Sunday, December 01, 2013

"Perks" of living in Italy

There are so many wonderful things about living in Italy - but there are days that I long for the comforts and conveniences of home.  I think the honeymoon phase of our Italian life has definitely passed.  For example.  It is cold.  I've mentioned that before, and YES I grew up in Utah with snow and freezing temps but you know what we also had?  Insulated houses and central heating.  Here all the houses are made of cinder block and have NO insulation.   We can run our radiators or a space heater and it will take the chill off but because the walls/ceiling/floor are cement the heat goes away very quickly.  When we wake up our house is routinely 50 degrees...INSIDE.   I'll turn the radiators on (oh how I wish they could be set on a timer!) for an hour to take the bite out of the air.  But once I take Miles to school I just layer, layer, layer to keep warm.  Thermal undies, leggings, sweatpants, hoodie, socks, and slippers.  I will run a space heater under my desk while I work...and that is heaven!  In the evening we'll run the radiators for another hour, maybe...only if it's super cold.  Why don't we just run the radiators all day you ask?  Well...because it is SPENDY.  Like, super spendy.  We figured out that we use 7 litres of gas for every hour the radiators are on.  Gas is about $1/litre.  So if we have the radiators on for 3 hours a day for the month it would end up costing us about $600/month.  And that only keeps our house warm for THREE hours a day...the rest of the time it would hover between 50-55 degrees.  That is a LOT of money to pay for not a lot of comfort.  Hence the reason for the layering and the snuggies and the massive quantities of hot chocolate/cider/tea ingested. 

Also - the power.  Oh mamma mia.  If it rains, our power goes out.  If we have too many things plugged in, the power goes out.  If it surges (which happens almost every day at least once), the power goes out.  And "too many things" is not many at all.  For example...I cannot run the washer and dryer at the same time as a space heater (or the oven, or the microwave).  So earlier this week when Miles had rotovirus and I had 4+ loads of laundry to do (our washer/dryer are TINY) I had the choice...clean, barf-free clothes/sheets/blankets or warm feet.  I opted for barf free and put on an extra pair of socks.  So we froze all day while I did the four batches of laundry. 

Imagine it is 5:30pm and you are hungry...and you don't want to cook dinner.  In America your options are unlimited....well, limited only by budget.  Here?  Nothing.  Restaurants will all be closed still from riposo and won't re-open for dinner for another hour and a half at least.  There is a McDonald's at the airport...and a Burger King over near IKEA...both are 30+ minutes away and not what I want.   

And everything will get done "domani" (tomorrow).  We have been having problems with our cell phone company since MARCH.  They keep saying "give us a week and we'll fix it".'s been a LOT of weeks and nothing is done.  Customer service is non-existent here in Italy.  You don't like it?  Tough.   Even when I threatened legal intervention I was laughed at!   Our landlords seem to be the exception to "domani".  If something is broken or needs attention they help that day - or at the VERY latest the next.  We are SO grateful to have them!  

Italian food is amazing.  Seriously.  But what I would give for a plate of sushi.  Or a bowl of Thai curry.  Or Chick-fil-A.  Or (gasp!) Olive Garden's salad.  Italians aren't big on other culture's food.  At all.  We found one "Chinese" place that does ok...but it's almost an Italian's interpretation of Chinese food.   And there are a couple sushi places downtown Naples...but I hear mixed reviews.   I can make things of course  - provided I can find the ingredients.  Cilantro, avocados, and yellow squash are hit or miss at the base grocery store.  And things like Lemongrass and masago and spaghetti squash are impossible to find.   I've found raspberries here twice.  

Speaking of food.  A lot has recently come out in the media about thousands of tons of toxic (in some cases nuclear) waste being buried all around where we the towns where our produce is grown.  It is frightening.  It's obviously not good for us...but then if we were in the states we'd be dealing with GMO's...not sure which is worse. 

I know this seems like a whiny post - and it is.  I love living in Italy 90% of the time.  But I've had a rough week here and I need to vent.  And I also want to have this down so when I'm back in the US someday feeling nostalgic for Italy that I can remember that it wasn't all smiles and butterflies.  Not that living in the US is all smiles and butterflies either...


Hanna said...

It's okay, you can vent all you want! I COMPLETELY understand!

Ann Herron said...

I remember the cold in Portugal. Once I found an old horse blanket and was SOSO glad to have it, in addition to my coat, to put on my bed at night. Sending you warm thoughts.