Thursday, October 25, 2012

Carro Attrezzi

Yesterday I started Italian lessons.  Official, go to a class with a teacher, Italian lessons.  I have been studying on my own a bit, and struggling out in town, but now I'm going to a class on the base.  It's only been one day, but I think this will be good for me.  It is time set aside that can't be taken away where I can concentrate and learn.  It's also good because the teacher, being Italian and married to an American, also talks a bit about living in Italy and we can discuss cultural differences and understand them better.  Yesterday in class we talked about Emergency numbers.  She was shocked that in America, we have one number - 911.  Here, there is a different emergency number for each type of service, Fire, Police, Military Police, Ambulance, Road Assistance, etc.

Who knew how valuable that information would be???  Allora, (That's Italian for a whole host of words, used to change thoughts or to get one's attention).  After my Italian class, Chris and I went to the Autoport (mechanic on the base) and got all new bulbs for three areas of the car: Headlights, parking lights and license plate lights.  Right before we left, Chris started the car and asked me to listen to it run.  There is a slight whining noise that looks as if it is coming from the drive belt.  I said that's odd because in the $2000 we spent fixing everything on the car, we replaced that belt!  He said maybe it's just loose and he would look up how to tighten it.  Then we were off to pick up the kiddos.  On the way back to Naples, we were on the Autostrade, debating which way to go.  Chris was driving and we heard a loud "SNAP!"  Chris said he couldn't steer the car, like the power steering went out!  We were able to drive it ahead about a mile to an "SOS" turnout.  He started investigating and just as he walked around to pop the hood, I saw a warning message come up that said, "Major Power System Failure".  He looked at that belt, and sure enough, it had snapped.  We weren't going anywhere for a while.

It's the law in Italy that you have orange vests for each occupant of a vehicle and orange safety triangles.  So I jump out and grab the vests and suit everyone up.  Then we get out the triangles and set them up.  (At least we're legal!)  We called the Autoport because thanks to a friend who had car trouble this same morning, she had posted a question on Facebook where someone responded saying that you can call the Autoport for a tow.  They told us to call the emergency number 115.  We call 115 and get a recorded message! :/

Our last resort is the SOS box at the turnout.  We walk over to the box.  The little Brittish Flag symbol said that if we needed assistance, we should press the button and help will be on the way!  We push the button.  Nothing happens.  So we walk away and pray that help will be on the way!

No sooner do we walk away then a voice comes out of the Heavens!  "PRONTO!"  Well, not out of the Heavens but out of the SOS box.  We run back over and ask, "Parla Inglese?"  "NO!"  Well, Chris kept saying TOW TRUCK!  "Non Capisco".  (I don't understand.) So I grabbed my phone and translate, "tow truck".  It is "carro attrezzi"  I say, "Carro Attrezzi!"  He kept asking us for some other piece of information that we didn't understand and then hung up on us.  We now have to assume help will come...

We go back by the car and out on the country road that parallels the highway, a woman drives up and talks to us.  I explain that we don't speak Italian well and she said she could call for help.  We told her that we used the SOS box and she was confident someone would come quickly, 30 minutes or 1 hour at the most (Quick, huh!)  Then she offered to bring us some refreshments!  Like beer or something.  I asked if she could bring some water for the kids.  "Si!  Si!  Con gassa o ancora acqua?"  Here most people drink carbonated water (or water with gas).  I reply, "Naturale, senza gassa."  That means Natural water without carbonation.  She left and came back with 4 liters of cold water and 4 bicchieri (four plastic cups).  She even put foil over the cups so that we knew they were clean.  She was an angel, and that is the kindness of the southern Italian.  She would take nothing for her trouble and was happy to help us!

