It has been said to me on more than one occasion that it takes about 7 years for an ex-pat, living in Italy, to come to terms with Italy or move away.
I have been here 6.
I have one more year to go.
And then I could be leaving.
Although, after the last two days, I won’t need the next 6 months or so.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Italy. I also hate it. It’s not the country, as such, nor the people (well, except for a few – as anywhere else in the world). No, it’s the crazy bureaucracy and ‘job’s worth’ mentality.
Just over a year ago I bought a car. I bought it from a garage that sold second-hand cars. I realised I was paying over the odds but I got a zero-kilometre car (therefore, almost brand new) for much less cost than a new one. (Although I deeply regret not choosing either a SEAT or a Ford and, instead, lumbering myself with the ugly duckling that is the Fiat Ypsilon).
The advantage, thought I, with buying from a garage is not only the fact that everything will be done properly but I will also have some sort of guarantee – plus (and this is a big plus), they will fix all the paperwork which, because I don’t have an Identity Card, is a nightmare to do yourself.
The car, however, celebrated its fourth birthday (officially) yesterday.
It’s fourth birthday is important because at four years, you are required to take it to have a revisione. A revisione is like the MoT Test in the UK.
I’m not worried it will fail since, although it is four years old, it has only been driven round for less than 18 months, so it should be fine.
Apparently, I could do this revisione at any time during the month of its birth.
I was a little concerned that the tyres would be a bit worn. However, it needed to have the winter tyres put on and they would be fine since they had been used for less than 6 months and very few kilometres. So, I booked to have the tyres change. Unfortunately, that could only be done last Saturday. No problem though as I then had three days to fit in the revisione.
With Pietro’s help, there is a place nearby that does not require an appointment. And there’s not time like doing it now and so, yesterday afternoon, I took time off work to go and do this thing.
I have a theory about Italy. When you have to do something that requires official paperwork, you will have to visit an office more than once and normally three times.
I go to this place. I give the receptionist my logbook. There is a problem, apparently. It seems that the ‘use’ for the vehicle was not a normal private car. They cannot do the revisione until the ‘use’ has been changed on the logbook. Hmmmm.
Pietro is called. No problem – he finds me the nearest ACI (Automobile Club of Italy) office, where things like this are done with a wave of the wand.
Unfortunately, this office had lost their wand.
They could do it but I wouldn’t get the logbook corrected for about 2 weeks. And it will cost me €70! But, please note, it COULD be done – it was just a matter of time. I can’t wait, of course. The car will be ‘illegal’ by Thursday morning. It seems the only way to do this was to go to the equivalent of the DVLA. They might be able to issue the corrected logbook immediately. The woman seems fairly certain they could.
So, that’s the end of Day 1 in the saga. there is nothing to do but go home and, rather than go to work, go off to the west side of Milan, in the outskirts (the opposite side of town from my house), and get this thing done.
My plan then was that, armed with the new logbook (which would surely take no more than an hour and a half), I would go straight to the revisione centre and do that. Then to work.
As you may know, I’m always looking for the positives. In this case, the positive was that I would get up three quarters of an hour later than usual – 6.15 instead of 5.45!
I was a bit later than I had wanted to be this morning since Rufus had sprayed shit around the flat overnight. Poor thing. I’m wondering if the operation tomorrow morning is really worth it?
Anyway, I use the metro. Better than trying to take the car across Milan. I’ve never actually travelled at rush hour in Milan. It’s a nightmare. The platform was about 5 people deep. I ‘missed’ two trains until I could fit into one.
I get off and find my way to the DVLA place. I’m not sure where to go but take a guess. It seems right. I wait in a queue for the desk labelled ‘Information’. She has a coat and scarf. We are inside. I check other people in their office. some are wearing coats and most are not. No one is dressed as if they are outside (which is cold), except her. I show her the documents.
