Instruction for Italian Adventure

sorrentoSorrento, 1999
paradise found post-jet-lag and pre-food-poisoning

Last night I was reminded of the “adventure” of traveling when we got stuck on the train home for 2.5 hours (usually only takes 50 minutes). It was significantly less hilarious than an email I recently received from the company that is renting us our Atrani villa. The email contained a .pdf of quintessentially Italian “instructions” that I will quote for your reading pleasure. The interjections and bold are mine for emphasis.

Directions are typically vague and reliant on statuary:

“The bus to Amalfi stops right outside the train station, by the platform that is between the station and the monument that you will find in front of you.”

As well as containing complex sentences in Italian that will almost certainly elude me when I need them:

“Per piacere, può farci scendere a Villa Rosa?” (Please, can you let us get off at Villa Rosa?).

Presuming of course, we make it to the apartment, there will be insects to deal with:

Bug screen: do not be surprised if you find none! That’s the rule in Italy. We do not use bug screens. Rather, we burn pesticide pellets on small electric burners that plug into the wall. [Whaaa? What is this magical contraption?!] They are inexpensive and can be bought at supermarkets. When you do find bug screens, please don’t be upset if they are not in the best condition. They are so easily broken that even the most scrupulous property owner/manager has a hard time keeping up with bug-screen maintenance, particularly in remote locations where the wealthy Italian repairmen don’t bother travelling to for just a minor job. [Note to self: When running away to Italy—become a screen repairman.]

And exploding stoves:

Be careful: your cooker might have a glass cover; never lower the glass cover on the cooker while a burner is on; the cover will explode into pieces, which might be dangerous if someone is around. [Re: “might”, see last paragraph.]

Uncomfortable beds [unless you’re German]:

You are likely to find Italian beds rather hard, unless you are from Germany, and in that case you will find them rather soft.

And unhinged landlords:

Incidentally, we do recommend home owners leave at least the staples previous guests have bought and not consumed during their stay, throwing away only what they deem not to be reusable. Most of them do so until they are scolded by the newly-arrived, who complain about the house not being clean because there are “leftovers”. From that point onward, you can be sure that the owners will throw everything away, in their best attempt to please. At times we have seen the same guest complaining about “leftovers” and, upon return home, about the fact that the home did not have any staples. Psychiatric cures for home owners are not covered by the Italian public health services, so we kindly ask you to only choose one of the two to complain about.

But it won’t matter, because it’s all one big adventure:

Safety: in general, Italians are not as concerned about safety as other cultures are. Swimming pools have no safety measures, and that’s the rule (if there is a private pool at your property and your are concerned about safety, it might be a wise idea to bring with you an inexpensive portable pool alarm). You will find electric outlets in places where you would have never put them (especially in the bathrooms). There are no fire extinguishers whatsoever, and sometimes even stairways have little or no railings at all. You just have to keep your eyes open, and live your vacation with some sense of adventure – just as we live our lives every day.