score higher than I did.

 

* The brilliant photo of the hunk in the pink budgie smugglers and orange man bag was taken by Jann Huizenga from www.baroquesicily.com please visit the site for some excellent photos of Sicily

 

Thanks to the COSI group for suggesting the post title and if you go to the COSI page you can catch up on their posts or follow the links

So here are the rest of the posts from the alliance of expat in Italy bloggers:

    1. from our fabulous COSÌ group:

      from our new friends at Italy Blogger Roundtable:

They even took the kitchen sink!!!

They even took the kitchen sink!!!

Your dream has finally come true. After many years of dreaming and persuading your partner that moving to Italy is a good idea you finally arrive. With satisfaction you remember handing in your notice to your old boss and laughing when he said “you’ll be back”. Finally you are here, in Belle Italia. Hopefully the Italian subsidiary of your freight company has only misplaced your furniture and hopefully it will turn up in a couple of weeks.

Do you remember your last visit to Italy, the time you were walking around the house that you and your partner decided to rent / buy? Can you remember how the sun shone in through the kitchen window and made the shiny taps and stainless steel sink sparkle? I bet it was a shock when you finally entered the house and realised that not only had they removed all the door handles and light switches but the beautiful kitchen cupboards and sink are also missing. If only they had left a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom you could wipe the tear from your eye.

They even took the kitchen sink

They even took the kitchen sink (Rustyduck.net)

I really am not exaggerating, Italians view their kitchen cupboards and sink the same way they view their leather sofa or their bed. When they move house, they will take it all with them. What you are buying / renting is a house, this means something that has four walls, a roof, windows and a door. But don’t worry they will leave you the bidet although the chances are you will use it for washing your feet and not your bum.

Last week I was talking with Georgette from Girl in Florence and we decided to write about our experiences of renting houses in Italy so please go and read her post, it is full of sensible advice.

Mrs Sensible and I have lived in Italy for seven years and in that time we have moved house three times, we have viewed quite a few houses in our search, so here are a few of our experiences.

House no 1 Rent 220.00 euros a month

A nice little house but

A nice little house but it had a funky smelling bathroom. You can see the entrance and the bedroom at the rear.

Mrs Sensible chose to rent this furnished house, she took this decision without my input, because she was tired of living in a nunnery with a collection of nuns, whilst I enjoyed eating bacon sandwiches and drinking pints of beer in the UK. Honest, the nuns rented her a cell room for 2 months while I was still in the UK

This first house had one bedroom, a kitchen sink and a little problem with rising damp. The bathroom had been built over the septic tank, which meant the bathroom always had a funky smell to it, regardless of the number of times we scrubbed it with bleach. We loved the little house, for Mrs Sensible is was a short walk to her school and I didn’t have far to walk to the bar. There were two reasons why we moved house, the first was the funky smelling bathroom and the second reason, was the embarrassment of asking friends who had flown over from the UK if they minding sleeping in the lounge on a blow-up bed next to the table..

Lots of visitors from the UK camped in our lounge

Lots of visitors from the UK camped in our lounge

One afternoon when we were driving in the countryside I suddenly stopped the car and pointed to a house that had the sign AFFITTO nailed to the wall. I demanded that Mrs S phone the woman and ask her for some information.

Mrs S: Hello, we have just seen your house with the for rent sign, can you tell me a little about it.

Crazy Women: It has a bathroom, kitchen, lounge and a bedroom.

Mrs S: So it doesn’t have a second bedroom?

Crazy Woman: How many will be living in my house?

Mrs S: Just me and my Husband

Crazy Woman: So why do you need a guest room?

Mrs S: In case my parents want to visit or if we have friends from the UK to visit.

Crazy Woman: Oh I don’t think I am happy about guests staying.

CLICK

I dragged Mrs Sensible to look at a beautiful villa in Conzano overlooking the valley, the rent was 550.00 a month which was over the budget we had set ourselves. It was furnished with Sicilian antiques; there were 4 bedrooms, a study, lots of balconies, a large private garden; I was in love. We both walked around the house and discussed if the rent was affordable, I was like a child in a sweet shop, almost skipping with joy. Every time I passed Mrs S I whispered into her ear just tell them yes.