Soon after, a car from the Autostrade came up and tried to figure out exactly what we needed since they couldn't understand us at the SOS box.  At the same moment, a tow truck came and prepared to load us up!  Chris had just called one of our Italian friends, Ciro and explained the situation.  He then handed the phone to the tow truck driver and explained we needed to be towed to the base.  He was familiar with the base and knew exactly what we needed to do.  He explained the fees and just to put the car on the truck was 110 and an additional €1.30 per Kilometer!  I was prepared for that because I saw that on some of my friend's Facebook posts this morning.  Also, I knew that our insurance may reimburse us for the tow.  Allora, he loaded up our car and we loaded into the tow truck.  When we got in the truck, Ivan was dying to drive the it and wanted to push every button he saw.  The driver let him press the buttons that worked the lights and such.  He was very happy!

We went to the base and once we got in the gate (never a quick moment) we took it into the Autoport.  Luckily Chris had Euro cash on him because that's all the tow truck drivers take.  Then the driver said, (in Italian) "Hey, nothing for me?  Caffe?"  (He wanted a tip, that is the game of the southern Italian).  So Chris gave him another 10 because that's all he had, and sent him on his way.

Then I took the kids over to the food court so Emily could start homework and Chris talked to the mechanics at the Autoport.  Well, the belt snapped due to some bearings that went bad and caused the belt tensioner to also break.  And at least it's a European car, right?  So parts are easy to get, right? NO!

It's an American spec car, so all the parts have to be ordered from the US.  That means it will take 10-15 days to receive the parts and who knows how much labor!  (Mamma Mia!)

It just so happened that we also had Chris' Motorcycle on the base, so he had to drive to our hotel to get the car and pick us all up.  While I was in Italian class this morning, Chris had done two baskets full of laundry and we also had a lot of other things in the car: laundry soap, umbrellas, school bags for all of us and all the other things you accumulate when you commute.  So after we loaded up and fed dinner to everyone, we were FINALLY able to load up everything and go home in our second car.

We make it about 5 miles down the road, and the red STOP warning light and the temperature light come on in our second car!!!  MAMMA MIA!  Really?  We pull into a Q8 gas station and Chris jumps out to investigate.  The temperature light was on, but the car wasn't running hot, so we thought maybe it just needed coolant.  We talk to the attendant at the gas station and he speaks a little english!  YAY!

After some investigation they find that the car needed a whole liter of oil and liter of coolant.  We fill up the fluids and are back on the road with no issue.  Whew!  We finally make it home!  All in time to finish homework, go to bed and get up and do it all again in about 8 hours.

Although it's crazy that we had two breakdowns in two cars in a 6 hour window, I am thankful for many things!  Our friends who never hesitate to help us translate (thanks Ciro and Kathy!), the woman who brought ice cold water to us on the side of the road, two friends that offered us an extra car, Emily winning TWO stuffed animals out of the claw game on base, one for herself and one for Ivan which cheered them up.  That our second car was easily fixed.  That our car did not break down when we were on vacation in Tuscany or in a bad part of town!  That we were safe through the whole process!

This morning I safely made it to school with the kids!  Thankful for the small miracles!  :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How Many Banks Does It Take to Live in Italy?

Today was banking day.  Which means draining and a bit boring.  If you are having trouble going to sleep, maybe this post will help!

No, it's not an Italian holiday, but it was an interesting day nonetheless - a bit draining and a bit boring.  If you are having trouble going to sleep, maybe this post will help!  We have been living in Naples for approximately 4 1/2 months using only our American bank.  We have a branch here on the base, so we are able to do most things easily.  Even withdrawing euro from a local bank has been easy.  They only thing we have been taking a hit on has been when we use our Visa or Check Card out in town.  We are charged a 1% International Transaction Fee.  Not a lot of money, but it sure can add up and downright clutter your bank statement!

