It is always nice to pop out on Easter Sunday almost everyone you meet will wish you auguri . I went to our small supermarket that opens on Sunday morning and bakes bread on the premises on Saturday night. So hot fresh bread to have with lunch. Everyone in the shop was wishing everyone else auguri and I joined in. I am in cheating mode today as well, buying polpette ( Egg, cheese shaped into small balls and then fried ) rather than attempt to make my own. Most Italians eat them in a rich tomato sauce so no real danger of being found out. It is a little like people that insist on a certain brand of scotch and then fill the glass with ginger ale or gin drowned in tonic. So too I hope for store bought polpette.
The supermarket boast a bar as well with a large covered seating area and there is a regular crew of Sunday imbibers who start about 10a.m. on the wine or Campari .I counted six top of the range Mercedes outside so these aren’t your average early morning drinkers though probably many of them are builders of one sort or another.
The thorny subject of Italian builders came up yesterday when I was chatting to an English guy who is going to help me with my first attempt at wall building. He does work for a few Brits down here and was saying how busy he was at the moment. He charges what would be a going rate in the UK for odd jobbing but also owns a digger so can do trenches etc if required. Again he has used UK rates to attract business. I was showing him a trench we had had dug while we were away because alongside it is where my own first ever wall will be built.
The first quote I got for the 10 metre
x 2 metre trench was from a local builder who frequents the supermarket bar. He arrived in the biggest Merc I have ever seen and wandered around the area with no notebook and no measuring stick. Three days later he dropped of the quote €13,850 ! I guess the €850 was to show he had thought about it. The biggest item on the ludicrous quote was for the digger and the man to operate it. €1,000 a day for 6 days.
However in the bar I asked for the going rate and most of the cliental said most digger operators wouldn’t get out of bed for less that €90 an hour to operate a big digger and €45 for a small one. They then charge you for transporting it and for the fuel it uses. For a foreigner around here they charge €500 for a day’s work . My English guy is just 20% of that total. The Italian is also working black so the money goes straight into his pocket.
In our time here we have received all kinds of crazy quotes. Re wiring the whole house bought a plethora of quotes most in the €10,000 to €14,000 range but was eventually done for far far less. They have clearly decided johnny foreigner is either made of money or stupid or indeed both. A phrase I was taught early on to deal with the majority of Italian workmen and their quotes was ” sono inglese ma non sono stupido ‘ I am English but I am not stupid. It has held me in good stead ever since. An English friend was telling me the other day that he phoned a plumber to get him to come around and quote for linking up some pipes for an ensuite he had built. Over the phone the guy said €2,000. but you haven’t seen it yet . No but that is my starting price !
Well I am on pasta making duty today and must get started