Vacation, Driving School and Financial Crisis

I am not going to make the usual apology for not posting since August.  Yes I have spent a lot of time in front of the computer, but working or studying for the Italian Driver’s License.

September we spent 9 days in Neustift im Stuaital, Austria at a guesthouse, Gasthof Schallerhof.  I highly recommend the place.  Tuesday nights they have utensil-free dinner, yes you read correctly.  You are served your dinner, which you have the pleasure of eating with your hands.

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After returning from Austria I started studying to get the Italian Driver’s License since Italy is one of many countries that does not convert a North American license into the local one.  I had to obtain a medical certificate from my family doctor, results of a vision exam from my optometrist, a letter from my neurologist since I have epilepsy stating that I am under medical care and I am fully capable of driving plus a medical certificate from the provincial health.  This is all before being able to start “driving school”.  Once enrolled in the driving school a person has six months to take the theory exam.  There are forty questions, in Italian, French or German, all of which are true/false and you are allowed a maximum of four errors in order to pass.  My first attempt at the exam – six errors.  Second time, seven.  I was doing well at home, averaging two errors but when I went to the provincial department of motor vehicles, I panicked and failed.  Price of taking the theory exam, 150 euros ($195), each time.   In addition to the 200 euros ($261)to attend driving school theory lessons.  Now that the six months has passed I have to do all of the documentation over again.  Once I do pass the theory exam, next step will be the actual driving lessons, with a manual transmission.  Lessons are 13 euros ($17) for every half hour, with a minimum, by law, of six hours.  Then another 150 euros to take the driving exam.  At the moment studying for the theory/driver’s license in general is on hold since I am concentrating on working as much as possible.  Explanation is to follow.

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Italy is still feeling the financial crisis and it seems, for at least the immediate future, no relief in sight.  We (my husband and I) had been lucky and really didn’t “feel” the crisis, business for both of us seemed to be going ok or well.  That was until the end of November.  Thanks to poor financial management on the part of my husband’s boss my husband has not been paid since the end of November, like other employees of the company and also creditors.  His boss is in severe financial problems, both personally and professionally speaking.  Thankfully since I am taking a break from studying for the Italian driver’s license I am able to work more hours teaching English.  I am doing quite well, for me the financial crisis has actually helped me.  Many people are needing to learn or improve their English because either they are looking for a job or if they do have a job they want to make sure they keep the job.  I do have some students that are even looking abroad since they are unable to find a job in Italy.

Dolderauhof

Photos from Ormala & Bobbio Italy

As promised (but a little Late) are some photos from when we were in Oltrepo Pavese Italy earlier this year.  Enjoy!

This coming Saturday we’re off to Austria for a 9-day vacation.  A VERY much needed vacation for both of us.  The last time we had a serious vacation together was back in November 2006 when we went to Marsa Alam Egypt.  In February 2008 we did spend 5 days in England but it wasn’t as relaxing compared to Egypt.

FINALLY a new post!

Wow it has been over two years since I’ve written anything on this blog.  I have not posted anything because I felt I had nothing interesting to post.  Life had become routine and we had not gone anywhere.

Without writing a 500-page novel, after returning from the States in June 2010 after the death of my mother, we fell back into a “routine” where we basically “existed” and both the husband and I had been stuck there ever since.  My husband’s back started to increasingly give him more and more problems and ended up bed ridden.  I continued on with my English lessons and taking care of my husband.  August of last year we spent ten days along Lake Lugano where one of my husband’s cousins has a house along the lake.

January 2012 we spent a weekend in Oltrepò Pavese  Italy.  Oltrepò Pavese is an area in the northwestern corner of the region of Lombardy.  Oltrepò is famous in this area for their wines.  Beautiful area, just some of the roads at night made me a bit nervous!  Considering we were in the mountains, in winter.  There were some parts of the road there was no guard rail so nothing between you and the raven below, ice/snow covered road and in total darkness.  Easily understandable why one would be nervous, no?  The other half understood when we went back in April, we took a little road trip on the same road during the day and in better weather conditions obviously.  It sunk in why….

April 2012 my purse was stolen from my car on my weekly trip to the supermarket.  I had loaded up my car, taken the shopping cart back, put my purse on the driver’s side seat, and closed the door for a moment.  A car with two men stopped and asked for directions, where these men were from I do not know, but from their accents and complexions not from Italy. I gave them directions and they were off.  I got into my car, pulled out and looked down, no purse!  Went back to the supermarket, tore my car apart, nothing.  Went into the supermarket, nothing.  Checked by the shopping carts, nothing.  At least I still had the car key and my cell phone.  But everything else, gone.  Wallet, my South Dakota driver’s license, credit cards from here and the States, house keys, Italian Identification Card, Italian health card, cash.  I had put my husband’s wedding ring in my wallet for safe keeping because it had become too tight due to he gaining some weight.  The ring is now gone as well.  At least my passports I had left at home that day.

Thankfully my husband was home at the time so the apartment was open.  But just in case we changed the locks since my house keys were in my purse along with my identification, which lists my address.  By the time all was said and done, took over a month to get all missing documents replaced, mainly my Italian documents.  My driver’s license I have a temporary paper license valid for one year until I can get back to South Dakota to have a permanent replacement.   The Italian bureaucracy was crazy, as always.  I have come to expect that here.