In preparation for moving out of our hotel and into our home we have to establish an account with a bank that will allow us to electronically transfer funds to pay our rent.  It used to be that Americans would pay rent in cash and then the landlords would not claim the full amount for taxes...well, not the landlords and us are required to do these transactions electronically so there is a record of it.  Also we need it to pay any utilities in town that are not in the landlord's name and the Telepass.  Telepass is like the various toll booth passes in the states.  You are able to bypass the lines and have the toll automatically debited from a credit or debit card.  The Telepass works only on Italian system.  Stopping for tolls is not always a big deal, but when Chris rides his motorcycle, it can be downright dangerous for him to stop and fumble with a wallet at the toll booth.  So we need at least one unit for him to commute.

The other thing we have to consider is exchange rates.  When you are exchanging large sums of money for rent and other things, a small fluctuation in the exchange rate could result in $50-$100 difference depending on where you buy Euro.

On the base there are two options.  One is Banco Di Napoli (Italian Bank) and one is Community Bank (An affiliate of Bank of America, and American with special privileges).  Both have their good points and bad.

We first went to Banco Di Napoli and briefly heard them.  Their banking fees are expensive.  Some fees are monthly, some are quarterly, and in total, the add up to approximately 90 euro annually.  The advantages are they normally have the best buy/sell rate for converting dollars to euro and you could like the Telepass directly to your bank account.  The down side is that they do charge a 6 euro fee to exchange any amount of money, they have a lot of account fees and they charge for money transfers to the landlord and such.

Then we went to Community Bank.  Community Bank as I mentioned is an American bank that whole job is to provide military and military contractors a way to bank in the economy of the host country without being banking with the host country.  They can set up the electronic payments with landlords and with utility companies by doing cashier checks.  If you set up a recurring payment (for instance, rent is always the same each month) there is no fee.  However, if you do any one-time payments (like for utilities) there is a $2 fee for each.  However banking is completely free!  Free checking and savings.  Another perk is we can transfer money online from our other American Bank.  If you want an interest bearing checking, then you must keep a minimum of $500 in your account.  I doubt we would do this because they do charge $1.50 for each ATM use that isn't their bank.  And the only ATM machine that exists here is NOT convenient for us.  So it would only be used to pay bills.  The biggest downside is that although the exchange rates are better than we have been able to do up until now, they are almost never as good as Banco Di Napoli.  Also, the Telepass cannot be linked to this account.

There is one other option for the Telepass - The base provides a service that can set you up with a Telepass linked with an American credit card.  You have to pay a $48 deposit refundable 2 months after you return the equipment, AND you have to pay them a $10 fee per month for just providing the service!  OUCH!  That adds up!

So, what are we going to do?  Well, we are going to go gray (or gray-er) a little early and work the system.

  1. Chris has the task of creating a spreadsheet so on any given day, we can plug in the exchange rates at all the banks and find out who has the best rate that day. 
  2. We will open a Community Bank account and use that to pay the landlord and the kids Italian school via free Automatic transfer
  3. We will also open a Banco Di Napoli account.  This will give us even better exchange rates than the person walking in off the street and it will allow us to use the Telepass system hassle-free.  The fees here are just as cheap if not cheaper than the fees on the base for the Telepass and there are more benefits.  Also easy to use it if out in town or anywhere in Europe where the Euro is used.
  4. When it is time for use to transfer money, we will find out who has the best rate, buy euro and deposit it into the best account.  We will not hold large balances on any of these accounts.  Just enough to do what we need to do.
  5. We will also be researching some online currency traders to find even better deals on buying euro.
If you have more than $10,000 in an Italian bank you have to disclose it for tax purposes.  The last time I did this is when I had to withdraw over $10,000 in cash in a single transaction during the foreign adoption of our son.  It's not really an issue to do this but there are stiff penalties if you don't.  However I don't foresee ever needing that much cash in our Italian bank. 

Ok.  Glad I got all that down because I'll likely forget by tomorrow! :)  So much to keep straight!  But I think once the routine is established, it will get easier.

If any of you Italian friends or American friends have any advice to add I'd sure appreciate it!  Leave me a comment!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Civic Duty - Check!

