Getting on the Road

Today’s email from Kevin was a request for approval to get started on building the access road.

The property sits about a kilometer off Strada Provinciale 129, the road between Colmurano and Urbisaglia. Right now, a rough road that turns into a gravel path as it approaches our property is the connection to the SP129. It’s too steep and rough to get equipment and materials to our site.

From the property to the main road Click image to enlarge
From the property to the main road
Click image to enlarge
Our part of the road? Click image to enlarge
Our part of the road?
Click image to enlarge

So step one in construction is to improve this road. I’m a little unclear how much of this distance needs to be improved, but certainly the last few hundred meters need work. Especially the entrance to our driveway. Right now, it’s a steep, sharp turn. We’re hoping the adjacent farmers will let us reshape it a bit.

Because of the recent earthquakes, there’s a tightening of supply of available contractors, as many are or will be working on earthquake-related projects: inspection, repair, rebuilding.

Kevin said that we could grab a grading contractor if we acted fast. Otherwise, we might face a delay of several weeks. We don’t have a building contract yet, so this would need to be done as a separate deal.

We’ve budgeted 12,000€ for this work. The proposal is for us to sign a contract for the road work and pay 10,000€ this week. Plus 1000€ tax.

Anne and I agreed we should go ahead, so now the project is “on the road.”

Google Earth

The Trip Home

At dinner last night, still trying to avoid a refueling charge from Hertz, I get my 20 changed for smaller bills. Then on the way to the airport, I’ll have another go at the pump.

Flight is at 6. Airport only about 15 minutes away, plus gas up time. Even though I know the airport is small, I figure I should arrive by 4:30 or so. Lufthansa makes you check any bag over 8kg, so I need to check mine. I don’t want some bureaucratic problem to make me miss the flight.

At the pump. I put in a 5. Only will take 1.25€, about a liter’s worth. So I was really close last night, even though the gas gauge didn’t show it.

I take the keys back into the building where I arrived. No one there, so I just put them on the drop box at Hertz.

After about 15 minutes, there’s still no one else in the building. Hmm. I don’t see check in desks, either. So I go exploring.

departures-153136_640Finally I discover another building, a couple of hundred yards away, not connected to the other except by an outside sidewalk. It’s for departures. Two buildings. No signs pointing from one to the other. Only 3 departure listed for the morning, maybe for all day. L’Aeroporto delle Marche.

I start the day with a croissant and espresso. 2.00€.

First stop is Munich. Nice airport, but it’s 7:30 and a two and a half hour layover. Too early for beer for me, even in Germany, but I see a couple of guys who disagree. I opt for scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Total: 8.50€. I love these airport prices.

Frankfurt next. It’s not as nice as Munich and has one very annoying practice. You’re told that your gate is in the Z concourse, but no gate number. Concourse Z is one big duty free mall. I assume they don’t tell you your gate right away so you mill around and buy stuff that’s no cheaper than at home. Now it’s time for that beer.

My flight is supposed to start boarding at 12:20. About 12:15 I check the monitor. Now it’s not just no gate number. No flight to Chicago listed. Did my watch stop?

I spot another United flight from gate Z20. I figure my only option is to go there and try to figure out what happened. On the way, I see a crowd at Z15. Chicago flight. Who knows why it wasn’t listed and how everyone else knew where to go.

Finally, off to home. Across the aisle from me are two women, a middle aged one and I assume her mother. They spend the entire flight mostly yelling at each other in a language I don’t recognize at first, but finally realize is some Italian dialect. I’m hearing capisc’ and be’ and a few standard Italian words.

On this flight, the economy section is packed. No empty seats. But the economy plus section is almost empty. But if you want to move there, it’s $129, but I’d bet some people were booked economy and “upgraded” there. No luck for me.

Once we land, I take advantage of Global Entry to go through passport control quickly. But then the bags take forever to come out.

Finally, about 6 on Halloween night, I arrive at home, about 22 hours after I woke up.

Overall, a good, but scary, trip.

Image source License: CC0 Public domain. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

Prepare for Departure

The day before my return home was spent in Falconara Marittima, the town on the beach just north of Ancona, where the airport is.

