Three tanks of expensive gasoline, many kilometers in a clapped-out rental Panda and thousands of steps later, we may actually we able to do normal things like sit on chairs, cook in a kitchen, and take showers in a country house we closed on last November.
My first weekend here, I pretty much hid out from the heat in the city, did some work, took some naps, and in general did nothing much at all in glorious solitude. I did drive up here a couple of times because I wanted to get acquainted with the house, but because of Perugia’s compact size, and the fairly strict land-use rules, it’s a quick run from city to country. You’re in the country almost as soon as you leave the city limits. And I took walks to take in some free music and cheap, good “artigianale” beer.
Besides, I needed to conserve some energy for the arrival of The Spartan Woman.
I did miss her. But I knew that once she arrived, it would be nonstop activity. She always claims that she’s a low-energy person, but I have yet to see much evidence of that. And I’ve known her for decades. Sure, she will sit and do crossword puzzles on her Mac for hours, but I suspect it’s so that she 1—can conserve some energy for her next move (see above) or 2—she’s plotting her next move.
It began with me racing to Rome’s airport to pick her up. She was carrying household items in one big bag, and a few clothes in another. I chivalrously gave her the chance to avoid buses and trains, and she took me up on on it.
But then…What does one do on the first full day in Italy? You might think some time to get acclimated, to have a good meal, to stroll, have an aperitivo, to wind down from the pre-trip craziness of getting the pets settled and the bills paid, etc.
You would think wrong. We raced across the center of the country to Ancona, on the Adriatic. Not to go to the beach. No, IKEA, that most fiendish of Swedish inventions. We had a deadline: Young people are coming next month, and they might want a bed to sleep in and some furniture to perch upon.
But it’s in Italy. Exotic, no? No. It’s exactly the same, bar some Italian items in the restaurant. The same goofy names, the same maze that drives you crazy. What is different is the kindness and helpfulness of customer service. We found someone who, knowing we needed some stuff fast, worked really hard to get good
delivery and assembly dates. (I’m too old for performing the dark assembly arts of IKEA.)
When Tina, the customer service person, saw that I was getting antsy, she told me to go and play, and gave me a voucher for the restaurant’s bar. An espresso and pastry later, I was a happy guy.