Well, we did our civic duty today.  We voted.

Voting should have been easy, but it did take a little work.  We are permanent absentee voters, but I didn't realize in time that the Post Office wouldn't likely forward our absentee ballots.

So after seeing many, many, many reminders on the AFN Network (Armed Forces Network Television programming) and receiving many, many, many reminders via email, I finally logged into to see what our options were.  FVAP is the Federal Voters Assistance Program and assists all voters in getting registered to vote in your local county, helping military and others away from home or overseas getting their votes counted in the elections.  Since our printer is still in storage, we went to the base to the Fleet and Family Center to use their computers and printers.

It was pretty easy.  Since we were already registered, absentee voters, the process was that we had to submit a write-in ballot for the election.  I looked up the local and state candidates and proposition numbers and wrote in our selections for each.  We fed envelopes in the printer and the postage-paid, pre-addressed, official election envelopes, addressed with our proper address popped out!  Also, by doing this, it changed our mailing address for future elections to be our FPO address here in Italy.  Too simple!

California has some hefty issues on the ballot this year coupled with a presidential election, we had to ensure our votes counted.  Being a military family and having been all over the world, there truly is no country as special as the United States of America.  Regardless if you are democrat or republican, when you live in other parts of the world, you gain a perspective like none-other.  We have our problems, FOR SURE, but we have a system that allows us to work through them.  It may take us 10s of years to do so, but there are places where it takes 100s of years to work through issues.  In other words, we joke about the creature comforts of home and how they aren't always here, but there truly is NO place like HOME!

This time of year reminds me of this image of the Iraqi woman who voted for the first time in 2005.  This is the very freedom we are here for.  What we fight for.  What we stand for.  It's why I was proud to work in the Defense industry.  It's the reason I willingly married a military man.  It's the reason we can live for over a year without seeing my husband or my kids endure separation from their Dad.  It's the reason my family willingly leaves the USA and goes into the world.  It's the reason we are here now.

Vote.  Do it for all of us!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Italy vs. Europe


Well, today wasn't without it's moments, but nothing to really write an essay about.  Kids had a great day at school, I worked with the school director (over caffe) to plan their first annual Fall Festival and we got more progress made with the housing office to grease the skids into getting into our new home!  Friday we can start to make better educated predictions on when we will actually move in.

I do feel the need to mention as I was in a store today, all the stores seem to blare loud, obnoxious discotheque music.  It's almost always in English and almost always has very bad words in it.  It's really something to see moms and their little girls shopping tapping to the music and have no idea what they are singing!  I think I would have gotten a real kick out of this when I was about 19, but now that I'm a bit older than that, I just can't stand it!  I'm getting a little grumpy in my old age!

But I don't want to disappoint without a much cooler story than that, so with no further ado I give you the link to the video, "Europe vs. Italy!" that I mentioned in an earlier blogpost Please Don't Sneeze in My Cornetto

If you have been to Italy, you will really understand.  If you haven't, you may think that this is an exaggeration.  I assure you, it is not!

Enjoy and I'll see you here tomorrow!  Please subscribe and comment here on the blog.  As our membership grows, I plan to do some fun giveaways of authentic italian "stuff"!


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Mysterious Leak

I know you don't all possibly believe this crazy stuff happens to us every day, but believe me, it does.

Today, I had the joy of uncovering the mysterious leak.  I got home to the hotel from school with the kids, and of course, they are STARVING.  So me, being brilliant, took the second half of the amazing homemade chicken soup I made Sunday night on the stove to reheat it on this rainy day for an early dinner.

By the way, I recently found the most amazing "alphabet" pasta for the kids last week.  I cooked up some and added it to the soup.  It's made here locally in Naples and I cannot believe how nicely it cooked and holds it's shape.  I made chicken soup to keep everyone healthy in this time of season change when everyone around us is sneezing!  And the family had the most beautiful homemade alphabet soup ever!

