Sunday, May 07, 2006


I cannot begin to tell you about the trouble we have with water here; well, I will begin, but I'm not sure you'll believe me! Yes, we are in the twenty-first century, in a modern city in a technologically brilliant country in western Europe; but the water, in some areas, is still not supplied via the pipes! [Friends say this is because of the enormous amount of development that has taken place in this district in recent years.] It seems you either have a well, a tank on the roof or are dependent on the comune's water lorries!

The large cistern below this condominio is filled up by the water-lorry-man about every two weeks, but the supply sometimes runs out after nine or ten days - and I can guarantee it will dry up if I am entertaining! When this happens the capo-condominio - the tenant who deals with such administrative matters - has to call the comune to request a refill.

To be fair, they usually come quite quickly, even sometimes arriving as late as ten o'clock at night. You can hear the heavy lorry reversing up the road and Simi barks and gets really excited as she knows we will go outside! - I am usually the only one in when the lorry comes and she insists on accompanying me when I go down to open the barrier across the condominio parking space and sign for the water.

The only time we were without water for more than a day was during the summer, around the Ferragosto holiday [15th August] and I really was getting desperate then! Although I had a couple of bidoni [large containers which you fill with water for such emergencies] they soon ran out and I was ready to go back to the UK! The capo- condominio wasn't here but the rest of us tenants agreed to call a private water supplier and share the cost [ which would have worked out at about 5 euros each] when, at last, the welcome "bleeps" of the "camion" reversing were heard...

It takes about fifteen minutes for the cistern to fill and Simi hates the last five or so when the tank on the lorry is automatically raised to allow the last few drops to trickle in; I'm sure the noise reminds her of when she was hoisted onto the plane in her special little pet carrier!

One of the water-lorry-men has a "Diana" fixation, by the way: when I told him I was from Wales, he grinned and said slowly, "Dee-ann-a", whilst making that repeated, upward, circular movement with his hand - a bit like the Queen waving - that Italians seem to make when they are interested in something. It would have been useless to tell him that the late Princess had very little to do with Wales, as he is convinced that she was from there, that her death was a complotto [conspiracy] and that we all still hate Camilla.

Water also caused me another problem back in March: there had been a storm, and, coming back at about two in the afternoon, I noticed that my kitchen balcony was flooded and that the balcony drain was blocked. Now, I am not very practical, so I did not think where the water would end up once it was released: I just unblocked the drain with a skewer [pretty good for me!] and down it went - then there was a shout! I looked over the balcony but could not see anyone so shrugged my shoulders in a rather Italian way. However, later, a handwritten notice appeared on the main door of the condominio, saying please [I'm not sure if there was a "please", now I come to think of it] would people clean their balconies at other times [fair enough, as it had been siesta time; only I had not been cleaning the balcony and indeed, if I had not seen other women doing so, it would never have occurred to me that you had to!] and would we remember that it wasn't a porcile [pigsty]! Now that got to me: all right, I should have unblocked the drain later and I should have checked to see if there was anyone below, but the implication that I was treating the place like a porcile really shook me! I also felt very embarrassed as of course everyone would have known that the notice was directed at me. [Culture shock: these things upset you more when you are not in your own country, where you know exactly what to do about them.]

Anyway, I knew it was the woman on the ground floor who had written the hasty notice and I decided that such matters are best tackled immediately. So I knocked on their door, apologised and explained why it had happened and all was fine; but it took all the courage I had to ring that doorbell! It was only later when I phoned Linda and her husband Franco that I was persuaded to stop worrying about the incident - again, because it becomes magnified in your mind when you are "a fish out of [your own] water"!

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