Apparently it can’t be done. Either the garage that sold me the car has the required notification or I need to do a statement at a police station (yes, I know – but here nearly everything requires a statement from a police station) to say that the notification of change of use had been lost and then I could come back there for a new/updated logbook.
I speak to Pietro. Pietro seems to think I should speak to the garage. I’m thinking it will be easier (and quicker) to get do a statement at a police station. I know that Pietro is probably right but, still ……..
Pietro calls the garage for me. He says they are checking. In the meantime I ask someone if there is a police station nearby. I walk to the police station.
It is very cold out here, far from the centre of Milan. I think, again, that I could never live somewhere like this. 15-story apartment blocks – the place has no ‘soul’. No restaurants, no bars, no shops to speak of. It’s like living in a town with nothing around. So, like living in the country but without the countryside. I’m sure I would die here. Or, at least, my soul would. I think that if I had to come here, I would seriously consider relocating back to the UK.
I find a bench. There are several benches arranged around a sort of pedestrian piazza. But it is soulless in that there is nothing there, in the centre. The benches are wet with melted frost. I go to the one that has been in the sun the longest. It is drier that the others although not completely dry. I sit anyway, my coat protecting me from the worst of the water. I wait for Pietro’s call. I see my phone has not much battery left. Typical!
An old man walks into the ‘piazza’. He carries a small plastic carrier bag with something in. He checks some of the benches and tries the water with his finger as if he doesn’t really believe it’s water. Maybe he things it is just shiny? He now knows that it is water. He looks at another bench and sees it’s the same. He ambles away. This would be worse, I think. To be retired in a place like this. To be in a soulless place while your life ebbs away. Dreadful.
Don’t get me wrong, it has lots of trees and space. But there aren’t that many people, certainly not walking around. The buildings are uniformly hideously boring. There is no prettiness in this place, in spite of the trees and the space. This is a place for sleeping. For hibernation. So depressing.
Pietro calls. Apparently, the garage are going to get me an updated logbook by tomorrow, if I go to them with this one. Oh well, on the bright side, I won’t have to pay €70 (I can’t bring myself to say ‘save’ since, two days ago, this wasn’t in the budget in the first place!).
I go back to the metro station and get on a train.
As I walk from my metro station home, I pass the Tuesday market. I decide that I will get a new ironing board cover. Also, there is a place selling Christmas trees. I get one. It costs €25. It’s probably going to be slightly too big but it will be OK. I’m hoping that it’ll be a nice surprise for F.
I go back to the flat and give my cleaning lady the new ironing board cover. It won’t fit – but I’ll make it fit, I just don’t have the time right now.
I put the tree on the balcony.
I go to the garage. This is far to the north of Milan. I know the way, more or less. I hope I will get there before 12 noon. I am worried they will close and then what shall I do? Already I’m taking more time off work than I would like.
There are some major road works which closes off the road I know. I am sent on a detour and, as usual, the detour signs stop suddenly. I pick a road. Eventually, I end up on the right road, more or less and get to the garage at a quarter to twelve.
I go in.
The woman takes the logbook and gets me to sign something. I don’t know what it was and don’t really care. She faxes off the logbook to their ‘agency’ that deals with registrations of cars, etc.
After about 5 minutes, the woman from the agency phones. Yes, we are fully aware that there has to be a revisione done by tomorrow night. That’s why I’m here and that’s why we need an authority for me to drive without the logbook and why we need the logbook back tomorrow – so I can do the revisione.
Eventually, the permission comes through the email and the woman prints a copy for me.
Tommorrow, at 3.30, I go to the garage again to get the new logbook, then race back to the revisione centre to have the revisione done. There had better be no problems!
If only I could believe that, after traipsing here and there across Milan and outside of it, there would be no problems, I would be happy and relaxed. I don’t so I’m not.
I have used the words ‘fucking’, ‘bastard’, ‘bloody’ and ‘Italy’ in the same sentence many times today. At least to myself.
I may update and change this post tomorrow. Running out of time. Sorry.