So, I'm in the kitchen and my shoes are squeaking on the tile.  I knew that our housekeeper just cleaned today and figured the floors were just a little wet still.  But eventually I look down and notice a big puddle of water!  Not quite sure what to mop it up with, I go get one of our beach towels out of the closet (no more swimming for us anyway) and mop up the water.  I look to see if I can figure out where it was coming from but I can't.  So I go on to serve my babies their early soup dinner.

About an hour later I go back into the kitchen and alas, the puddle has reappeared.  Now I know something isn't right!  So I go to the office and tell the manager that the apartment has a leak.  She said, "Yes, this is entirely possible."  (Greaaaaaaaaaat! I moan to myself)  I figure it can be one of three things, the pipes going in, the pipes going out (yuck) or the rain water coming in the walls (Uh oh!)

So the helpful handyman comes over and investigates.  He moped up the area and said, "I don't think there's any more water."  I say, "Yes, there is!  I cleaned it up and just an hour later, there was another huge puddle!"  He said, "Well, just come get me anytime if there's another puddle."  REALLY????

So an hour later, I hit the pavement, in the rain, to knock on his hut and let him know, alas, there is another puddle.

He comes back over and investigates again.  He now tells me that my sink drain is probably clogged and that is causing the leak and he'll check again tomorrow morning.  He asks, "Will you be home in the morning?" I answer, "No, I have to take the kids to school."  He said, "OK.  When you get home we will check."  By then I will need an ARK!!!

So, he leaves and one hour later?  Another puddle!  But now I open my fridge to take the italian sausages out of the freezer and into the fridge for tomorrow's sausage and pasta dinner (one of Hubby's favs) and I notice that the ice buildup inside the fridge is melting!  Alas!  Have I found my leak???

I spend the next hour removing sheets of ice from the fridge walls and also scraping ice out of the freezer.  I notice that the dial in the fridge was set at 3 and I believe it was at 4 before.  Maybe I knocked the dial the night before and the fridge is just defrosting onto the floor?  Well, I cleaned up the fridge, cleaned up the puddle and will wait for morning to find out if I need to get a raft at Decathlon on the way home.  (Did I mention I can't WAIT to get out of this hotel?)

Frost-free refrigerators are something that I'm not sure exists in Italy.  It at least hasn't existed in either the base housing we started in or this hotel.  All of the appliances seem a bit different here.  I'm pretty sure I already complained about the washer and dryer.  But man, they sure can engineer a coffee maker!  :)

Here's a picture of that beautiful pasta.

It's shapes were just amazing, it didn't stick at all and it tasted delicious!  Molto saporito!

Good news on the housing front!  Our home we have been waiting for in Avellino is gaining momentum!!!  We may be in pre-contract next week!  Stay tuned for a proposed move-in date sometime soon!!!  (We are praying hard to be settled in so we can have a very thankful Thanksgiving in our new home!)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Here We (All) Go

"We are going to move to Avellino!". This is the thought I keep telling myself over and over again as I sit in my hotel room in Lago Patria. We have been here since June and have still not settled into a home. Oh, we have come close to many, but not actually moved in yet. It's probably going to be a three-part blog on the military housing process here in Naples when we do move, but for now, just laugh with me about our situation! :)

Looooooooooong story short, we are waiting for THE house in Avellino. But the waiting is getting frustrating and I am commuting my kids to school one hour each way in the meantime. So as I do after a while, I start to get frustrated and try to look for other options.

While my hubby and I were sojourning in Avellino while the kids were in school, we decided to drop in on local friends for lunch. I called to invite ourselves over and she told me another new family was also coming who wanted to live in Avellino before their appointment to see a house.

We went over and met this great family and had a beautiful lunch by the way. Then they invited us along to go to the showing! I was honored they would let us go with them as we had not seen this property before.

