More bureaucracy….

I feel as if I may be boring you all with my account of the weather here, but coming from Adelaide it’s just so novel to have rain! Boy does Tuscany do a good storm though. We’ve had thunder and lightning here for over 36 hours and rain….so much rain. It’s the type of rain you would find in the tropics, except it’s not all that warm here. It’s a real soaking rain with big droplets. Today there was even hail. We see lots of snow on the mountains now. The air is moist too and it’s very hard to dry your washing. I’ve had clothes on the line for 3 days and they’re still damp. We had to go and buy a clothes drier yesterday which was extra fun as I’d forgotten to look up the word for it and did not have my dictionary with me (for anyone who may find themselves in an Italian appliance shop in the future, it’s “la asciugatrice”). We managed in the end though, as we always do.

Our driveway....WET!!

You can just see the snow starting on the mountains

The trees lining the road to Bagnone - what kind are they?

My new winter jacket.....it's purple!!

At the end of the third day of school, I am pleased to report that all is going well with the boys.  Denver has had some challenges at times and tells whoever will listen that he wants to go back to Australia, but if you know Denver at all you will realize that it’s mostly talk and he loves the drama.  Balin is Mr Popularity and is adored especially by the girls in his class. He is fitting in very well by all reports and is picking up the language rapidly. He does find the maths lessons difficult though, even if he is especially gifted in that department. They seem to be so much more advanced with their curriculum and the sums he is doing look more like grade 5 or 6 standard.  The Amazonian-looking headmistress (she has a name: Lucia Baracchini) invited us to her office for a “chat” yesterday. It’s never good to be summoned to the Principal’s office, but Lucia is such a helpful and kind woman! She had visited the boys at school already and saw that Denver was a bit lost, although very happy to have an English girl (Beth) as his helper.  She called the school while we were there and we got to talk to the boys.  They both seemed fine, but we thought we might pick them up early anyway just for that day as it was a very long one (they’d caught the school bus at 7:10am and normally wouldn’t have gotten home until 4:45pm).

The boys catching the bus...here it comes!

Lucia was also very concerned about our Permesso di Soggiorno and thought we should be actioning it sooner rather than later.  She had made calls to the Patronato as well as to the Questura and arranged for us to have the paperwork done. In Italy, you need to have friends…….that is to say it’s highly desirable to know someone or have a cousin (however distant) in an office of some influence.  I think Lucia knows everyone in the Lunigiana area.  She also wanted to ask us if we’d mind spending some time with her niece (Alice, pronounced “Ah-lee-chay”) who is studying English at University.  It’s a win/win really as she can translate for us.

We met up with Alice this morning in Villafranca at her mother’s shop. Melanie (or Steve), if you’re reading this, Alice is the Italian Melanie. She looks just like Mel, has a similar personality and is about the same age.  We meant to take a picture (and we still will) so you can see what we mean.  Her English is OK and we seem to spend equal amounts of time speaking Italian as we do English with her.  Many times she did not know the English words, so we told her to speak Italian and we understood her better!  She’s lovely though, and came with us first of all to the Patronato.  The Patronato office is on the main piazza tucked in just beside a Bar (a bar is more like a cafe in Australia).  We entered the building which smelled of damp and resembled a 1960s school building and climbed some wet(!) stairs up 2 levels to the dingy little office.  A bored looking older man directed us to the cramped waiting area where we sat until the clerk was free.  The damp smell was not obvious in this office as it had been replaced with the reek of cigarette smoke.  Finally the clerk was free and we filed in to a small office dominated by piles of papers and the clerk who resembled our good friend Steven Bliss. The Italian Steven Bliss and the Italian Melanie spoke in Italian while we answered questions and sat mostly talking amongst ourselves throughout the painstakingly slow process of compiling our papers.  ISB was nice enough, but soooo slooooow in everything he did.  After almost 2 hours in the stifling smoke-filled office (and yes, he even lit up a cigarette while he was doing our forms!!) he had the papers prepared and we were then told to go to the Post Office.

Is there anything an Italian Post Office DOESN’T do?  Again, we waited for our turn at the counter.  The Post Office lady was a bit of a bitch actually. She took her sweet time (while we waited right in front of her) cleaning up and arranging her desk before reluctantly taking our forms and processing them.  She mocked us when we spoke Italian and kept correcting our pronunciation.  We spoke English to each other and to Alice when we needed help and she kept telling us to only speak Italian. (Yeah, alright luv, let’s hear YOUR English then!). I think she thought she was funny, but by the end of it we both felt like hurting her. Badly.  Eventually it was all done and paid for and we were issued with an appointment to see the Questura in Massa in a couple of weeks time. It’s annoying that we still have to drive to Massa, but Alice kindly offered to come with us and help out.  So the quest for the mythical Permesso di Soggiorno continues…..I’ll let you know when it’s done and tally up the total hours it took to obtain it (hours of our lives that we’ll never get back!)

