Living in the heart of the peaceful and beautiful Apennine Mountains in Northern Italy forms how your daily life works. It is a great leveller for those who rush around in the valleys below and in the cities when they come up here. Its the summer here and the valley is normally 8 degrees warmer than at home so averaging around 29 degrees here daily. The crops here are all grass cut to feed the cows to get the milk to make Parmesan cheese. A truly beautiful place until you want to get something done!!
Lets start with the shops. Italy starts early, usually most businesses are open at 07.30 and its great for early risers. That is where the convenience stops. In the hills everything closes at 12.30 for 4 hours, but does it? Our bank for instance opens at 8.20 and closes at 12.20 and is not open on Thursday afternoon but is open on Saturday morning. The Vet is open fairly reliably every afternoon but not Thursday, the butcher is open from 07.30 to 12.20 Tuesday to Sunday and no other time. Each village still has a half day closing day and they are all different and they also have a market day which corresponds with everything closing in that town in the afternoon. Once you have that all in your head, a recent phenomena, is one supermarket which is tiny, but newly built, is open 7 days a week and all day!! it is always nicely busy and has lovely helpful staff. Who knew that would work??
Ordering deliveries has all the hallmarks of a comedy sketch show and even for the big ones like Amazon, disarray is the order of the day. For a prime time delivery they very proudly announce that we will get our delivery within the next week. We have found out why. There are two companies that come up from the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia and they come on Monday and Thursday, at their convenience!! Their service is so unreliable they have apology letters and cancellation letters that they send out on the delivery day, automatically, because they know their hit rates up here are very low. You can be enjoying the home delivery from British Corner Shop and be interrupted by an email saying unfortunately your order has been sent back to the sender, when it quite obviously has not.
The pace of life is slow here and sadly it starts to show when you need modern conveniences for electric cars or bikes etc, or internet that works, even when it rains. Ferrari test their cars around our windy lanes and its great to hear them in the valley. Although we won't hear the cars when they start testing all electric cars up hear, you will hear the screams of drivers with flat batteries abandoned on the roads lamenting the appalling infrastructure in place here. There is hope that our useless commune may apply for some of the money set aside for outdated hillside towns in the Covid money from European central bank, but we will see.
So as we head into summer proper in August, we have Ferragosto on the 15th of August. It is traditionally when all businesses used to close for a fortnight and when we got here 8 years ago, it was everything including our local corner shops! That was an eye opener. Our nearest large supermarket is 50 minutes away, but when that becomes your local shop, that is dull!! It is as big a deal here as Christmas, so companies start to wind down usually after the first week starts in August and don't really get started again until the first week in September.
For people doing business here though, I can paint a different picture for you. I have never met a more diligent work ethic. The Italians are taxed ridiculously and relentlessly, but despite that, or maybe because of that, they work very hard and very rarely are you let down by any supplier. The service in August can be slow but if you know this, which is why I am writing this, so you do, a bit of planning can help you around it.
Getting costings done here can be painful and one unfortunate trait, in Italian men especially, is to have your quote mansplained to you when you know what you have asked for, and at great length. We are steering some UK based companies though this process at the moment and I am always looking for short cuts to get them a quick and efficient service. I have some great suppliers here who can turn stuff around quickly and they get favoured obviously, but we are always looking for alternatives to try and capture the growing UK client base for work in Italy. So for all things events and current Brexit help, we can help you navigate this beautiful country, and relay exasperating stories to you over a nice glass of something when you come.
So if you need you cat looking at and need to cash a cheque, because yes, they still do that here, you can't do it in the same town or at the same time, but you can sit in a bar and watch the world go by and watch the locals play cards like their lives depend on it. For everything else, let us know what you need.