Sunday, February 03, 2008

Apparently its Carnevale in Italy

Well this weekend has been a nightmare for poor Nicola. Never mind the fading future of Italys young, well wer'e not so young but..... This weekend Nicola hired a car ( a brand new Nissan micra) because he has just changed jobs and is waiting for his new company car. So we went grocery shopping and on the way home it stopped dead 500 metres from home late last night in the rain. We phoned the car-hire people no answer. It was 6,45 on a Sat but no answer. So we called the assisstance and after much stress and explaining, they decided to come while we lugged all our precious things out of a unlockable car we had pushed into the station parking.
We left the groceries (too heavy) in the boot.
When they finally called me back and Nicola was running back to meet them, they said they couldn't wait as they had another call out ( more money no doubt) and were leaving. I lost it! and shouted "stay there my husband is running to you", in my worst Italian. They changed the battery and he drove home and parked in our normal street parking outside the house.
All was well.
Well Sunday started ok after all the stress, and after lunch carnevale started with noise, banging drums, brats, and paper and confetti eveywhere, the big floats were coming down our street so I called Nicola to look out of the window at all the floats and costumes coming down the street. He looked out smiling and then I saw him staring and frozen with a look of horror, I though someone had been flatened.
Wheres my car he shouted! my car! the've taken my car! he ran down stairs and looked at an empty street full of confetti. We couldn't beleive our eyes! no car. The realisation that they had towed the bloody hire car so that the processions could come down the street, hit home.
There was no notice as there normally is when there something in our street. It was Sunday pm everything was closed and he needed to get to his new job in the morning.!!!
So I tell him to run after the vigili driving down the street and ask for his car. They have towed it and he has to take all his documents to the police station and there they give him a fine. He goes to the ATM for money "out of order". By now the poor man is foaming at the mouth.There is no response from the place 10 kms away that has the car.
Eventually he gets through to someone who says he must first speak to the police. So he goes back and they want proof that he owns the car, so he has to come back running home to get the documentation for the car. !!!!!So I give him all the money I have on me, and he goes to beg our friend Silvano who lives nearby to drive him to this place. Where he has to pay 100 Euro for the towing, PLUS the fine from the vigili. Bloody hell!. He came home a destroyed man. The path is crowded and the way is narrow and many are those who fall to their death here. We hope tomorrow will be better. we are too tired to care actually.


AmyEmilia said...

This happened to me as well, in 2003 when I was visiting Alessandria (and Italy) for the very first time. We parked in the piazza across from my mother-in-law's apartment, just as we had done a few times before. But little did we know, it was Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning was Market Day. Of course we parked about 3 spaces inside the forbidden zone but we weren't paying attention at all. So in the morning, there is NO CAR. NO CAR at all. Just masses of people and trailers and booths. My husband was speechless. We trundled off to where the police station USED to be when he was a child - then were directed back across town to the other police station. Since I was the official renter and driver, I had to be the one to deal with the car. And he said I had a better chance with them as an American tourist than he did as a pissed off former citizen. So he tried to teach me some of what I needed to say, but it was useless. My traumatized brain remembered niente. So I walked into the police station alone (he said he would be arrested if he tried, he was so angry) and found the right place to ask. All I could do was hold up my rental car keys and say "machina, GONE!" with mournful emphasis. The guy behind the desk realized he needed help. Two women from somewhere else in the station began to try and explain things. Then another customer came and helped. Finally, an off-duty policeman who spoke some limited English chimed in. We managed between us to establish that the car was indeed towed. And there was a fine - 100 euros I think. But after some discussion among my team of helpers, they apparently agreed to waive the fine. But although they did call and ask the towing place, they couldn't get the towing fee waived. I think it was 65 euros. To me this was totally fair and I agreed and thanked them. Now of course I have the problem that I need to get to the car, and have NO IDEA how to follow directions. My husband is still wisely staying out of sight and I get the feeling that I'm better off without him at this point. The off-duty policeman volunteers to take me to the towing place and unbelievable as it sounds, I hopped right in the car with him. Something I probably wouldn't do in the US! I asked him if there was an ATM since I didn't have the cash, and of course the first ATM we stopped at wasn't working. So in his police car we drive the wrong way up a one-way street, blocking the doorway to the bank - and he waits for me while I go in and get incredibly hosed on the exchange rate but come out with enough cash. Then we are off to the towing yard where there is much smiling and cheerful buongiorno-ing as I pay my towing fee (reduced to 50 euros!). And we have to have a few espressos together with the staff while the lowest guy on the totem pole goes to extract the car. Then my policeman kindly leads me out of the mess, offers to buy me lunch (which I politely decline) and in only three hours that adventure is complete. My poor husband is very happy to see me when I pull up in the piazza. And I will never park again without reading the signs!

Italy expat said...

Yeah the police in Alessandria are much nicer. Ther'e nicer if your'e a woman and your foriegn, especially if you resort to tears which I have before in desperation when collecting passports.

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Hidden Italy, the places we visit regularly from Tuscany to the lake district above Como.

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I had visited many times as a visitor myself, and been enchanted.
This site is rather designed to show the hidden Italy, the real Italy experienced by it's residents.
The events of the year, from registering as a resident, to celebrating Christmas, Easter and many other festivals, buying a house, working, banking, and still enjoying its beauty, are to be found here.

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My favourite writings on Italy

  • Italian Education/Cara Massimina Tim Parks
  • Where angles fear to tread E.M. Forster ISBN0140180885
  • A small place in Italy ISBN0330338188
  • D.H.Lawrence and Italy ISBN 0140095209
  • The Italians by Luigi Barzini Touchstone books ISBN 068482500