Thursday, July 16, 2009

Real Life in Italy; the TRUE Story

When most people come to Italy, they quite often experience
an ideal Italian holiday, La Dolce Vita (Sweet Life)
sipping espressos on the piazza
meandering through rolling Tuscan vineyards and olive groves
with subsequent wine tasting
dining on fabulous food,
strolling down quaint little cobblestone streets,
gazing in wonder at Michelangelo's David in Florence,
drifting down the canals of Venice in a gondola...get the picture?
Life in Italy is really different for the Friedmans when we get here.
We ALWAYS end up with about 8 checked HUGE
bags, a few various carry ons, backpacks, etc.
Wonder who it all belongs to?
(my poor family begs me each time to pack lightly. I never do)
A scenic vista leaving the airport.

2 hours later:Cortona...
ok, I know it is beautiful isn't it?
But back to Friedman life in Italy...
The first day we got here, our good friend Denys
(who is a force of nature)
whisks us off to do tedious errands that go with the territory of
actually living here.
We own an 20 year old junker Citroen AX that has served us well these past 9 years since we have made Cortona our other home.
Denys was kind enough to let us leave it in her apartment parking lot for the 9 months
since we were here last.
Each year I pay the insurance premium on the car,
but this year I let it lapse ,
 planning to get rid of the car this summer, and buy one from some friends.
An actual GROWN UP car with air-conditioning that can get up a hill with 4
people in the car without having everyone hop out while we
gun the car up the hill. AND
it was made in 2004, not 1988!!!!

At any rate, someone must have complained over the car
being parked for so long, so the Vigili (police) arrived and noted the
expired insurance sticker in the window.
Che bello!
The Vigili love giving tickets for any infraction, and ticket they did.
(he looks happy, doesn't he?)
They somehow got a hold of Denys and informed her of our grave misdeed of the expired insurance.
She explained the situation and told them that she would take care of
paying the insurance premium in the morning.
"Va bene" (okay) they said.
No problema.
She paid the insurance premium the next day and
returned home to find the car gone.

Seems as though someone thought it would be fun to tow the car anyway
(we think the Vigili are in bed with the towing company=SCAM)
So, guess what?
We need to go and pick up the car on our first day in Italy.
Now you think it would be just down the road or something.
It is over an hour away.
It is in the middle of nowhere, somewhere up north.
The Vigili told Denys where the car was,in some little town
in the mountains somewhere.
We naturally don't have a phone number, just a name of this outfit and a
supposed town.
We arrive at the town 1 1/2 hour later, there is nothing there
except about 10 houses
and certainly no towed cars sitting around.
We ask directions and get led to some other town.
No towed cars there either.
At this point we have been driving around in circles for about 2 hours.
We are really in the middle of
Denys is swearing up and down in a torrent of rapid fire Italian.
I understand most of it, and then I hear her say:
"Siamo nel Culo a Cristo!"
I burst out laughing pretty sure I understood her correctly.
I did.
She was emphatically stating that we had arrived
at Christ's asshole, or in english:
the Middle of NOWHERE.
I translated for Rob, and he erupted in laughter, he kept muttering over and over,
Culo a Cristo, Culo a Cristo...
like a mantra,commiting it to memory
so that he can add this gem to his
Italian vocab list of approximately
50 assorted nouns and verbs that he has managed to retain
over the 10 years we have been coming here.
In Culo a Cristo.
I have to say, I like that alot better than our version:
Middle of NOWHERE.

But back to the car saga:
We finally find this place.
(I can't begin to count how many times hereI have been lost
or had some calamity that
seems unresolvable
but it does eventually work out...)
And there it is:
Our Beloved Citroen AX!

Denyse doing the paperwork to pay the ticket on the car.
350 euro.
Approximately $460.
An expensive adventure for the Friedmans.
Now our dilemma is this:
Do we take the Citroen back even though we will only need it a few more days until we get the new one from our friends? We can't sell it,
It isn't worth a nickel or even a euro.

We could give it to someone, but then you have to jump through more red tapes to pass the pink slip over to the new owner.
That would be another day of driving around Christ's Culo in the 900 degree heat standing in offices like this one, while other tourists
are enjoying the Italy pictured at the beginning of the post.
AND NO GUARANTEE we could even find someone to give it to
because the transfer of ownership costs about 300 euro or $400+.
Our other option would be to leave it here with these guys,
pay 100 euro and they demolish it.

I think we will find another way to be generous in the world.
Ok signori.
It's yours.

Junk it!
Ciao Citroen!
By now we are all tired, sweaty, hungry.
I, of course, could keep going all day
with a piece of cheese for lunch, if that even.
But not these two.
Denys takes us to the nearest big town, Arezzo,
to eat at some little hole in the wall bar that her friend owns
that we would
NEVER know about.
It wasn't that glamour bar that was pictured at the start of this post,
but we had a great little lunch, (Denys and I had chick food, fresh tomato, tuna and mozzarella salad, Rob had guy food, PASTA, or CARBS)
homemade olive oil drizzled on warm focaccia bread,
an excellent caffe macchiato to finish it all off...
how much better does it get?
I'll take the Friedman Dolce Vita any day!

Hey, and it's only 2:00!
We have another Friedman Real Life Italian experience lined up for
this afternoon...stay tuned...


Jane Rosemont said...

I will not cry for you, Citroen!

Judy said...

Do you think the vomit is still encrusted in that car. At least it had so many wonderful stories to tell.

Michele said...

Donate the car to the Catholic church. They'll take anything and you can rest assured knowing your car will be driven by nuns.

jennie k. said...

laughing so hard. i LOVE the photo of you and rob and your fabulous smile AND the boot. so glamorous...gotta love those first-day-in-a-new(ish)-country-adventures!! :)

denys said...

con voi Friedmans รจ sempre un avventura !
se voi non ci foste ,bisognerebbe inventarvi !
ma il risutato non sarebbe lo stesso.
un bacio

cabfare productions said...

you know of course the Vigil well sell it the towing company's owners nephew who will sell it at a huge profit to a construction worker from Bangladesh who will pack it with his entire family of six and be happy as a clam So it's almost like giving it to charity!

Bonnie said...

When are you going to eat guy food?
Wishing I was there, but not for this particular adventure.

Rochelle said...

Oh....I remember that car oh so well...especially when you told us we had to get out right away when we were heading up the hill to town! I thought you were kidding but then realized that we really couldn't make it any further without bailing out of the back! lol...
Wish I was there again for another workshop....maybe in the future!
Have a great summer while you are there!

Anonymous said...

Great story. 30 anni fa I did have a FIAT 850, can't remember the year, maybe 1962. I got several tickets and freaked out till my Italian friends reminded me that I'd be back home in California 6 months before the authorities knew who I was!