Interview with Carole B. on Lake Como
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City? Northern Lake Como, Bassa Valtellina. Provincia di Sondrio
Date of Interview? Aug. 6 2005
Let us know a little about yourself?
Widow, pensioner (64yo - almost). One son still living in England.
Why did you decide to move to Italy?
I met a Milanese guy in the mid 60's, I moved to Italy, we married and had one son. We moved back to England in mid 70's following death of my mother. Husband taken very ill, died 1985, I had to continue working, but kept promise to husband to return to live in N.Italy when I retired.
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here?
Having been married in Italy to an Italian and having lived here for sometime previously I had no need of dealing of the type others may have. Or if I did have to deal with the authorities there really wasn't too much difficulty.
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them?
Translation for 'Trapasso' of my car from British to Italian registration. ACI offered to 'do it all' (Except translations) for as little as 450 euro (their words). I did it all myself and it cost a grand total of 293 euro - including 12 months car tax at 191 euro. Had a problem with the taxable size of the car, as they insist (it's an english term, so it really sounds good...) on grading cars in kilowatts... I did say that I drove an Opel NOT a washing machine and I nearly got chucked out, I'm only a woman - what would I know? Permesso di soggiorno, residence permission (I'm on my third of those), dealings with ASL in Milan and Province of Lecco have all been OK. Plus dealings with my new local council and Mayor have been a dream! Perhaps because I'm pretty fluent in their language and can, if the need arises have a good old cuss in the Milanese dialect. I guess I'm just lucky, I know my way around reasonably well, and as the saying goes - "been there, done that, and got the T shirt.
How long have you been here?
This time (and it's the last time) since March 2004. One month house hunting, 10weeks in hospitals following heart attack. Seven months in temporary residence with my niece and her family in Milan. Four months renting a small apartment near N. Lake Como to enable me to keep an eye on the building team working on my house, and finally the move into my 'restructured farmhouse' four months ago. Total: 17 (fun packed-?) months!
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
On a personal level adjusting my daily routines and lifestyle following my heart attack two days after I had contracted to buy my house and the night before I was due to travel back to the UK to sell up and move here. Apart from that very few adjustment problems. Perhaps because of previous period living here....
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap ?
Nothing really - I knew this time what I was getting into
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over?
THE SECRETS ARE TWO. That the Italian national sport is NOT football, but telling a a person or a customer what they want to hear , having no intention of keeping their word. I learned this way back in the 60's, and it's not changed one iota. "Anything for a quiet life"..... Oh and the other thing is that firms, Govt agencies, hospitals and the like do NOT like answering the phone - they'll happily let it ring until their system cuts you off, usually having kept you on the line by telling you not to hang up as they are busy but will be with you soon! (I wish). On one call to a main Milan hospital I held on - listening to recordings every 30secs - for FORTY TWO MINUTES....and at 12.59pm (surprise, surprise) I got gut off. You just have to learn to live with their inefficiency and lack of professionalism/interest.
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
Biggest disappointment was the completion of the restructuring of the house. The 'geometra' and the builders said it should be completed by Septemeber. The problem was I didn't ask WHICH September. Over here they have no qualms about taking on a raft of work then pulling their teams off one job for weeks at a time to go elsewhere. I found the way to get them back to work was to have a good few very strong words with the geometra. I have learned though that I should have fixed an agreement with default clauses and fines if they didn't meet deadlines. (But unfortunately my health at that time meant I didn't even think about it. A good lesson though for anyone else going down that road.
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
I don't know if it's being here, or having survived a heart attack, but I'm much more laid back, and think out any argument I have to make with Italians, companies, agencies etc. BEFORE I start dealing with them. I'm not sure it makes a lot of difference to the outcome, but I like to think so. A good example of this system failing is the fact that despite Telecom Italia fitting my new phone in almost record time, I still can't get any 'phone directories. One operator even suggested that if I wanted a number then I could go to the nearest public telephone office..... come to that they didn't give me a 'phone either!
Do you think that you will stay forever?
Yes, without a doubt. I love it here, I love the people (well most of them), I love where I live, I can sit in my garden under the fruit trees, or on the terrace and look right across to the mountains that lead up to Switzerland (only 23 miles away) and St. Moritz (just 48 miles), and to the left of the house I can see right up the Valtellina. Haven't got a lake view though - far too expensive. Only a village road separates my house from a huge mountain (2960mt) and theres a small (very small) waterfall behind my house which feeds a stream at the side. Why should I ever want to leave all this? NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!
Can you think of any other questions that should be added to this questionnaire?
Perhaps 'How have you found relations with the locals'? Have they been easy or difficult?
Can you think of anything that you would like seen added to this site?
No, it's really comprehensive as it is.
I should be interested to know how these questionnaires are used, and if others would have the opportunity of seeking help/advice/guidance from people like me?