Fai Da Te ( Do It Yourself)

Retirement has had one real downside for me and that is DIY or fai da te as it is known here in Puglia. I was never any good at it but with retirement it seems it is expected that somehow one picks it up and instead of a stream of eager workmen through the house it should be the retiree who is drilling, hammering and generally mending stuff. Luckily I am left handed (mancino) and so certain things like a chain saw seem beyond me which I am sure has saved both the Italian medical system and some of my limbs. However I do try to have a go at other stuff and even invested in an electric drill  with which to put stuff on walls etc.

The guy that laid our patio tiles said to me last week that I needed to put some guttering on the side of the woodshed to prevent water pouring down on the new tiles below and ruining them over time. I nodded sagely and agreed not understanding what he was talking about and then dashed in to look up a word I had never heard before grondaia which is guttering. As an aside this is the trouble with all the teach yourself Italian books and courses. They don’t cover the necessary words you need to actually live here. Changing money or asking a hotel clerk if there are any messages  is useless to learn when trying to do DIY.  Now those of you that are like me will know that B&Q or Home Depot or Canadian Tire are pretty scary places if your not well versed in DIY but try being useless and doing it in a foreign lingo.

I went  my local man in Villa Castelli just down the roadFerramenta

having carefully measured the length of the side of the shed at 3 metres. Quite quickly though we were in new territory language wise as it became clear that he didn’t do guttering. However he has always taken pity on me both for my terrible  Italian and my complete lack of knowledge of DIY, indeed his father runs out as I walk into the store and his son is thrust in front of me. The son kindly offered to get what I needed and I could pick it up today. We went through the measurements and I was pleased he clearly understood my fluent tre metri with no need to revert to sign language . What a charming guy.

Today as the thunder clouds gathered I went back to collect my guttering. He waived on my arrival and signaled to his father who had become terribly busy with a piece of paper he had found and they both went into the back. After much cursing father came out and enquired how I was getting it home. Back of the car I said and he looked confused. See you outside he said we will bring it out from the back. On the pavement I watched aghast as the two guys struggled out with an huge piece of single guttering . Sei ( six) metri (12 feet) said the son and I didn’t have the heart to tell him no tre . We put it through the open rear window and placed a flag on the huge piece still extending back down the road. I set off and of course the thunder struck, the clouds opened and through the open window the car inside got soaked. I now have to figure out how to cut the guttering.

When you come to Italy the first time you will see Fai da Te is probably in the petrol station. It is self service and the pricing you saw on the sign that attracted you in is the Fai da Te price. Stray into the full service bit and you will pay lots more. Fill up and head to the office to pay. Down here in Puglia and off the autostrada you will find most petrol places close for the long lunch 1pm till 5pm and there is only Fai Da Te but then you need to use cash and pay at a machine near the pumps before filling up.

Giro d’Italia tomorrow  down on the coast. Wiggo is in 6th after today’s stage.  If you are interested the BBC sports page has a look at all the stages tomorrow is  6 . Now that reminds me of my experience when I had to get guttering ………..


About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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