So if you decide to move and live here and have to report your wallet/purse stolen and need to replace your Italian documents, the procedure is as follows:

  • File a police report (denuncia in Italian) with the local police or Carabinieri. If you had any credit cards in your wallet, try to track down the credit card numbers; the police WILL ask for this and if you don’t have them they will not take the report.  They’ll tell you to come back once you have the credit card numbers.  Without this police report you are unable to get a replacement I.D. , health card or permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) or passports.
  • Visit your local town hall (comune) with two photos and the ORIGINAL police report.  The comune will NOT accept a photocopy of the police report.  The new Italian Identification cards are now valid for ten years expiring on your birthday.
  • Italian health office is your next stop (or even before the comune) to replace your Italian health card and fiscal code card, which are now conveniently one card.  The health office, like the comune, asks for the original copy of the police report (denuncia)
  • To replace your permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) you will have to visit your local Questura (police station) with of course the original police report in hand to find out what the procedure is.

Father and Son in Alleyway in Bobbio, Italy

This summer, just busy working and trying to stay busy working.  At the end of August we’re planning on spending a week in Austria.  A much needed and well-deserved vacation away.  I’ve only been to Austria once, for supper after watching a football (soccer) match in Liechtenstein.  So I am really looking forward to going and also because my husband will be able to relax which he needs at the moment.

The photos are of when we went to Oltrepò Pavese, will post more sometime this week.

Captain Ben Marler

When I went through some of my mothers photos, I found these two.  The man used to be my dad’s best friend, Harvey and his wife.  They both passed on when I was about 8 years old.  He was like a grandfather to me.  I know my dad looked up to him as a father, since there was a bit of age difference between the two.  Evidently at one point in time Harvey may have worked or known a Captain Ben Marler.  If you recognize either person in these photos, please let me know! 

Death in the family

I returned to Italy last week after spending 2 weeks in my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota due to my mother passing away.
It was bright and early, like 6ish, on a Saturday morning.  My husband had gotten up early and discovered a South Dakota phone number on the caller id and immediately woke me up by telling me something is probably wrong with my mom.  Looked at the phone, Sioux Falls phone number.  I called, sure enough was the nursing home my mom had been living at for the last few years.  She had been admitted into the intensive care unit.  When I called the hospital fortunately the kidney doctor just happened to be there.  The doctor said that my mother’s kidneys were only functioning at 20% and probably be put on dialysis.  I gave my consent since my mother was suffering from confusion due to all of the impurities running through her system.  The doctor was not too confident of my mom’s outlook.  Sunday, the next day, talked to the cardiologist.  My mom’s aorta valve was hardening and becoming narrow, therefore limiting the amount of blood that her heart was able to pump out.  Considering everything, also the fact my mom was diabetic, there was nothing the doctors could do.  No surgery, medications, procedures.  My mom was given a matter of days, two weeks tops.  They kept her on dialysis until I was able to make it Stateside that Wednesday night.
When I arrived I immediately went to the hospital to see her.  She was awake, alert and immediately recognized me.  She knew I was there and was glad to see her only child made it over before passing away.  Thursday she pretty much slept the entire day.  I had a meeting with some doctors that morning and told me that it was up to me if I wanted to keep her on dialysis, oxygen and medications to stabilize her heart rate which were just stabilizing her and giving her “time” or to remove everything and let nature take its course.  I chose the latter.  She knew I was there by her bedside, she was suffering, why prolong it?
So on Friday machines and medications were gradually removed and my mom was free of anything “artificial”.  She was awake and talking a majority of the day.  How much she understood of what was going on, one will never know.  She knew I was there, recognized two of my friends that came to visit and also the bishop of the church she attended.
When I left the hospital Friday evening, after spending almost 12 hours there, she was eating a cheeseburger, her last meal on this earth.  She asked to have the television turned on.  She fell asleep watching TV, never to wake up.
Saturday morning I arrived at about 8:30am to find her deeply asleep with the television still on.  My mom’s GP’s intern was so sweet and came in to visit at about 10:30 and stayed for about half an hour, on her day off.  That really touched me, the intern coming in on her day off to see how things were going.  How my mom and I were doing.  A few minutes after she left I went outside to smoke then send an email to my husband to keep him updated on the situation.  I was gone for maybe fifteen minutes.  When I returned I found my mother had passed away.
She was diagnosed around 1992 with diabetes, had a gastric bypass in October 2001 to lose weight.  Unfortunately her health went downhill after her diagnosis with diabetes.  After a long struggle, she is now at peace and in no pain. 

Personal Interest Poll

When did you start using a computer? For how long have you been able to use a computer? What computer applications do you use the most? How long have you been “online”. And last but not least, your country of residence. Post your responses in the comments section.

I’m doing this survey out of curiosity, after noticing the slight differences in computer usage between Italy and the USA.

Morimondo

Yes I admit I have neglected this blog. My original intention “years ago” when I started this blog was to blog about my life here in Italy as an Expat originally from the midwest of the United States. Well, after over seven and a half years of living in Italy, I’m still here and I feel that there is not much to blog about anymore. No I am not totally abandoning this blog, but posts will not be very frequent. I’ve already done the posts about my ordeals of obtaining my permit to stay and eventual Italian citizenship. Bureaucratic nightmares that I do not wish to relive. One thing that I haven’t mentioned and I am thankful that I obtained Italian citizenship when I did is that shortly after I officially become an Italian citizen the Italian post office has taken over trying to help the Questure (police) in handling the paperwork for the permit to stays. This has turned into a bureaucratic mess and have heard there is a backlog of literally thousands of applications and people receiving expired permit to stays.

Last Sunday we did have a little “outing”, the first time in a long while. We visited a small village called Morimondo which is about 20 kilometers (roughly 12 miles) southwest of Milan. There is a nice abbey that dates back to 1182.