For four years each summer we have looked up at the lights shining at a group of Trulli owned by a French couple and they in turn have looked down at our lights. However as our French is non existent and their English equally so that is as close as we have ever come to them.
However last night they invited all the French that live in our area during the summer and we were made honorary French for a night. The secret however was that the other 20 odd French people there all spoke fantastic English and unlike you always hear about the French they were delighted to chat in it.
I knew there were very few if any Brits in this area but had no idea that the French were here in such force. It seems they all came because of one Italian couple who live in Milan but have a summer house near us. He was a diplomat and when based in France in the 70’s met and befriended these French families. In the early noughties he sent details of various properties for sale down here to those families and the majority bought on his recommendation. So from Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and Geneva they drive south for their summer holiday.
Conversation of course turned to living in Puglia and things like the price of petrol and the fact that even in August most petrol stations take a 3-5 hour break in the afternoon. I guess if you ever wanted to know if they were making plenty of money per litre this idea that during the busiest period of the year they still shut down kind of proves it.
To be fair most of them now have a self service machine that stands nearby and into which you feed €5, €10, or €20 notes. Almost all of them turn off the credit card and bank card systems as they only want cash.
Now regulars will remember that from April thru July there was a gang targeting ATM machines. They arrived, blew them out of the wall and drove away with them to open in their own time. Well the police have never caught them and today in the paper it seems the same gang has changed to a far easier target that in August is brimming with cash. Yup the self service machine in the garage.
Same deal drive up , blow the foundations to smithereens and then toss the machine in the back of the car. But first they steal all the security cameras as well ! The police or the few that aren’t on their own August holiday were still staking out ATM machines each Friday and Saturday as that was when the lads were hitting them . Clever boys have changed the day now to Thursday nights and do a couple of them to tide them over for the week.
Maybe now the petrol stations will turn the credit card functions back on and declare the sale to the taxman. But maybe not as in August the police raided 1,400 petrol stations in Southern Italy and have prosecuted 20% of them for offenses such as watering the fuel (by up to 15% apparently ), rigging the litre counter to show more fuel than is actually going into the tank and the simple one of displaying one price out front and another one on the petrol pump.