22 May 2011

LIFE: Move On Dot Italy

SARONNO, Italy - New people are moving in on the 5th floor of my apartment building. I can hear the workmen chipping up the marble floors and tapping off the tile in the kitchen and the bathroom.  All must be torn up and redone. It’s part of the complicated process of moving, and one of the reasons why Italians never move if they can help it.
Moving Day
The truck that will haul the rubbish away is now in place down on the street next to the building. I can hear them starting up the motor that runs the pulley system. Any minute now workmen will start lowering the buckets they filled with chipped out tiles and marble down to the truck where other workmen will empty them  and   then send the bucket back up to be filled. It’s going to take a while, it’s a big apartment. 

Once all of the old wall tiles have been taken out of the kitchen and the bathroom, new tiles will be cut to fit and put in place. The bathroom fixtures will be pulled up and tossed out, in anticipation of new “sanitari”, i.e. toilet, tub, sink and bidet.  The walls will be painted, the ceiling and woodwork and doors a different color than the walls. New floors will be installed, new kitchen cabinets and appliances, which, along with the new sanitari, will be connected.  While the plumbers are plumbing, the electricians will install the new lighting fixtures on the ceilings throughout the apartment.
Complicated Equiptment
Apartment hunting really isn’t a fun thing to do here. In fact, it’s kind of spooky. If the apartment is unfurnished you are greeted with empty cavernous rooms with wires hanging down from the ceilings where fixtures used to be, and more wires poking out of holes in the walls where who knows what used to be. The kitchens are even spookier. They are stripped clean of counters and cabinets. Everything is gone, including the kitchen sink, and left in its place are a couple of pipes sticking out from the wall. 

Andrea, who bought an apartment last year, was talking about that the other day. He was saying he’s sorry he didn’t offer the seller more money for the kitchen that was already in his   apartment when he bought it. Apparently buying a new kitchen has put a bigger dent in his budget than he anticipated.

 Hold Your Breath
The other side of the problem is that in all the apartments the kitchen cabinets and appliances have to be custom fitted. So what do you do with your old kitchen cabinets when you move, you ask? Good question.

In Andrea’s case, the woman he bought the apartment from was getting married and moving in with her new husband who lives in Milan.  Since she and Andrea could not come to an agreement, her old kitchen, and it wasn’t old at all, is probably now languishing in a dark basement somewhere, abandoned and totally useless.
 The Poor Neighbors
But, back to the apartment on the 5th floor. Once all the debris is removed and the apartment is thoroughly cleaned, painted and all the light fixtures and appliances are installed, the process of moving in will begin.

One of the condominum rules is that passenger elevators can only be used for passengers, not things. And with no service elevator the the new owners will have to hire a truck fitted with a special crane with an attached platform; a sort of elevator al fresco, without sides. From the truck, their furniture will be loaded on to the platform, hoisted into the air and passed into the apartment by going up over the balcony and through the balcony doors.
No Joke
It seems like a very complicated, difficult and yes, even a dangerous way of doing things, at least from my point of view, but maybe it is the way things are done all over Europe and in other parts of the world. My world-wide moving experience is limited.

It’s also expensive to hire all of the necessary equipment, not to mention the manpower to run it.  And forget about trying to do-it-yourself, unless you can find some guys dumb enough to carry sofas and washing machines up six flights of stairs - the ground floor isn't counted, but you knew that, right? 

I’m thinking about all of this today because I’ve been thinking about moving. But thinking about it is as far as I get. The process seems daunting, especially at this early hour of the morning. 

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