It is true as well, you wait twenty minutes and then six come along at the same time. Well it was a bit like that this morning at the house. From nothing happening for two weeks because of the weather suddenly the place was full of action.
First the digger turned up to begin to finish off the new septic tank system by linking it to the house sewage pipes .
and then out of the blue a friend arrived to help with the strimming and to start burning the stuff already strimmed.
By June 16th we have to have all the tall grass cleared so it is not a fire risk and that included the cut pieces. So while it is still slightly damp it is best to burn it as it lays on the ground. exciting work when the wind either suddenly gets up or as today changes direction.
Italians down here don’t use water to put fires out in the garden. they break off branches of from the nearest fig tree and use the leaves and branch to beat the flames out. It is amazingly effective and works like a dream.
We had to go to the bank while all this labour was taking place so left the noise and hit Martina Franca.
There is no joy in going to an Italian bank . Customer service is not a word that enters into any of the employees work day and if they can make your day more difficult they will.
The first challenge is to actually get into the bank. All banks in Italy have these amazing security doors. They are thin tubes into which you step and then the curved door behind you closes. You are then scanned for any AK47s you might have on your person or bombs you might have tucked into a pocket.
If the system detects something a voice of an employee of the bank will tell you to exit and use the lockers provided by the doors to deposit whatever it is you have. Normally for most foreigners this is an handbag or any type of package.
Most annoying is when it says no more than one person in the tube at one time and there is only you in there. You shout you are alone but the voice just keeps telling you to exit back outside. Worse is when there is no voice but nor do the doors into the bank open. There you stand like a lemon with the people behind waiting to get in shouting at you and you mouthing through the bullet proof glass that the doors aren’t opening while the people waiting to exit also start at you as well.
Once in you will see lots of bank staff sitting at desks . These are like English bar staff . They are trained not to notice you and will avoid any form of eye contact in case you might want to ask them a question . instead they look busy with their heads down. At the back of the bank is normally the counter where you cash cheques make deposits etc.
The queue is lengthy always and be wary of the little old lady who pushes past you with her ” I only have one question” and then once at the counter does an hours worth of banking.
If you wish to draw money out they will refer you to the ATM outside which is, as always, either broken or more often without cash as nobody in the bank has bothered to fill it up. This you explain and though they have heard it an hundred times that day which is why the queue is there they will ask a colleague if it is true and then make a phone call to find out who else knows.
Begrudgingly they will take your card and process it. Woe betide if you have a foreign card. Basically good luck to you especially if you are in a non tourist area bank or hit a particularly surly person. There is no way the employee is going to believe it will work in their system and numerous colleagues will need to be consulted before you are referred back to one of the people sitting at the desks you passed on the way in.
With luck eventually the desk bound person will manage to get you the cash which you will often have to collect from the counter again.
After an hour or so you will stagger back to the beam me up Scotty type doors and go through the whole process again trying to exit the place and retrieve your bits and pieces you left in the locker.
On very busy days of course it is assumed that no robbers will come and the doors are opened but the bank is so busy that it it isn’t worth trying to get in there.
A trip to the bank is an half day event in Italy unless the ATM is working.
It is also hugely expensive to bank in Italy. Banks here love charges and take money from your account at regular intervals. Leave €100 in a current bank account here and it is gone within a few months and you end up with more charges for being overdrawn.
Everything you do has a charge even owning a credit card costs you €25 a month, yes a month just for the privilege of having one even it you don’t use it and most banks will want to hold money from your account to what ever credit limit your card has on it.
Today the ATM was in action and we had no other stuff to do so an easy day thank god.
It is amazing that these bank people are some of the highest paid people in Italy. Most employees at whatever level receive 15 months salary a year. Guess who pays for such largess. you would hope that there might be a glimmer of help from them but no chance.