Attila e Arrivato

You have to say that the Italian weather guys have a wry sense of humour. Our leader Renzi jets off to Brussels to do battle with Frau Merkel over Italy’s need for looser financial constraints and the boys in the weather bureau name the cold depression that has arrived from Northern Europe Attila the Hun . Attila of course never did managed to take Rome and the Romans defeated him in a couple of decisive battles. Matteo will be hoping to repeat that feat over the next few days.

” Conversing about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative” so said Oscar Wilde. Mind you he came from Ireland where  it is either about to rain, has rained, or is raining so there ain’t much to talk about anyway.

4C last night in Martina Franca and 11C today feeling like 6C with the wind chill. It is not surprising that British expats in Italy will still get their winter fuel allowance from the UK government. It is also sound advice for would be purchasers of property in Southern Italy to try it in the winter months. This is just October remember. But when the wind comes from the north boy does it get chilly. Bob Dylan’s line from Subterranean Homesick Blues always comes to mind when I am out walking in a northerly wind in Puglia ” You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows “.

I swear there are days when I can smell the reindeer herds up in Lapland on the wind but maybe my neighbour Giovanni’s septic tank just needs cleaning.

When Silvio Berlusconi was leader he tried to revitalise the Italian economy ( since him the unelected leaders have also tried and failed) by changing the zoning law that restricted the size of the house you could build on a plot of land. He wanted to raise the percentage from 3% to 10%  as he felt it would encourage people to build larger homes, extend existing ones or build second homes on the plot they had. The law was ratified by all the provinces bar one dear old Puglia who rejected it. Our local leader was by then too busy selling land to the mafia to build wind and solar plants to worry about changing zoning rules.

To be fair I’m not sure whether it worked elsewhere but it does mean that the countryside has stayed in Puglia almost untouched by bulldozers and cement lorries. The zoning laws are in the main rigorously upheld as are the rules for doing up old trulli though the goal posts do get moved rather frequently. The vexed issue of swimming pools never goes away and despite the good old wheeze of claiming that the pool is just a cisterna ( water tank) with a few sun loungers  and a rather nice patio around it has worked for a few, getting permission for a pool can be problematical in many areas.

The old adage never fall out with your neighbour which is a hard and fast rule in Puglia came to mind a few months ago when I was in the barber’s shop. There was a Brit there who had a large house here. He had bought the place off a drug baron who had fled the country. The drug baron had a certain influence and the water board had run a pipe from the main road to the guys house some 3 kms down the road. No one else down that road had water but the baron’s next door neighbour asked if he might tap into the new water supply with a pipe to his place. The drug baron agreed and a meter was placed before the extension as well as a removable tap on the neighbour’s pipe. . The baron never bothered charging his neighbour for water. I guess when you’re into drugs it is not even chump change is it.

The Brit when he bought the house built a magnificent swimming pool

but forgot to tell anyone about it. A few months later the water bill arrived and as the Brit had filled the pool by truck and had been out of Italy for the entire time he took the bill to his new neighbour and asked for the money. To his surprise the Italian took umbrage at this and refused to pay . He had never been asked before and he wasn’t going to start paying now. The Brit therefore turned off the extension water supply and thought no more of it.

A month or so later up the driveway came the Forestry Police. They had a summons to serve on him for building an illegal pool and a court date. Before that court date came the cement truck to fill the pool in. At the court case he was bound over to keep the peace ( not get so much as a speeding fine) for three years or he would go to jail ( they take these laws seriously here) for a year.

When I saw him in the barber’s shop he was still in a state of shock “I just don’t know who would have told the authorities about my pool ” he said to me as we parted. I think I could take a guess !

What a difference here in Cyprus where it seems any piece of land that a house could have been built on has been and within days of completing one house they would then build a house right in front of it taking away any view the house had. I feel pleased that at least in the countryside around us in Martina Franca they do enforce the rules.

 

 

 

 

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 Thomas Cook. 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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