We decide to go and we're late already (darn last cup of espresso!) and after a brief discussion to carpool we each decided to take our own cars. Our mutual friends were going with their kids to translate, the family to see the appointment with their kids and us because after the appointment we have to pick up our kids.

Three cars of people to see one house.

So we all get into our respective cars and drive. Then we notice we are completely out of gas. We call our Italian friends and tell them and ask where we are going assume we could meet them. I'm talking to the wife. Meanwhile the husband is on the phone with the real estate agent who says, "My car is broken down and I need a ride. Come get me and we will drive together to the place.". Our car's warning panel reads, "-- MILES TO EMPTY TANK" My friend tells me the agent just won't tell him where we are going. We are passing a Q8 gas station close to their house and are so tempted to pull in but we know we'd get separated so we press on.

After passing three more gas stations we stop in Mercogliano, the next town over, and pick up the real estate agent. There is an Agip gas station in sight... (they honor the NATO gas coupons we use) but the caravan is turning around! Ugh. So now, we are driving back the same way we came, back to Avellino, and back to the very same Q8 gas station we wanted to pull into! We decide whatever we are doing here, WE are stopping for gas. Hubby pits in 10 liters and I get out to find out why we are looking at a gas station instead of a house. At this time, we are already 30 minutes past the original appointment time.

She explains to me that we are here to meet the landlord of the house! The agent didn't know how to get there. So now we are four cars into the caravan. When we finally all arrive at the house, we are four cars, an hour late and less than a mile from our friends home.

But this is so typical! In a place where gas is the equivalent of about $9 US per gallon, everyone does this crazy car tango instead of the agent providing the client information up front so that we could all plan ahead!

I know I'd be wondering, "Well? Was it worth it?" I have seen about 80-90 homes in Italy since we got here. This one stood out in the charm category. This landlord designed the home and it had a bit of whimsy, like we would be renting a wing of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. It had lots of striped wallpaper, art deco style doors, split level floors, staircases to hidden closet doors and some very sloped ceilings. The kids would have loved it! Downside, it reeked of smoke, you would live on top of the landlord, you had to share the garden (yard) and no garage. He told our friends translating that if he liked us, he would let us use the garage but basically we'd have to earn it. And the back patio was off limits! Too many restrictions for us!!!

Oh well. Va bene! We will just continue to be patient!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Please Don't Sneeze in my Cornetto!

This post is not for the faint of heart. Just a warning, read at your own risk!

Today my hubby had the day off, so we drove the kids to school and snuck away for a little espresso and cornetto (typical Italian breakfast).

We Took a leisurely stroll in the rain to a bar down the street. For my Americans, the bar does serve alcohol but mostly it serves caffe and pastry, especially in the mornings. There are always at least two bars in sight from wherever you stand in Italy. And everyone has their favorite one, usually based on the brand of coffee they use at the bar.

Today we walk in and it's very busy due to the rain - teenagers getting a little something before school, adults off to work downing an espresso and the little old ladies having cappuccino before grocery shopping. I was looking forward to a moment with Chris before we ourselves were heading off to an appointment.

Let me briefly explain the process at a bar. There are pretty strict rules to follow when you enter one. I read about them in a cultural indoctrination book and was taught them in cultural awareness training, but you can't appreciate them until you live them. Here is my version:

Rule 1: Starbucks is not a Caffe bar.
I know you can order a macchiato or mocha cappuccino or frappucino and you can order drinks in "venti" or "trenta" but Starbucks is not even close! The rules that follow will explain further, but when you don't understand, refer to rule number 1!

Rule 2: Pay first then order
This rule doesn't make sense, but at many bars the person at the register isn't a barista. So you pay, take your receipt to the "bar" and tell them what you want. Being new to Italy makes this difficult when you might want some sort of pastry and you don't know the Italian name for it! Or even how to order your coffee. But in time you learn. Best not to practice this at peak hours because you will be steamrolled by either the workers at the bar or the customers but at less busy times, like the afternoon when Italians take riposo is a great time to practice.

