the one where qualified electricians willing to work in a timely fashion need not apply

Given the decidedly positive slant towards Italy that my blog has ended up taking, one would think all the pesky little annoyances that so plagued me about Italy two or three years ago have become commonplace. Or trivial. Or amusing. Or viewed in the manner of a particularly cheeky but adorable child: Oh, Italy, you scamp, you!

Last night, however, after returning home from a lovely day at the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia, I found myself back in the throes of cursing Italy with some choice swears.


An electric socket in John’s room blew. And by blew I mean sparks flew, the wall was scorched and the metal switch plate melted. The apartment went dark. Luckily Mike remembered where we had stashed the flashlights and he was able to reset the circuit breaker, restoring electricity to the house. “Whew!” said we. “That could have been ugly! All’s well that ends well.”


Oh, but dear readers, we all know that it didn’t end there. Because it never does.


Several minutes later we heard a beeping noise. A persistent beeping. It was the panel for the house alarm. This had happened before when we had lost electricity. No big deal. I typed in the code and turned it off.


We went back to our previously scheduled program. We heard a particularly loud car alarm blaring, but we live in the city and unfortunately that’s an every day occurrence. Sometimes it’s even ours. Because someone has broken into our car.


“Is that a house alarm?” Mike asked as the alarm continued to wail. I opened the window and leaned out to look around, but all of our neighbors’ alarms were dark and silent. Ours, however, was pulsing and screeching like nobody’s business. “Holy *&^5!” I yelled, “it’s ours!”


We typed in the code again to shut it off but nothing happened. Nothing happened the next time we did that either. Or the next time. One of our dogs ran under the bed to hide, the other started growling and snarling, mohawk bristling, ready to defend against an intruder. (In case you were wondering which was which, it’s now 27 hours later and  Sookie is still under the bed.) I was leaning out of the window hitting our alarm with a broom, while inside, Mike hit the alarm panel. with a hammer. I could hear our neighbors’ windows opening and the word “Americani” being bandied about. But then something the Americani did was successful and the alarm shut the f- off.






Our phone started ringing. It was the landlord LD. Because she wanted to let us know that the neighbors had called her to report that our alarm was shrieking. Mike explained in Italian that an electrical outlet in the house had blown and that somehow that had triggered the alarm. She assured us that she would come over tomorrow to check things out.






Upon awakening and being ready to face the day, we discovered that our coffee maker wasn’t working.  Or our refrigerator. Or our oven. Or our hot water. Or our washing machine. Because as it turned out they were all operating on the same grid as the alarm and were negatively affected by the blown outlet in John’s room.


We rounded up all of the extension cords and surge protector power strips that we could find and constructed an elaborate spider web of cords. It became Ninja Warrior elaborate as all of the outlets and plugs in the house are just like snowflakes: no two are alike. So we had to do a Sophie’s Choice as to what we needed to work. The hot water and refrigerator won.



At this point, have you seen our rarely working hot water heater so many times that you could pick it out of a line-up?





We called the landlord, who had yet to show up to check on things as she had promised the night before, and da da da…her phone was shut off. So we texted her. And then we made bagels ( please don’t get your hopes up and message me asking where in Rome one can buy bagels; I bring them from America.) in a pan on the stove and set off for the grocery store to replace all the food that went bad overnight in our not-working refrigerator.


We used to use the oven because we don’t have a toaster. Now we use the stove because the oven doesn’t work.




Meanwhile, Mike kept calling LD until she finally picked up and after listening to the list of all the appliances and outlets in our house that no longer worked, she assured us that she didn’t think it was an electrical problem. Anyway, she couldn’t come today to check because she was on a train. And not tomorrow. But maybe Tuesday. Which means that I will stay at home on Tuesday and the landlord will not show up until Thursday. Friday at the latest.


And if I have learned one thing while living in Italy (and no, it’s not how to be an amazing cook and no, it’s not how to speak Italian), it’s that this will not be resolved for a very long time. Because LD will first show up alone to see if there is any possibility that she can announce there is no problem. When it turns out that that this is not the case, she will tell me she will come back to tomorrow with an electrician. When tomorrow turns into the following week, she will show up with her nephew who is in tenth grade and is really really good at playing World of Warcraft, thereby making him pretty much qualified to look around at our cobbled together network of extension cords and shrug his shoulders and agree that none of the electricity in the back half of our apartment works.



With my qualifications as a dog living here, I  agree that something is broken.



LD will then apologize profusely and promise me she will return the following day with an electrician. When she catches me unaware four days later as I am getting out of the shower, she will have her best friend’s husband’s brother-in-law with her who used to work at IKEA putting light bulbs in all the new lamps. He will also agree that not only do none of the outlets in the back half of the apartment work, neither does the oven. Or the washing machine.


LD will assure me she schedule an electrician to fix it. The electrician will not show up for the first scheduled appointment. The electrician will not show up for the second scheduled appointment. The electrician will show up at the third scheduled appointment but he will not be able to do anything because he doesn’t have the parts he needs and it is lunchtime AND a Monday to boot, so everything is closed. He will assure me that (say it with me boys and girls) he will come back…tomorrow.