There is a truism in Italy that you ignore at your peril. Never, ever fall out with your neighbours . However if you happen to be foreign and your neighbour Italian. Then it is a rule rather than a truism. You might think you have the law on your side but trust me they will always win any dispute in the end. Somehow they come out on top and you rue the day you decided to take them on.
Our neighbours live for 11 months of the year in Taranto but in August they descend on the house having spent some of July getting it habitable again. So we cannot complain. Well not really.
Our neighbours live at the top of the private lane that runs down to our house. They have no gate on the small drive that leads to their own house but there is a gate at the top of the lane where it joins the main road. Down at our end of the lane by the wood some 500 metres away we have a gate the we use to enter our own driveway. So you get the picture
Those actually aren’t the gates in question but you didn’t want me to flog all the way up to the top of the lane to take a picture of the real ones did you ? The ones at the top are double gates and a lot older.
Now Giovanni our neighbour has had the misconceived idea that because these gate are close to his property and we have our own gates in front of ours they are “his” gates. He controls them for one month a year and then hands over ownership to us for 11 months.
The opening and closing of the gates has been almost the only topic of conversation we have had in fact as it seems to dominate his whole reason d’être.
The truism has to stay to the forefront of my mind with every conversation about these wretched gates and when they are to be left open and when they are to be closed. “It’s only for a month or so ” I keep repeating as a mantra after each meeting.
In an effort to get a better understanding last year I called a pow wow to sort out some rules. We agreed he would open them in the morning at 7 a.m. unless I had workmen coming and he would close them at 9 p.m. Great I thought sense at last.
The next day at 2 p.m. up the drive I came to go get the water from the fontana . The gates were closed. Pow Wow 2 agreed that when he was having his siesta it was safer to keep the gates closed in case a thief stole his car. “Get some gates of your own ” I almost said but then remembered the truism. Fine you close them and open them before and after and if I go out during that time, I will close them. Hoorah peace in our time.
Up the lane a few days later at 11 a.m. and the gates were closed. Pow Wow 3 was convened . Ah he said when I go to Taranto to do the shopping and pick up things from the apartment my wife doesn’t like having the gates open as anyone could come down the lane and attack her. “La Maria makes a Russian male weightlifter look sylph like and I can’t think that any thief would dare ………….” but no I remembered the truism and bit my tongue. Okay if the gates are closed and no car is in your driveway I assume you are in Taranto and will open and close them if I go out. Things went swimmingly then until the grandchildren from hell arrived for their two week annihilation of their house . Up the drive I went seeing as I passed that Giovanni’s car was there and guess what ? The gates were closed.
Pow Wow 4 was held. Ah when the dear little things are at the house La Maria doesn’t want them to stray up onto the road so we close them.” Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to think of those little horrors playing on the road …………” but no the truism the truism. Okay I agreed another rule was added to the list.
Up the lane I went the next day, Giovanni’s car was there plus another, the grandchildren were playing in the lane but got out of the way of my now speeding car and at the top the gates were ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Open !!!!!
Pow Wow 5 was held. Ah explained Giovanni we have switched grandchildren ( equally horrific) and these are my son’s brood. He of course is the SON, the Italian male the love of la Maria’s life and mine. He doesn’t do gate opening or closing I go up when he phones to announce his arrival to open and close the gates but if I am not here La Maria can’t get up the lane and so he has to open them himself the poor little mite (my words) but certainly can’t be expected to close them as he is the Italian son. No he sweeps in and will be ignoring all our gate rules. You though Mike if you find the gates not conforming to the agreement please do the necessary .
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH but the bloody truism the ruddy truism. One day one day.