Poster advertising chestnut sagraI’d planned to go to a sagra and to visit some furniture and home goods stores, but the big earthquake that morning changed my plans. I didn’t do much besides watch earthquake news on TV and have lunch and dinner.

I ended up having both at the same restaurant, Il Paradiso, about a half-mile walk from the hotel. You go down a steep hill to the beach, across, and then back up the hill. Good place. Lunch was a great spaghetti with clams and mussels, followed by a great lemon chicken scallopini. I was then treated to both a local amaro and a local coffee liqueur by my waiter.

The most fun time to go to a restaurant in Italy is Sunday lunch. Whole families go out together and eat and drink and laugh. It really makes you feel good.

Despite the quality and the hospitality, I didn’t intend to return for dinner, but I had a change of plans. I decided to go out and fill the car with gas, so I wouldn’t have to do it the next morning. Italian gas stations these days seem to be just gas pumps. No people there, no convenience store. :-). First station I stopped at had a sign that the card reader wasn’t working. At the next one, it wouldn’t take my credit card, since while we’ve started using chips in the cards in the US, I didn’t have the PIN number I needed.

pompa di benzinaWhat you do is insert euro notes to a machine, which then sets the pump to deliver the gas. That’s fine in general, but it makes it hard to use when you need to fill up a rental car before returning it. So I try a 20 euro bill. I return to the pump — and it won’t work. I ask a local who happens to be there, but he can’t figure it out either. Finally I try putting the nozzle back and removing it again. Bravo!

But 20 doesn’t fill it up. So I try 5 euro more. Close, but still not full. All I’ve got left is a 20 and I figure the penalty from Hertz will be less than that. So back to the hotel. But by now it’s dark. And even with Google maps, I can’t seem to get back to the hotel. Up the hill. Around. Down. Up.

At one point, I make an almost critical error. I pull over on a downhill to look at the map. Now I see what to do But I got too close to the next car downhill when I stopped. As soon as I put the clutch in to reverse, I go down the hill toward the car. After a couple of attempts and stalls, I figure I’m in a bad way. I’m a foot from the car and can’t back up.

Two choices I see: roll (gently) into the car, probably setting off an alarm, and then try to reverse, or put on the parking brake, rev in reverse, release the brake and hope to go uphill. I don’t like number one, so I try two.

Luckily, it worked, but the smell, from either the clutch or brake burning was really strong.

I was so glad to get to the hotel and out of the car that I decided to return to the restaurant I knew I could walk to. Pizza this time. And a half liter of wine to calm the nerves. Very good.

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Second image Copyright: morenosoppelsa / 123RF Stock Photo

Happy Hour

That’s what it’s called, in Italian. But it’s its own version of our happy hour, a better one, I think.

Sit down at a bar in the pre-dinner hours, say 6-8. Order a drink and they also bring a plate of rather fancy hors d’oeurves, some potato chips, and some peanuts.

Table with happy hour snacks in ItalyOrder another drink and they give you a refill on the food, too. You almost don’t need dinner.

And it’s affordable. My mixed drink of choice, a Negroni, is at least $10, plus tip, in the US. In Italy, with the snacks, it’s 5€, tip included.

You need to be careful before dinner at those prices. Trust me. I know.

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Closing: Short and Sweet

Friday, a little after 6. Everyone present who needs to be.

We had done the oral reading of the documents on Wednesday, so we were here just to pass around money and sign the contracts.

Signing atto to buy property in ItalyThe contracts are in both English and Italian. My translator and my attorney agree that they are the same. The seller, the translator, and I have to sign each page of three copies of the contacts and of the statement that the translation is accurate. As I did in the bank, I have to carefully write out “Edwin Joseph Katzman” each time. Legible, but cursive. Not an easy combination for me.

Just to add some humor to the situation, we also have to sign an energy certificate. This document rates and explains the energy efficiency of the property — in our case, the ruin. (It’s not very efficient. Very drafty.)

To finish up, the notaio signs everything, while having an animated conversation with my lawyer, which I can’t follow. The translator assures me it has nothing to do with my deal. They’re talking about a mutual acquaintance, and not in a positive way.

A few photos, handshakes all around, and we’re done. Anne and I own the land and the pile of stones.

Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure