The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good

The pace of life is a lot slower for us right now. The coronavirus restrictions force us to limit our activities outside of the house. We have been able to use this time to slowly settle into Lucca and our apartment. I feel more rested, peaceful, and content than I can ever remember. Because we are in a completely new environment, it has not been difficult to create new patterns and habits that align with the restrictions.

Other good stuff:

  • Our local church has been meeting online. It’s a very small church and their services are very interactive. So, no Facebook Live streaming for this crowd! We use Zoom. The first 15 minutes are spent saying “Buongiorno” or “Ciao!” to each other. Then the service starts. Various people participate in the service itself. Very cool to see the real sense of community of this church. Jim and I sit with Google Translate open and try to follow the gist of the service. And read the sermon notes afterwards. 😊
  • Jim has discovered two wonderful places to buy wine. Jim visits Ricardo at Vineria Dolce Vita, a great place to buy local and everyday Tuscan wines, and many local food specialties. And Jim visits Pasquale at his restaurant (which is closed) to buy older Italian wines. Both of these businesses have lost most of their income stream so Jim is “helping” by purchasing their wine. 😊
  • Jim and I have been enjoying cooking and eating the wonderful fresh and local food. Artichokes are in season now. Tonight I’m making an Artichoke, Sausage & Goat Cheese Egg Pie. I have all of the ingredients needed except the “soft goat cheese”. I have one more store to check; if not, I’ll use a different kind of cheese. And I bought lots of fresh artichokes for it.  😊
  • We love our apartment. There is a lot of light and plenty of space. There are more than 100 steps to reach it, but there is also an elevator. I’ve been going up the steps at least once per day. No TV yet, but we spend the evenings doing puzzles and playing cribbage or Scopa. A TV is supposed to be delivered on Monday! 😊

The Bad

Our bank! I wrote in my November blog post about how difficult and different it was to open our bank account. Well… that was only the beginning! Upon arrival in Lucca, we got out our debit cards, memorized our PINs and were very pleased that they worked without a problem. Our apartment had furniture but not much else, so we had a lot of shopping to do! The first few days in shops in Lucca, then set up our Amazon account.

After a few days, I decided I better check the status of our account online. I couldn’t get into it and soon locked up my account. The only way to unlock it was to visit the bank. I did so and they unblocked it. I tried a few more times then locked it again. Back to the bank branch… I was taken to the man who set up our account. He wouldn’t let me in his office and told me not to come to the branch again (while the coronavirus restrictions were still in place). I should just send him an email if I had any problems. He unlocked my account again and gave me a phone number to call to get the correct PIN; apparently, I was using the wrong PIN. I called the number four times. Getting through the phone menu is tough when you can’t understand the messages. When I did talk to a person, first my identity had to be validated. I got through that once. I explained my problem with a mix of Italian/English, she tried to fix the problem then suggested I call back the next day. What???

Then the next surprise – our cards stopped working and our Amazon account got closed down. Why??? Turns out that we have a 4000 € per month for certain kind of transactions. We guessed that we hit the limit, but couldn’t confirm because I still couldn’t access the account online. I sent an email to my “friend” at the branch explaining my failures at calling the bank and asking about the limit. Friday someone from the bank called who spoke pretty good English. Turns out that their security app was messed up for my account. She got me online. Our limit was increased to 5000 € per month but we are still trying to figure out which kinds of transactions that it applies to.

And our Amazon account is still closed down. Yep, we tried adding a US credit card. Yep, we tried setting up another account. Yep, we tried to use the chat capability. Nope, none of these worked.

During the times of frustration with the bank, I looked around for a different bank. I didn’t find one that would be better, so we are sticking with this bank (for now).

Next, I could tell you the saga of getting the required trash card or how it took three weeks and four visits by the internet technician to establish our connection, but I won’t…

The Ugly

Italy is a beautiful country. Lucca is a beautiful city. Really… what could be ugly here? But… if you look out one of our windows of our wonderful altana, you see a building that can only be characterized as “ugly”. The front of it is on Via Fillungo, the main walking street of Lucca. The front is beautiful, but the roof and side are ugly. I’ve included a picture just so that I was able to use this title for this blog posting.  However, we really don’t spend much time look at that building because if you look up you see two amazing towers with mountains in the background. Ahhhhh…

Stay home and stay healthy! #andràtuttobene