Italy is a weird First World country. I am surprised that even up here in the Northern part of the country things still work so much through relations - if you ask me, so Third World.
To illustrate my point, eating at La Brace in Maranello. This restaurant is extremely popular with Ferrari staff. When Hubby eats there (which is often as he lives alone here in the week), he gets served huge portions and receives discounts on his bill. When he turns up to order a pizza to take away, they even try to offer it to him (I say try as he would never let them). So maybe he is somebody in Ferrari, and maybe they are trying to suck up to him for that.
Though I always say Never a Borrower nor a Lender be and if you don't accept favours chances are that you wouldn't have to return them.
And how do they balance their accounts? By ripping off nobodies like me. Madame turned up with her 3 kids one afternoon last week to have lunch at said restaurant. She was served a small plate of mainly fried sotong and a few miserly prawns in what was supposed to be a mixed fried seafood dish. And the total bill turned out to be at least 10 Euros over what she was supposed to pay. And since the bill was incomprehensible and since she couldn't speak Italian yet, she had to let it go.
When mention of above incident was made to the Hubby, he laughed and said that that's Italy for you. Together with the new bosses of the Group, he has been trying to change mentalities and work practices - but to no avail for the moment. Corruption, inertia, confusion, inefficiency and underhand practices are a way of life here. Yucks.
Kudos must be given to Singapore. I think that if somebody gives you a tip, you'd probably think twice before accepting it. And great that vendors who try to rip off tourists have a blacklist into which they may belong. Life is so much more pleasant and sure when we all try to do things only above the board, don't you agree?
Another preoccupation that we have nowadays is the fact that burglaries abound in Italy. There is almost no doubt that you will be burglared at some point in time. The only question is whether it would be done with or without violence.
We are supposed to be comforted by the fact that most burglaries where we are often take place without violence. Apparently you often get tied up and tortured in Milan whereas in Naples you could get killed. Great.
Like everybody else with a house we'll have to buy an alarm and wire it to the Police. Except that with a million households linked to them and with a million burglaries happening at the same time, you can almost be sure that they wouldn't bother to act when they hear yours ring. I was even told by a few Italians that each time they stopped their subscriptions to the alarm companies they would be burglared. I leave you to add 2 and 2 together...One has to live with some fatalism in this land.
Otherwise I've spent 3 days and many many hours in IKEA last week and have finally bought a few thousand Euros' worth of stuff to furnish the new house. I'll still need to return to the shop in July as we'll still lack quite a bit of cupboard etc space, the farmhouse being really quite big and empty. I wish that we could buy furniture elsewhere (e.g. somewhere more chic), but unfortunately between the size of our purse and the burglars IKEA does seem like the best compromise.
It has been raining non-stop for a week now. So much for the reputation for hot weather in Italy.
I'll be back in Stuttgart in 3 days. Hallelujah.