I've been in Italy almost a week and I'm happy to report that things are going really well here. I haven't done a whole lot yet because I've been so busy with work. I got off the plane at 1:30p and was in the office by 2:00. We've been scrambling to get a product ready for a trade show in Barcelona next week and I think we're finally good to go.
So ! What's it like living in Italy ? Twelve shades of different, I suppose. The whole idea didn't really sink in until I was on the airplane and seeing the city lights of Boston fade behind me. "Goodbye America, see you and the English language in a couple months."
The house I'm staying in is really fantastic. The company rented a little one bedroom place on top of a hill on the west side of town. From my front patio I have a great view of Scandicci and the mountains, and more closely I'm surrounded by olive trees and grape vines. The house is so very Italian-village, rustic, peaceful. I finally made it to the grocery store to pick up some food, cleaning supplies, and miscellaneous things to made home a little more like home. The popular grocery store over here is called the Ipercoop, which is very similar to the American Wal-Mart. I have to admit I'm slightly disappointed that it exists, but then the convenience is very welcome.
My house has everything I need for basic living. A stove, toaster oven, dishwasher, heat, fireplace, bidet, and a washing machine--but no dryer. It seems dryers are very uncommon in Italy (and the ones that do exist are more like dehumidifiers). Washing clothes is an extended process. I put some undergarments in the tiny washing machine this afternoon and it ran for about 3 hours. For the lack of a better drying method, I put my damp clothes on the radiator to dry, which promptly turned the house into a sauna. Oh well, I wonder if they have laundromats in these parts.
Driving is a real hoot over here. I have use of a Fiat Punto, a little diesel manual transmission car that always smells a little like an electrical fire. I'm surprised how quickly driving became old-hat for me, considering how many things are different from what I know. Many of the roads are only one lane, but two-direction. That means when you come upon another car, one of you has to pull off to the side to let the other car get by. You share the road with motorcyclists and Vespa scooters, but they don't share the road with you. Traffic lights aren't as common as "roundabouts," where you drive around in a circle instead of plowing straight through an intersection. And my favorite snarky bit is that stop signs actually say "STOP" on them, instead of the Italian equivalent word "ALT."
I'm still using my regular phone around here. If you call I can talk for a few minutes, but it's a long ways from being cheap (the company is reimbursing me for a reasonable amount of phone charges though I'm trying not to stretch the word "reasonable"). If you do call, please remember that I'm seven hours ahead of you, so when you're getting off work, it's midnight for me.
Pictures will follow soon. Thanks for stopping by, you know I miss all of you (except you-know-who).