On the way back,  Alice introduced us to the proprietor of a local restaurant and we had lunch there.   I would consider this to be our first real Italian restaurant experience and we let them choose an authentic dish that was unique to their area. We ended up having “testarolo” which is a bit like flat chewy squares of pasta with a pesto sauce.  It was pretty delicious and VERY filling.  Here’s a pic:

Testarolo....mmmmmm

One last thing: I’d just like to say that Chris is doing an awesome job at adapting to this life. He’s learning to be an excellent fire builder and can make a roaring fire quite successfully most nights.  His driving skills are impressive (besides the little retaining wall incident) and he’s used to driving on the right-hand side now. His Italian is also coming along very well.  He’s very enthusiastic with speaking and can understand more and more every day. I’m still much better at it than him (well I AM!), but I’m confident he’ll equal me one day soon 🙂  We make a good team.  Ti amo mio marito xxx

Mio tesoro!

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About missrini

Global citizen. Travel blogger. Eccentric dreamer.
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9 Responses to More bureaucracy….

  1. Steve says:

    My Melanie would certainly have gotten the Italian Steven off his fat ass! Looking forward to viewing the photos.

  2. KendallHartzenberg says:

    I am enjoying your blog SOOOOOO MUCH! I feel like I am (almost, but not quite) there with you. I am trying to imagine the smell of the place in the rain. It must be divine! You asked, a couple of posts ago, what we would like to see and hear about. You must have read my mind. I’d love to hear (and see piccies of) the food. I am interested to see whether your home cooking changes and evolves to become more Italian the longer you stay there. Are the ingredients you would usually buy on your grocery shopping trips in Australia readily available or is it all different? Thank you for sharing your Testarolo lunch with me! The delicious simplicity of pasta with pesto is inspiring.

    Love Kendall xx

    • missrini says:

      Hi Kendall, thanks and I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog 🙂 I also enjoy writing it! The food here is interesting as everything is of such good quality and quite inexpensive (for example, 1kg of flour is 29c). There are things you cannot buy here though like dark brown sugar and molasses. I have been cooking some of my usual dishes, but adding some italian elements to them as well as trying out some Italian recipes (there are lots of good Italian cookbooks here at the house). I will be sure to post more food pics! x

  3. Melinda says:

    Love the purple jacket! xx

  4. Deanne says:

    Bahaha, Chris and his retaining walls! Never let him near one again 🙂 Purple jacket is great (echoing Melinda’s sentiment above, which I knew she would love!). More pics of the food please. Denver being a drama queen does not surprise me at all – he’ll be saying he doesn’t want to leave Italy next 🙂
    I wonder what other Italian doppelgangers you’ll run into!
    xxx

  5. Sheila says:

    Hi
    I’ve just discovered your blog and wanted to say hello and welcome to Italy. We are a semi-retired British couple and have a house at Malgrate, the little village with the castle that you can see on the left if you are driving to Bagnone from Villafranca. We split out time between England and Italy so are not always around, but when the weather is warmer, you must pop over for tea or a beer on our terrace.

    I have two blogs that may interest you. Italytutto.com is basically a list of all the English-speaking bloggers in Italy. There are several Australians listed. You will also find a twitter list on the site of all these bloggers that will give you a quick start to following the chat if you are interested. It is a good community. My new blog is CiaoLunigiana.com. I’ll add you to my lists of bloggers on both sites if that is OK.

    Hope to meet you sometime, and in the meantime hope settling in goes well. We know the area well, so do shout if there is anything we can do to help.

    Ciao
    Sheila

    PS: Love all your photos!

    • missrini says:

      Hi Sheila. Thanks so much! I know EXACTLY where your village is and we’ve been meaning to pop up there and take some photos soon. I have gone to look at your ciaolunigiana blog and it’s a wealth of information, my husband will appreciate your description of Lunigiana as he keeps getting confused about it. I would be most happy if you add me to your blog list. Let me know when you’re “in town” and we’ll get together 🙂
      Ci vediamo!
      Rini

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