Mrs S started to discuss something with the owners, I knew there was bad news coming, I just felt the atmosphere change.

Me: Just say yes.

Mrs S: The boiler is fired with gasolio.

Me: Just say yes.

Mrs S: The boiler heats air and then blows it around the house through those air ducts.

Me: OK, say yes.

Mrs S: It will cost a fortune to heat this house; this is really a house only to be used as a summer house.

Me: But it is fab, please say yes.

Mrs S: No

Me: Pleeeeaaaasssse.

The boiler was a littlw out of date

The central heating boiler was a little out of date

One afternoon Mrs S took me to look at a house that she had found in Terruggia. Terrugia is a rather nice village and the rent for the house was €500.00 euros a month. The house had been split up into 2 apartments, one on each floor and the owner kept a private studio on the top floor. The apartment we looked at was on the second floor. As we climbed the communal staircase (I was still thinking about the dream villa) we were shown into the apartment. It was spectacular, the dinning-room and lounge were open plan and furnished with leather sofas, there was a nice kitchen and a small but adequate bathroom. While Mrs S wandered around the kitchen I suddenly realised the absence of anything that looked like a bedroom.

There was a very impressive wooden wardrobe in the lounge and I opened the door to see if the bedroom door had been cleverly disguised. Nothing, it was just an empty wardrobe. I walked over to Mrs S and said “I don’t want to appear stupid, but where will we sleep, I can’t find any bedrooms.

I wasn't sure what I would find when I opened the wardrobe, maybe a bedroom or maybe a lion and a witch

I wasn’t sure what I would find when I opened the wardrobe, maybe a bedroom or maybe a lion and a witch

Mrs Sensible: My husband has just asked were the bedrooms are.

Owner: Ahh! You are in the day side of the house; let me show you the night side of the house.

Me: What did he say?

Mrs S: Wait!

The owner walked to the front door and opened it; he walked across the communal staircase and unlocked another door.

Owner: The night side of the house is through here, look there are 2 bedrooms and a shower room.

Me: You are kidding me! So when I want a glass of water in the middle of the night, I have to go in search of the keys to open 2 doors and walk naked across a communal staircase to get to the kitchen!!!

Mrs S: You will have to wear pyjamas.

Me: I don’t wear pyjamas.

Mrs S: You will have to put on your dressing gown.

Me: And if I forget and the neighbour sees me streaking across the staircase?

Mrs S: PN!!!

I think part of my dislike for the house (a really small part) was because I wanted the magnificent villa with the Sicilian furniture and diesel fired central heating.

The third house we looked at was frankly just amazing. We were made to stand outside in the rain while the owner showed some other viewers his house. While the rain ran down my neck I asked Mrs S how much the rent on the house was. €600 a month she told me. Wow it must be fantastic.

How to expand your house the italian way

How to expand your house the italian way

We entered the house and walked down a hallway, there was a sofa in the hallway that we had to navigate around. The hallway opened into a good sized dining room complete with a very large table. There was a very, very small kitchen through a door. As we stood in the kitchen I showed Mrs Sensible how I could touch all four walls without moving my feet.  Stop it she told me, there will be another kitchen elsewhere maybe upstairs.

I walked back to the hallway and sat on the sofa.

Owner: (in Italian) Ah you have found the lounge.

Me: Sorry I don’t understand, I am English.

Mrs Sensible: She said you are sitting in the lounge.

Me: (hysterically) ask her where the kitchen is.

Mrs S: Can you please tell me where the kitchen is.

Owner: It is small but it is through that door….

Me: Let’s go home.

We went upstairs and viewed a large bathroom, down a corridor there was a door that led to bedroom number 1, on the other side of the bedroom was another door that led into bedroom number 2, and if you walked through that room there was yet another door leading to bedroom number 3.

Me: This is bizarre, if we have guests in bedroom number 3, they will have to walk through two bedrooms if they need to visit the bathroom. This house is just a mass of corridors with no proper rooms.

Owner: What did your husband say?

Mrs S: He said you have a very nice house.

To this day I am not sure how they fitted three large bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and only a corridor and a dining-room downstairs.

To end this post I want to direct you to one of my earlier posts on the hazards of owning a summer house in Italy.

Link A little Summer House

Our house

Our house

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