Thursday, January 23, 2014

This is Italy

Living in Italy is a wonderfully fun adventure that definitely has its quirks. We say the phrase "this is Italy" a lot in my family (even before Ryan and I moved here), which stems from the time my parents were on their honeymoon in Lake Como and their luggage was lost. My mother went down to the front desk to ask if they knew when the airline might possibly deliver the luggage, and the man stared at her, shrugged, and said "this is Italy."


After living and traveling in Italy on and off for three years now, we certainly have our own set of "this is Italy" moments that we've collected.

There was my own luggage story: without fail, every year that we've arrived in Venice, one of our bags has not arrived with us. We shuffle over to the Lost Baggage window to report it, and they ask us for our address in Cortina where they can deliver the bag "should it turn up." But we never know our address until we get up here, as year to year we aren't sure where we'll be living until we show up on the door step. Last year, it was my LL Bean duffel that was lost in the travel, and we listed the address of friends in Cortina that I had learned by heart before we left, just in case. The woman in the Lost Baggage window wrote down the information, nodded, and sent us on our way and we came up to Cortina without the bag. Three days later, there was still no sign of my bag. Calling the airlines to ask literally makes it worse, so I waited and waited. "At least you aren't on vacation!" said Ryan, "At least you still have two of your bags!" Yes, but of course not the one with my sneakers and face lotion. On the fifth day, I arrived back at our apartment after a trip to the grocery store and my bag was sitting alone in our hallway, having been delivered by the airline (not to the address I gave them, but to the right address, nevertheless). As I went to unzip it to free my sneakers and go for a walk, I noticed tags plastered all over the bag that indicated that after being lost in Frankfurt (where our layover was), the bag had traveled to the Middle East before making its way to Venice. I still can NOT figure out how that happened.

There was the time we moved to our new apartment this year and didn't get hooked up to the internet for four weeks. For ONE MONTH. In week one, Ryan had discussions with the team management on what type of internet would be best to get. In week two, the management forgot about us. In week three, Ryan asked an Italian friend for help in getting the internet. In week four, the internet company showed up every other day drilling holes in the wall, shooting cables through the door and testing which way the wind was blowing, until they were finally able to connect us. A month later.

Then there was the time this winter, when we discovered a patch of mold in the corner of our living room. We called the team manager, and asked what we should do, he called the team president to ask what we should do, and HE called the owners of our apartment to ask what we should do.....like one giant game of telephone, but with a moldy wall in the middle of it. We got the mold taken care of with a spray that cleans it off (and probably will kill us too), but in the midst of all this, the owners told Alberto that we had our heat on too much which was the reason we had mold. This outraged me because I grew up in a house where my mother constantly told the babysitters "Sorry, we keep our house cold, if you need a jacket, there are some in the closet." I keep the heat at 18 degrees Celsius which is only SIXTY FOUR DEGREES FAHRENHEIT! That's what my own non-heat-turning-on mother turns the heat down to at night and this is what I have it on during the day! I took this very personally. Instead of leaving our heat at 18 all the time, they suggested, why didn't we keep it off and wait until we were completely freezing and then turn it up to 25 or THIRTY for a bit until we warmed up. Just so you know, 30 Celsius is 86 degrees.

Of course there was the time when we didn't know how to recycle.

And then there was the time that I was having a conversation with an Italian friend of mine. We were driving, and discussing what happens when you hit a deer (we were on a stretch of road that is infamous for having rogue deer that dart out at any point in time). She asked me what happened at home if you hit a deer and I told her nothing, except that it's sad and sometimes your car is ruined. She then explained to me that the rules on hitting deer in Italy differ by province. Your car insurance never covers the damage unless you pay for a separate "deer hitting package" which is very expensive, so you have to pay for everything yourself. "But," she told me, concluding the conversation, "after you hit the deer, you get to keep it."