Today I think I had my first “real” Italian experience. It was quite something let me tell you. I am pretty sure my narrative will not really get across the craziness.
We had an appointment with Cecelia who works for Francesca who is helping us to get our utility contracts transferred. We met her in the Piazza and proceeded to go over to the water and gas company just behind the Comune building.
The three of us approached the desk where an attractive young woman helped us. We gave her the name of the former owner and she proceeded to look up the records. She told us we needed to go read the meter and bring her the number. Luckily we were only steps from our doorway.
Turns out there is a small metal door beside the front door with the gas meter readings. There are three apartments in the building. At this time another woman, named Josephine who lives just next door came to help. She explained she helps our downstairs neighbor all the time. We didn’t know which meter was ours and which was hers. Josephine rang her bell and she came out onto the balcony just above us. She got very agitated. She came down, wearing what looked like her PJs ( I think she has gone a bit soft in the head) and from what I could understand she thought we were trying to cheat her or steal from her. She called us Banditos. I was thinking to myself, well this is great way to start life in our building!
She went right over to the Gas and Water place. Meanwhile we decided to write down the meter readings for both meters and take them over. The old lady came back glowering at us. We went over to the Gas place and gave them the numbers and they were able to figure out which was ours. Of course Josephine (who I suspect is one of the neighbor busy bodies) came along. There ensued a very amusing, high volume with much hand gesticulation discussion between Josephine, our downstairs neighbor, Cecelia, and the Gas lady behind the counter. Josephine kept trying to explain to our neighbor that we were just trying to figure out which was our meter. Luther and I just stood back and watched. It was quite amazing. I noticed all the Italians except for our agitated neighbor were highly amused. Finally Josephine convinced our neighbor (I need to get her name) that we were not Banditos and that we were not trying to cheat her. She looked sheepish and she apologized and we shook hands and she spoke a lot of Italian to me and I just nodded. So I guess we are friends again. After she left a policeman came by and told us he’d put names on the meters. She must have gone to the police too!!! He was amused as well.
Anyway, we got the gas into our names. Luther had to sign papers at least 27 times. We got copies. All is well with the world. We have an appointment to return with Cecilia in 2 weeks to do the water. I wonder if it will be as exciting?
We also told Cecilia that we would try to handle our Permesso di Soggiorno ourselves (with help from our friend John). I didn’t get good vibes from Francesca about doing the Permesso. They had not done this before and I didn’t want to pay for them to learn.
John had told us to go the post office and get the packets. We went and it was another interesting experience. You go in and there are a lot of people waiting. Everyone has a number. We looked at the little kiosk where there are 4 choices. You pick one and you get a ticket. Well we weren’t sure what they said but we picked the most likely one. We got number 138. They were on 114. We sat down and waited. They dinged out the changing numbers and gave you about 2 seconds to get to the window before they went to the next number and you were screwed. I felt very sorry for an older man next to us who wasn’t quick enough and lost his place and had to start again. If you are old and infirm like him you can’t leap up and run to the window. Kind of mean I thought. We took no chances and when they got to 136 we got up and got close to the windows.
Anyway, what with all the numbers that no one got to the window in time for we got to ours in about 20 minutes or so. It was quite the show. We got our Permesso packets and headed home. Another eventful day in Umbertide!