Used to be, I couldn’t just sit and do nothing. I had no patience for waiting. I’d always want things done, like, yesterday. Or if I had to wait for something, I made damn sure that I had something else to do while I sat around, something that I wanted to do.
The apartment was still not completely finished when we closed on it. I guess we were naive. So we issued ultimatums to the builder. And finally, we told him we were coming over to set the place up.
It was a chilly February when we got there. We had hardly any furniture, so we still had to sleep and eat at Giovanna’s place. But we’d spend days in the apartment—we did have a kitchen table and chairs. And power, so we could play music.
So what did we do? We waited for hours. We waited for days. The builder didn’t quite finish on time. So we had tacky (literally, sticky) newly varnished wooden floors, no real lighting fixtures, just suspended light bulbs. And a shower without any kind of enclosure. One of the first things we demanded of him was a “cabina doccia,” or shower enclosure. It took a few days, but a plumber showed up and we had one. (The builder, bless his black soul, tried to charge us for something we should’ve had from the start.)
The apartment was a new space, so old utility accounts couldn’t be carried over. So that meant getting an account for electricity, telephone/Internet and gas. And gas. Did I say gas? That one took, wait for it, a year and a half. Why? The builder didn’t file the right kind of filing, missed appointments, pipes that were too short, you name it. For the first year or so, we had an arrangement with our downstairs neighbor and tapped into her account. At one point after another delay, my Perugian friend Antonio said “this is war.” Happily, that last step involved a short war and in a month we had our very own gas meter and connection.
Then, shopping. We needed furniture. We needed household stuff. You usually accumulate stuff over the years. We did a crash course. At that point, I was still in a relatively romantic phase, and I was still impatient to get on with life there. Who wanted to go shopping for cooking utensils and a TV? So a trip to the IperCoop, a huge supermarket/everything store in the suburbs in, of all things, a shopping mall.
After that, bliss. We spent big chunks of the next summers in Italy. Sometimes we’d take advantage of cheap European flights and go off the Barcelona, Paris, Greece. But most of the time, we’d hang out in Perugia and Umbria, rent a car, wander, visit friends, sleep, read all night. If we wanted to swim, there’s a big municipal pool in Perugia. Or we’d drive an hour and a half or two and go to the Adriatic coast.
Nicer than the cave, right? This was early on, before nightstands and a desk and the seemingly zillions of chargers so necessary to daily life. And we had a mantle for the fireplace. It looks so clean and unused now…we still don’t use it for fires, because it’s a handy place for potatoes, bottles of wine and mineral water, various implements, stuff like that. Plus I, er, broke the flue chain.
Next: Umbria: Think of it as Italy’s Vermont, but not as cold