Friday, 14 October 2011

Mad hatter: “Have some tea.” Alice: “I don’t see any tea.” Mad Hatter: “There isn’t any.” ( “Alice in Wonderland”, Lewis Carroll)

The bank manager is super efficient. He’s wearing trainers, jeans and a sweatshirt, but he is startlingly close shaven and bright eyed. It is 8.45 am Monday morning, the exact time of our appointment, Paulo is already here with his son as counter signatory. On the bank manager’s vast desk lie the morning papers unopened, and the paperwork relating to our new account neatly arranged in front of the computer. I found him a most unusual bank manager.

We warmed up the proceedings by talking weather and the conversation turned to the benefits and workings of our “stufa” (a type of wood burning stove fueled by pellets, a by-product of the furniture industry). The discussion became more and more animated, I could but won’t say that the men warmed to their subject. The reason for our being there seemed forgotten or perhaps had become irrelevant. I sat there in the picture whilst not quite in it , but no-one seemed to mind, everyone was relaxed. We were passing the time and time was passing. At around 9.30 we got around to opening the bank account and received instructions on how to fill in an Italian cheque. By 9.40 we were on the road to the Notaio.

It all happened again at the Notaio’s. Paulo, now with both his sons, confidently strides straight through to the office, bypassing the receptionists who suppress a “Please wait, I’ll see if he’s available”. The Notaio is wearing sunglasses; he went sailing on Sunday and his eyes are sore from sun and sea. The conversation turns to sailing, then to something else, then to something else. Time passes. The Notaio is sharply dressed, with a full head of grey hair and a ‘tache to match. He is important, a representative of the State, and we need to know it. He is also a first cousin to Paulo. He’s mislaid his notes, but he’s not worried, they must be where he left them on our last visit, if only he could remember where. He covers himself with a sense of humour which reveals itself in the twinkling of his eyes, evident even through the sunglasses.

We eventually get down to business - the composing and signing of the “compromesso” (which probably translates as “initial contract”, but which I translate as “compromised”). The Notaio puts his reading glasses on over his sunglasses; he should look ridiculous, but he’s a canny old Italian and he retains his “bella figura”. The signing of the contract and the handing over of the cheque for the deposit takes less than half an hour. Two hours after entering the office Paulo, his sons, Peter and I head off for the nearest bar for non-alcoholic cocktails and a conversation about the benefits or otherwise of driving methane fueled cars. Why not talk about methane gas when you’ve just bought and sold a house?

Meanwhile, work on the house is proceeding, though the local authority has yet to approve the final plans (which we have yet to submit) and the final “Atto” (the second half of the Compromesso sale contract) has yet to be completed.

Sorry, I'm unable to upload any new photos as we're not on wifi as yet and the phone signal is quite weak here.

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