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The Return To Italy

May 11, 2018

 

We come and go between our residences in both North Carolina and the Italian Alps with great regularity. We have done so for years and have gotten used to the routine. With few exceptions, it’s not a terrible transition. So this year should not have been any different, right? Wrong!

Let’s start with the trip itself. We got up at 2:30 in the morning in order to shut down all of our services in North Carolina, lock-up and head to the airport with a neighbor who thankfully agreed to pick us up at 4:45 AM. (Bless you Don!) We got to the airport in twenty minutes and waited for our 6 AM flight to Atlanta. Things went smoothly and we were in Atlanta by 7 AM. Of course the trouble was that our flight to Munich, Germany did not depart until 5 PM. That’s ten hours in the Atlanta airport with little to do but exercise out thumbs.

We eagerly sought out the Sojourner’s Restaurant on the C Concourse to have breakfast. Sparing all of the details, let’s just say that it was the worst meal we have ever had anywhere on the face of the planet. The grease was thick, the service surly and the end result was extreme gastronomical problems for the next 20 hours.

After twiddling our thumbs for hour after hour with no hope of even a nap, we finally boarded the plane for Munich. The plane was half empty so we moved to the back to avoid a family with two babies. (I always have a great fear that some toddler will throw up on my laptop.)  I watched a not too memorable movie and settled down to a couple of glasses of wine to mask the taste of the rubber chicken dinner.

I finally went off to sleep only to be awakened by an unusual occurrence: An ice storm off the coast of Ireland at 30,000 feet. I did not indeed know that hail can strike a plane at that altitude. After listening to the engines surge for ten minutes or so and hearing the pelting come to a stop, I rolled over, sighed and nodded back off. A short time later I smelled food and was treated to a boxed breakfast of dubious content. Setting the rock hard mini bagel aside, I awaited eagerly our decent into Munich.

The plane landed a bit early at 8 AM and so I was sure the shuttle we booked would be there at 9:30 AM. They are supposed to be there at the Treffpunkt every three hours starting at 9:30. They never showed up, opting to come at 12:30 instead. That was another 4 1/2 hours of sitting on our butts and pleasantly yammering in German.

The bus finally showed up but the driver seemed disoriented. We made our way down the continent toward Bolzano, Italy. Four and half hours later the driver missed the exit for Klausen, sending the only passenger to exit there into a complete panic. This poor elderly soul had a speech impediment and I needed to translate her frustration to the driver. In the end, he decided to drop the rest of us off in Bolzano and then return to Klausen. Forty hours had passed so I reluctantly muttered, “Whatever!”

Our friend met us in Bolzano (Bless you Maurizio!) and finally we were home some 42 hours after getting up for the journey in the United States. This is normal fare for us so we didn’t bitch. Then the real fun began.

Item One: No hot water or heat. The whole damned Italian made system was off. Actually, we found that it had been sabotaged by a neighbor who hates Americans. (Who doesn’t?) We got that one fixed in short order but had to turn on the oven for heat. (Better that I had stuck my head in it.)

Item Two: We apparently brought a snow storm with us. The morning after our arrival, we were treated to a sloppy foot of fresh snow. I took the cue from my Italian neighbors and let God do his magic. In other words I sat on my butt with a grappa in hand and waited for the white stuff to melt away.

The next surprise was that the Italian postal service had decided in our absence to deliver mail only on alternate days. The whole country is bankrupt, so what did it matter.  Their avisio did not faze me; I have become almost immune to third world inconveniences. The fact that our trash was not picked-up as agreed was also not a surprise. I will leave it at the curb, Napoli style, until they fetch it eventually.

We then found that virtually everyone had changed their business hours during our absence. After we arrived at the recycle center to where we must drive at our own expense to mandatorily recycle virtually everything, we found that center too had changed its hours and was closed. No problem: Another expensive trip and a pair of rubber gloves solved that one.

The corker was our hasty trip to Trento to retrieve our re-issued green cards. By law they were supposed to be ready early last fall but we were told because of the influx of illegal immigrants, they would not be ready until January. We arrived at their office on April 16 only to be told they would not be ready for another two weeks. All of this for a couple that have been EU residents for over 16 years. Ridiculous is too kind a word. The Italians could not even build a toy Lincoln Log Cabin without a delay of a year. La vergogna!

The Italian holiday of April 25 (Liberation Day) came and passed without a single thank you as always. These folks obviously think they liberated themselves from the Nazis. (Yeah, right!)  Instead, virtually everyone here now wants to take a poke at us about Donald Trump. My response? Fan cuolo!

Three weeks in and we are still stumbling around between miscues of dentist appointments, frantic grocery shopping to avoid the intervalo, attending multiple funerals and trying to get a new hot water system. This is not a vacation folks! This is simply Reality 101 in Italy.

6 Comments
  1. Sounds like Groundhog Day to me! 🙂 So sorry for all your trouble. Hurry home, and we’ll make it all better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Why do you suppose Italy has all these problems? I really adore Bolzano, btw.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Italy can indeed be a frustrating place … still, the food is better than in most other places and the women are predominantly good-looking but then my wife says, “che sono di bocce buona”!. I’ve been here so long that the no change in nothing has finally caught up with me sending me into a long overdue state of culture shock, which my blog only partially helps me vent. Since you left Allen catastrophic Mediterranean hurricanes, tornadoes and tropical, gale-force rainstorms have literally leveled many parts of northern and southern Italy. Turin has begun to go under and – if the rain doesn’t stop soon – it is only a matter of time before the whole Po valley is flooded! If this keeps up, we may soon begin to see an exit of residents and migrants recent (and less recent)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My wife and I have been all over the world. We have lived in Europe for two decades. However we still adamantly consider ourselves Americans first and foremost. With all of the wonderful things that Italy and Europe can offer, we are still relieved and most happy when we return to the United States.

      Speaking of tornadoes, we actually had a large one near our home in Italy a couple of years ago. That along with the one near Innsbruck were firsts in history. Obviously there have been some drastic changes in world-wide climate and no place is safe from their unpredictable affects.

      Like

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