Finding a Place to Call Home
So as we began the mission of finding a place to live, I think we both felt relatively confident in our abilities to find a house that would meet our family’s needs. What we probably didn’t anticipate is the Italian realtor’s world that is securely based in the “you scratch my back, I scratch yours philosophy”. this means that they have a very established network of home owners, mechanics, hotel owners, etc. that work together to provide all the services that you could ever need as you begin your adventure of living in Naples, Italy. There are sections of neighborhoods that are off limits in Naples for military personnel since it was discovered that it was wrapped into the Italian Mafia. These are the kinds of things that you never thought you would have to take into consideration before choosing a house, the things we as Americans take for granted when either buying or even renting a place.
First, an unfurnished place is exactly that, there are no appliances, no light fixtures, and most remarkably no toliet seats. Yes, you read that correctly. No toliet seats. So picture your toliet. Now think of the tank or the part where the little flusher lever can be found. The tank is high up on the wall and the “lever” you are used to is simply a push button on the wall. Now lets move to the toliet bowl itself. You are used to lifting a lid, and if you are boy lifting a second toliet seat cover, right? Well, I don’t know if I can speak for all of Europe, because I don’t remember running into this issue in Spain, but in Italy it is very common for the toliet bowl, to be just that. So the realtor explained, “Toliet lids are certainly something you can ask the landlord to install if you’d like.” We thought, “Okaaay, well, that’s new”. The other thing is, you know those over the toliet shelving units that we have in the States? They don’t exactly work here, as I described the tank is much higher on the wall and there would be a great big gap just above the toliet bowl. The next “new thing” that is standard in any European bathroom, is the bidet. Wikipedia aptly describes this as, “primarily used to wash and clean the genitalia, perineum, inner buttocks, and anus. They may also be used to clean any other part of the body; they are very convenient for cleaning shaven heads, for example. Despite appearing similar to a toilet, it would be more accurate to compare it to the washbasin or bathtub. Bidets once served as a practical way for couples to prepare themselves before sex, as well as to rinse themselves afterward.
It is generally understood that the user should sit on a bidet facing the tap and nozzle for washing the genitalia, and should sit with back to the tap and wall when washing the anus and buttocks. For a thorough cleaning, the user should use a hand to scrub the area with soap after wetting, then rinse. A dedicated towel or wipe is often available for drying.
Now, the size of european appliances are much smaller than that of American appliances. There are many reasons for that. One, electricity is very expensive in Europe, so the bigger the appliance the more electricity being used. Second, Europeans tend not to bulk shop the way Americans do. They go to the market for the food they will need for the day and so they don’t need alot of space in their fridge. That will take some getting used to but the advantage is interacting with all the different people at each stop when you go to get your milk, or your vegetables, or your bread, which of course are three different places.
Now here are the cool things that you can come to expect to find in the Italian homes that we looked at, everybody gets a balcony or a patio! This is exciting because we want to be able to do some grilling and relaxing outside. Lots of marble which is just stunning in these houses! Tile floors look amazing and also give us the opportunity to do a little rug shopping. Some places have amazing stonework and marble on their front porches.
And so we began our search, we found a couple of fantastic houses and a couple of not so great places. Then, we found it…our little slice of paradise. We are super excited! It has amazing stone work design all over the patio area that surrounds the whole side and back of the house. It has a two car garage, plenty of storage, 4 bedrooms and a small 5th one that can be used for an office. It has absolutely gorgeous marble steps throughout. The master bathroom has a jacuzzi tub and towel warmer! The house even has ceiling fan lights, which as I explained, is not common. It comes with a dishwasher and a stove and the the bus picks the munchkin up for school just out in front of the house. There is a carabinieri officer just across the street. The Carabinieri polices both the military and civilian population. Almost a cross between military police and customs and border patrol. There’s an Italian restaurant just a couple doors down. Now the way the rest of the appliances work is like this: The Navy provides loaner appliances for the duration of our stay that will include the missing refrigerator. Since we will not have our furniture for a couple of months (yes, my friends we hope to get our car sometime the first week of July and that is being overly optimistic, but our household goods which includes our furniture will hopefully make it to us before September) we are eligible to get loaner beds, couches, etc. until our stuff arrives.
So our next stop is the housing office to sign a lease and get an inspection scheduled. Military personnel must have their houses pass inspection to ensure they meet standards that we haven’t even thought of. One of the examples is bottled water, landlords are required to provide bottled water either through a water service or by a reduction in rent so that the tenant can purchase bottled water. Once we have passed inspection, we can start the process of hooking up utilities and internet and moving in which is probably a couple weeks off.