Living in Italy is a switchback of emotions for foreigners, whether you are an expatriate or a second home owner. For us, second home owners, there is the anxiety of the return to our holiday home after the cold, wet winter. Will there be a hole in the roof? How wet and mouldy will the walls be? Will there be mice or rats? Will there have been a burglary? We do pay a contadino to cut the grass and pop in occasionally, but he only contacts us in case of dire emergency. When I rang he said the house was ok, but that could mean anything.
The anxiety is followed by happiness as we round the bend in the white road and see our house waiting for us, with the trees in the garden having come on amazingly thanks to the recent heavy rain. This is swiftly followed by gloom as we open the front door and see the mould and flaky paint on the walls. However, we are soon borne upwards by a rush of relief as we see how clean and tidy our family left the house. There are no leaks in the roof, no evidence of theft. Then back down again when we realise how low the water pressure is.
Into Corinaldo for lunch at I Tigli, one of our favourite restaurants where we have been eating for over 20 years, though we are by no means their oldest customers,
and it’s back up to the top of the switchback as we exchange greetings with the staff, admire the brick vaulted ceiling anew,
and enjoy good traditional Italian cooking and relax over a mezzo (half-litre carafe) of refreshing local white wine.
Our mood lifts yet further when we discover a no doubt highly toxic mould-removing liquid in the local ferramenta (ironmonger). Even better – it works!
But I must go into the comune
and sort out the IMU – local tax. As dwellers in rural Italy will know, you do everything municipal by personal contact. So, filled with the apprehension that is proper in Italy when dealing with officialdom (actually the Corinaldesi officials are helpful), I sit on one of the row of chairs outside the Ufficio Ragioneria (Communal Treasurer’s) and wait for the accountant. When she arrives, I explain that I want to mettermi in regola (sort myself out) with regard to IMU. I show her the visura catastale (copy of Land Registry entry) obtained last summer from the Agenzia Entrate in Ancona, so that knowledge of our house cannot be denied. She tells me that she has no record of my payment, and that is odd, because her records also show that I paid the ICI (old-style local tax) regularly. I agree and say that I tried to pay, but “they” told me they had no information about me. A lot of tut-tutting and muttering about casino (a mess) ensues, followed by the announcement that she will check when she has time. I feel deeply gloomy, as this check may not take place till 2016.
But cheer up! You can pay 2013 anyway. All I have to do is find a commercialista (such is Italian bureaucracy that one needs this professional to deal with it on one’s behalf, especially filling in forms) and get him to fill in Form F24 for me. Deep gloom again – I’ve lived here for over 20 years and still don’t know where to find a commercialista. Spirits rise again – the accountant tells me to go to the Confartigianato. Gloom – I can’t find it. Spirits rise – the nice woman in the Tourist Office (open, thank goodness) tells me where it is. Gloom – I can’t find the front door. Spirits rise –the kind receptionist in the doctor’s surgery on the ground floor tells me it is above them on the first floor and the entrance is round the corner on the right. Spirits rise again when the kind man in the Confartigianato fills in all the forms for me, for a very reasonable charge, and tells me to take them to the bank, pay 2013 now, and ask the bank to pay the 2014 bill on the due date.
Phew! I’m nearly there.
Gloom again when the Bancomat link isn’t working and we can’t get the cash out to pay the tax. We cheer up when we find another Bancomat and get the money out this time.
Next day we go to our bank, where the staff are always helpful, hand in the form and the money for 2013, leave the forms for 2014 and explain that we’ll transfer the money from England when we get back, which we duly did.