We couldn’t help feel that we really were starting something new (again); even more so with our moving date coinciding with New Year’s Eve. We spent the run-up to New Year preparing for our 5am set-off for our long road trip.
Again I found myself trying to fit all of our possessions in to the Golf, finding unlikely nooks and crannies that even the most intimate of mechanics wouldn’t know it had, stashing away various things, including, it turns out, poor Luca. This time of course I had Fleur and Luca as my co-pilots.
With driving seat in its forward-most and negatively inverted position, my head pushed hard against the ceiling of the car, leaving a permanent dent in the ceiling, we finally hit the road. Coat hangers swinging from seatbelts, and a mixing bowl balanced upside down on the headrest; as we fought the corners of the winding mountain roads and looming weight of the onboard luggage, the mixing bowl eventually dislodged itself and jostled its way on to my head becoming a makeshift drivers helmet. Fleur and Luca were not much better off; in fact we couldn’t even see Luca in the back. He was so well behaved for the entire 9-hour journey he hardly made a sound at all; if Fleur didn’t pass the occasional biscuit to him through a handy gap in the general direction of where we thought he ought to be, we might easily have assumed we had left him behind. There were a couple of hairy moments where my maverick packing style started to show cracks, and Luca had a picture frame fall and miss his head by mere inches. If it wasn’t for all the other bits and pieces piled on top of him (shoes, cheese grater, radio, wash bag) it could have been an unplanned trip to the hospital. Fortunately, no ambulance required this time (we were to have our first, and hopefully last, family trip in an Italian ambulance only a couple of days later. We’ll save this for a later post). In case you’re wondering, no, we don’t expect any ‘good parenting’ awards this year.
We arrived, travel-weary and a little bent out of shape but in remarkably high spirits at 7pm outside our apartment,
waiting for our estate agent to give us the keys to a flat that we had not yet seen for ourselves. We had chosen the flat with the help of my new colleague who kindly viewed apartments for us while we were in Sauze; we had nothing to go on except her opinion and a few photos. We were incredibly anxious, knowing that whether we like it or not, this place is ours for the foreseeable future. While we were waiting, we were surrounded by the sound of mini explosions triggering car alarms and yelps from excitable Italians who were celebrating the New Year with firecrackers and bangers. In England, as a nation, we spend a fortune on alcohol to get us over the hump of the New Year. In Italy, it seems money is invested in gunpowder instead. As we stood there, patience by now starting to wear thin, I couldn’t help but wonder which is the biggest waste of money and general public nuisance (OK… I was starting to feel irritable at this point). They were all at it; young and old. Like their shiny blue puffer jackets it seemed to appeal to all generations, gender and background.
|This is not our car. Or our apartment. |
It is the only photo we have of
Rome at the moment.
Maybe we’d been in the mountains too long. We weren’t used to the noise and hustle and bustle of the city. Cars fearlessly parked diagonally across pedestrian crossings, in the middle of the road, boxing in other cars, ‘fragrant’ pavements, and incomprehensible slang graffiti anywhere that would have it. Rather than despite the chaos and perhaps even because of it, it was fantastic to be here and in all honesty we could not be more excited.
Almost immediately we were drawing useless comparisons between where we had come from and to where we had arrived; For example, in the mountains we would get our water from the various fresh water fountains in the village, but here we were less-enticed by the Roman equivalent (more pumps than fountains of course). While I am sure it is the same water that runs in to our water mains and is perfectly safe to drink, for me it is the way our closest one has been creatively enhanced by a local ‘artist’ which puts me off. I am not sure it is anatomically accurate, but the impression is very powerful nonetheless. I’m sure we will all be drinking from it gung-ho once the infamous heat of Rome kicks in later in the year. We’ll be sure to take photos for your amusement.
So eventually our estate agent arrived, coughing and spluttering with flu and cigarette breath, to introduce us to our new home. I don’t think I have ever seen Fleur so nervous, and in truth I was too. Even Luca looked worried. We entered the stairwell, which left a lot to be desired. The smell, not quite repulsive, but certainly not entirely welcoming, was not a good first impression. All 4 of us clambered in to the 2-person lift, each having to face different directions, not only to fit in but also to escape the poisonous coughs of our agent. After holding our breath (half in anticipation, half out of concerns for our health) we eventually fell out of the elevator, gasping for air at our doorstep. This was it. Faffing around with all the keys, and by now 2012 looming ever more, our anticipation only heightened. Several attempts where we thought she finally had the right key, only to feel the crashing anti-climax of her getting the wrong key again and starting the 12 key checking process all over again, we started to wonder if she had the right keys at all.
Click. Brava! Finally, she got it. Now for the other lock…
This time she was on a roll. Click. We were in. The heavy door obligingly, but not hurriedly, revealed our new home to us. This is our new home.