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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Apartment Hunting

We have spending several mornings a week as well as some time on the weekend looking for a decent apartment but it is really quite difficult. This was supposed to be my job but since very few rental agents speak English, we have to make a joint effort. I know how to ask the basic information, how much does the apartment cost and what are the expenses per month? How many square meters? Is there a balcony or terrace? etc…etc…etc…

Often when Demetrio contacts the agents or the homeowners he is kept on the phone for 20 minutes or more while I pace the streets and try to make out what they are discussing, mostly the conversation goes like this:

“Hello, my name is D’Ambrosi and I am calling about the apartment on Massimo D’Azeglio, or Via Po or Corso Dante.”
“Yes, good day, I was wondering what floor the apartment is on and is there a car space or elevator available in the building.”
“Oh, I am here with my wife.”
“We have just moved here from the US and I am working for Microsoft @ the MiraFiori Building on Corso Orbbassano.”
“Well, we have been here for two weeks and would like to find a place in this certain area.”
“Anyway, I work with computers and got transferred here from Seattle.”
And on and on it goes for about 20+ minutes. After he gets off the phone I ask,
“Why did you have to tell him your whole life story?”

He then explains that business is a social engagement and people are curious about you and your intentions, so the questions fly.

Our intention is to find another furnished temporary apartment to stay in for about 6 months or so until we find a place to buy or rent longer term. I want to get settled right away but closing on a home here in Italy can often take 6 months or more. We have the Microsoft apartment until April 15th or so.

The furnished apartments we have looked at have been small, 750-950 square feet; often the lease contracts are reasonable about 6 months to a year. The unfurnished places are often bigger but need a lot of work. I saw the place of my dreams the first week I was here. It was in the center of town near a small park. It was 1300 square feet, but the space was proportioned wonderfully. There were 2 balconies, one looked out onto the street and the other looked inward towards the center of the building. The ceilings were high; it had cove moldings and large double doors, wood floors, old tile everywhere. There were 2 bathrooms, closet space and 2 bedrooms with an extra space for an office or guest area. I fell in love with the apartment right away and thought it must be very old. The only 2 problems were that one, the owners wanted a 4 year lease contract and two, in Italy when they say the apartment is unfurnished then it has no stove, no fridge, no washer, no kitchen counters, no light fixtures, nothing. I was surprised; the cost was E 1200.00/month, that’s about $1596/month at the current exchange rate.

That was two weeks ago, this morning we looked a cheesily remodeled but very big 2100 square feet apartment for E 1300/month, that was absolutely luminous with wood floors and lots of space, 3 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, a very large balcony and the best part was it faced the Parco Valentino, one of the biggest parks in Turin and is only 2 blocks from where we live now. The molding was not as nice; the kitchen was bigger but a wreck and all in all it needed a ton of work. We both looked and liked many aspects of both apartments but putting a bunch of money into a temporary place is not what we want to do right now.

Not having a place to settle in right away feels very uncomfortable to me because I want to paint, unpack boxes and have some of my own things about. I really dread moving again but if we did it would just be us and a few suitcases. We will have our container unloaded as soon as it gets to Livorno and then the contents stored in a place in Turin. It will be really inconvenient but I suppose every weekend or so, we would go and retrieve essentials.


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