Saturday, December 02, 2006

Meeting the landlords 11.24.06

(still not able to post photos so I hope you won't get bored with just my writing but we are trying everything we know and searching for technical assistance)

Meeting the landlord

As I have written, we've have been trying to meet our new landlords. In each of our other apartments this has happened upon our arrival, since we had arranged to rent these places directly from the owners. This place was a different story. We had had a difficult time finding something in this area we could afford and finally used an agent to help us. His contact was yet another middle man here in Vietri and we didn't even know who owned this place but were determined to try to find out. We just felt that it was important since we would be living here for several months, for them to know who we were and vice versa. Make it more personal I guess. Our neighbors upstairs said they were friends with the owners of our apartment who also owned the hotel down the road. The apartment was missing some things when we arrived and Nigel (our agent) delivered on his promise to provide many. But we were still waiting for someone to fix the bathroom window that wouldn't close securely and the front door lock that didn't seem completely secure when locked from the outside (when we are inside the apartment there are 3 different locks on the door - making us feel a bit like living in the Bronx although everyone says this area is very safe.)

We went to the hotel to look for the Signore several different days, at different times of the day, when we thought of it and each time we were told he was not there. Perhaps in the morning? Perhaps in the afternoon? Perhaps tomorrow? Then finally one of the guys gave us a business card for the ceramics shop the Signora, his wife, runs in centro and we went in search of her there. But then she was not there! We found her son working in the shop and told him we wanted to meet his parents and that there were some problems we needed to talk to them about. He was very nice, said he would tell his mother and they would take care of the problems.

We received a phone call that same afternoon from the Signora, very kind, very nice, sorry she had not met us yet and certainly she would send someone to assess the situation and fix what needed to be fixed. We misunderstood and thought she was coming herself with a repairman. Instead, a second son with another guy came (Thanksgiving day in fact!) and they looked at the lock and went off to find something to replace it with. Just as I was putting my thanksgiving dinner on the table, they returned and proceeded to change out the lock on the door. A few screws were left sticking out, a few looking a bit questionable, but they made it fit. It seemed to work. But aesthetically, well, it left a bit to be desired. We stopped in the shop the next day and talked with her. How did it go, she asked us. Were we happy? Reluctantly I responded that it was OK, but not great. She came back herself later on with another repairman, looked at the lock and told him to fix it. Looked at the window and told him to fix that too. He brought in a plastic bag, overflowing with tools and proceeded to go to work on the window. First with a small sledgehammer, a welder, assorted large and small metal tools, drills, and a rather large grinder. We were certain we would need someone to replace the glass before he was through! After much wringing of hands and upturned palms, shrugging and talking under his breath, amazingly, he fixed the window! It is a casement window with one of those latches that you pull up and out to open and the catch was not catching. I don't know what he did, but he fixed it. It now works like a charm. I must admit we were skeptical that he knew what he was doing. But I guess he did. Then he went to work on the new lock and fixed that too. Now the screws are down in place like they should be and it works perfectly.

I'm just delighted that we have finally met her. She seems very lovely and we appreciate the fact that as soon as we told her directly of these issues, she took care of them right away. And just knowing who she is and where to find her makes us feel more comfortable. We weren't so sure about this middleman guy and how effective he was going to be.

Next issue, getting our residency changed from Verona to Vietri. We showed her the kind of form we needed, that would say we are renting an apartment from her. It seems she has never had to do this before and had to speak with her husband and see what they needed to do. We have been legal this whole time and want to make sure we stay that way. We probably should have already done this and we did ask Nigel about it when we arrived but as we are still waiting, we figured we would go right to the source. Hopefully it doesn't end up being a problem. We'll see. Piano piano (slowly, slowly).

It's interesting here. The whole tax situation. Taxes are very high for businesses we have been told. It's terrible, they say. And some people have an interesting way of dealing with it. They fudge on stuff. They don't ring up quite the whole amount. We bought fish at the market one day. It cost 5 euros. The receipt she gave me said 4 euros and she laughed a little sheepishly and said "sconto" which means discount. Same thing at a little pottery shop. I paid 15 euros for a small candle holder. He rung up 10. "Sconto" he said. But not a discount for me. A discount for them, since they have to pay the tax on the full amount on the receipt. And they are required by law to give you one.

We hope to get our paperwork soon so we can at least apply for the residency here. Knowing how long it took in each of the other cities we have lived in for the official residency certificate to arrive, we are certain we will be long gone before it is final but we will at least have applied and that is as good as having it. We have our carta d'identita, (identity cards) and permesso di soggiorno (permits of stay) good until April so all the other necessary paperwork is in order. We only have four more months left to our adventure. Hard to believe we are looking at the tail end of this journey now. Really hard to believe.

With more to come,
Rosemary and Bob

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