Maybe writing this post while fuelled up with frustration is not such a good idea but is very true and honest regarding the current feeling about Italy, south-west Italy to be more precise.
Italy is one of those countries we have visited before and that we fell in love with, but since we arrived this time, Italy has shown us, little love, it’s showing us a different “face”, an ugly face. This time when we visited the cities on the south-west coast we had a different vibe than when we visited the big cities previously in the north. This time we were really affected by the dirtiness of them (don’t confuse with the old buildings and historical nature of the towns), the dirty stinky smell of urine and rotting matter everywhere and the way people seem to be always ready to rip you off.
While on the little islands that spread from Elba to Sicily we didn’t have any of these feelings, the islands are just stunning and beautiful. Little paradises.
It’s not just us, other people we’ve met along the way in occasions share the same feeling at times.
The examples are multiple and sometimes when thinking about it retrospectively we may think we have given too much importance to that moment but the reality is that when those moments become the norm and not the exception we feel attacked by the nature of your surroundings, despite all the good that surrounds us.
Being in the supermarket that has a free delivery service and the moment we finish paying our shopping someone comes all nice asking if we want it to be delivered (implying the supermarket delivery service) but the moment they start pushing the trolley towards the door instead of the central/information counter we notice they’re not wearing a uniform so we asked about the service and the guy replies that we are supposed to go with him in the car... so then we ask about the free service and the guy gets all wrapped up and upset with us because God forbids we don’t want to pay him (who knows how much) for a service we are entitled for free or to go in a car with a total stranger. The supermarket staff sees it happening inside their facilities and are complacent with the fact... it is strange this would not be allowed in all the other countries we’ve been before.
Or being charged 15€ by TIM the local telecom provider to activate a SIM card (we thought different county different rules and accepted) and then the following month being charged also by TIM another 5€ for not requested or subscribed services and then the following month after having requested to change plan and paying the 10€ fee getting nothing because they took our money but not activated the right plan and now only paying another 10€ we can get mobile services again. In less than 3 months we threw 30€ to the wind just because... TIM, of course, accepts no responsibility for their own actions or their staffs' actions.
More and more the experience with the mobile phone carriers in Europe is proving to be like dealing with the little Mafia, a disappointment at a high cost!
Let’s not even talk about the Ormeggiatori (little marinas) these known amongst foreigners as the real little mafias due to their unwritten prices and deals...10 euros to park a dingy for an hour.
All these situations and other small episodes really leave us with a bitter taste in our mouths despite the fact that we actually love Italy, their food, their architecture, their culture and even their way of being, but I guess when you spend more than just a week vacation and do what it’s almost a normal day to day life the other side of the same coin shows up and then exacerbates all the other details we dislike about the city and people.
As full-time sailors we fast adapt to see the hidden gems of different places and then we are no longer so used to the details of real life and we get stung by reality.