Monday, September 6, 2021

Life in Italy has its mundane aspects along with the sublime

What was it like to drive into Montecarlo and walk into our home after being away nearly two years? I felt an odd mixture of euphoria and depression.

Montecarlo looked vibrant and full of life, the streets crowded with tables packed with restaurant clients. The wine festival was in full swing. The weather here is perfect, sunny and in the mid- to high-70s during the daytime, perfect for outdoor dining—which is all that is permitted during current Covid regulations.

Entering our house, it looked the same, and we were reminded instantly of all the improvements we had made since we bought it in 2015—all new electrical outlets and circuits, a gorgeous wooden stairway to the attic, three operable skylights and a floor and walls in the attic, new paint in the hallway and main bedroom. The view from our terrazza is still breathtaking. The once crumbling stucco exterior has been refreshed and repainted. Our roof does not leak anymore. Our downstairs neighbors kindly left a basket of food in our kitchen with a welcoming message.

But then we started feeling weighed down with numerous problems we had to face. Calcium build-up in the water lines meant our toilet didn’t flush and the cold water tap in the bathroom sink didn’t work. The house, especially the bathroom, smelled terrible, the likely source being sewage gases coming up from the bidet drain after many months of disuse. The doorbell was inoperative, which meant we couldn’t open the door for guests without running down two flights of stairs. But we wouldn’t know if we had guests anyway, since the buzzer wouldn’t sound. This presents an additional problem, since one piece of luggage has been lost in transit and will eventually, we hope, be delivered by a currier, but how will we know when he arrives?

Our gas has been shut off for lack of payment, a byproduct of our bank account having been frozen for eight months because of my identity theft issue. Fortunately, the water and electricity were still on despite our unpaid bills (we received notice only two weeks ago that our bank account has finally been reactivated, two months after Simecom told us we were not responsible for the unpaid bills incurred by a fraudster in another city).

What else? Our Italian SIM cards are not longer valid because of inactivity, so we have to buy new SIM cards and will be assigned new phone numbers—but the phone store we use was out of cards for Digi Mobil Italia, and we will have to come back in a few days. We have no internet in our home, so we have to go to the gelateria, the library or a restaurant to make a connection.

However, this is our third day here, and the problems are gradually falling by the wayside. After I flushed the toilet numerous times, it started working properly. The doorbell didn’t work because I had turned off some unneeded circuits when we left the house two years ago, including the ones to the doorbell and oven. Running copious amounts of water down the bidet several times a day seems to have solved the odor problem. Our neighbor Juri says he will have his internet back up soon, and we can use it as we did in previous years.

And so, piano, piano (slowly, slowly), our remaining problems will get ironed out. Hopefully our luggage will arrive today, and Juri will fix his internet sooner rather than later. We will finish unpacking, we will clean our dirty floors, we will get our gas turned back on, we will hire a plumber, we will get our Italian phone numbers, we will throw out the two-year-old food in our cabinets—and we can start living la dolce vita once again. Rome was not built in a day.


  1. Enjoyed your article, Paul. Didn’t realize there could be so many problems but very happy you have been able to resolve them. Enjoy la dolce vita! Ciao.

  2. Maybe I should have asked what is the best time to visit when issues are minimal. (j/k) Enjoy your writing style.


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