Rule 3: There is no line!
Italians don't wait in line for anything! The just push their way in front of you. If you think you are in line, you will never, ever get served. And once you understand this rule, everything in Italy makes more sense!

Rule 4: No cappuccini after lunch
In Italy, cappuccino is a breakfast caffe. It is enjoyed with a Cornetto which the rest of the world calls a croissant. It is usually filled with cream, chocolate or frutti di bosco (quite literally, "fruit of the forest" or "mixed berries"). No Italian would order a cappuccino after lunch unless the work the night shift and the evening is their morning.

Rule 5: You get what you get
I had been on vacation in Florence and went to the same bar there every morning. A friend of mine and I each got a cappuccino. Her's always had chocolate powder on top. Mine had a fancy cream design. We didn't order any differently. The guy at the bar made us what he wanted to make! If chocolate powder was handy, he'd dust the coffee before pouring the steamed milk foam into the cup. If not, he'd just pour a beautiful heart shape. Can you tell them that's not what you ordered? Sure! But you might not want to go back again. Italians drink their coffee so fast they probably don't even notice! Which brings us to...

Rule 6: No sitting
Ok, you can sit, but you'll pay for it. Literally you will pay! If you sit down then you actually don't pay up front. You are treated like you came into a restaurant and a server will take your order. And when you receive your bill, you will see the charge for "coperto". Coperto is a fee you pay at any restaurant. It's per person and can be spendy. Restaurants are usually 2-4 euro per person! Caffe bars are usually less, but when you are only paying 60 cents for a caffe, you're paying more for the seat you occupy than the caffe itself! Just stand and be quick about it. Drink up and move along. An Italian friend told me, "Italians are always in a hurry. To go where? I'm not sure. But it isn't to work!". No one is at the bar more than a minute or two after their caffe is poured. Drink and move along!

Rule 7: No tipping
Italians don't tip. At least not like Americans do. We tip for everything in America. In Italy, tipping is not required. If you feel you received extraordinary service you can leave a little something but not just because they did their job. A refreshing approach. Although I must say in a lot of places the service industry suffers because of it. They really need help in this area because although they are so friendly and welcoming, they aren't always the best at friendly customer service. I've seen good and bad and it's pretty 50-50!

Rule 8: Drink often!
It's so quick that you are in and out of the bar, and many Italians will stop in a bar 4-6 times a day! They may make espresso at home too. I think that this is how they stay thin or how they survive the late nights. I don't know but the enjoy caffe frequently!

Well those are the rules. Now back to my story :)

Again, very busy morning at the bar. Chris an I push ourselves to the register to order two caffe and two cornetto. As we were about to order, the man at the register grabs a used tissue from his pocket and sneezes big into it. Then he shoved it back in his pocket, gave the girl her change and served her her bottle of water and cups, caffe and cornetto! Eeewwww! Chris starts to freak out. I suggest we go to the next bar (as I mentioned before, there is always another bar half a block away) but a lady swooped in and took our order. She also got our cornetto while another gal set our little saucers down and prepared our caffe. (yay) But the whole time, we could not take our eyes of Sneezy! He continued to use that tissue until it couldn't hold anymore sneezes. Then he went to his bare hands!!! He didn't once go wash his hands. He was singing and sneezing all morning long. I was trying to distract my hubby with the YouTube video "Italy vs. Europe" (a must-see by the way) but alas, he could not take his eyes off Sneezy as he went to the kitchen and brought out trays of cornetti. Luckily we got out of there before Hubby got angry enough to punch him in the sneezer like he wanted to!

I just want to thank those lovely ladies for saving us today by stepping in and standing the gap between us and Sneezy Germ Man. They certainly deserved the breaking of Rule #7!

And my new Rule!
Rule 9: Please don't sneeze in my cornetto!!!