Ah, the joys of general living. Here we are in our apartamentino in Corniglia, relaxing after a day of hiking and swimming and getting read to eat some dinner.
We have been very fortunate to find several small apartments to stay in from time to time. We have found that it is a great pleasure to be able to shop and cook instead of eating in restaurants every night. Some of our apartments have had some wondrous labor-saving devices, as well–sometimes air conditioning (extremely useful in Italy in August), a dishwasher from time to time, or, best of all, a washing machine.
This small apartment is fairly typical of what we have been able to find. It has one bedroom plus more beds in the living room, a bathroom, and a small kitchen.
Although this particular apartment had neither a dishwasher nor a washing machine, it came with several wonderful amenities:
1. A clothesline with clothespins out the window to hang our hand-washed clothes and towels. The sunny location and prevailing gentle (sometimes smoky) breeze ensured that our clothes were dry within hours of being hung. As an added bonus, this feature allowed us to pass ourselves of as locals, and to contribute to the romantic ambiance of a Mediterranean town.
2. An amazing central location, literally steps from the piazza in one direction and the church in the other. Aside from immediate access to the heart of the city, our location gave us front row seats to the soccer game played by the town’s children, which began at 10:30 sharp every night, plus an automatic wake-up call in the form of the ringing church bells, every hour on the hour, a (with a bonus wake up call of about 50 extra rings at 7:00 a.m. ). Apparently Corniglia has a number of hearing-impaired residents, because the church chimes the hour twice, approximately one minute apart. This is an enormous help if you were not sure if you had counted right the first time, which sometimes happens in the wee hours.
3. A wonderful landlady. When we checked in, she carefully counted our Euro for the week, and then immediately gave 10 Euro to the kids so they could buy gelato or something. She also recruited us to assist her in her efforts to evade the law–something we are becoming quite good at. Unfortunately, I could only catch the general gist of how the scheme worked, but I think the essence of it was that she would not turn in her forms reporting our stay to the Carabinieri, thereby keeping us out of the official records (I’m sure this must somehow be a good thing), while allowing her to avoid paying taxes on our rent. At least I think that’s it. Whatever it was, we were happy to participate, since we’re already wanted in two other countries, why not make it three?
4. An old fashioned air conditioning unit, activated by opening the windows on one side of the apartment (pictured) and the door (behind me) at the same time. This highly efficient cooling system kept our apartment at a perfect temperature. And we couldn’t even hear the mechanical buzz and whine that you sometimes get from the air conditioning units we’ve seen, and the unit took up no space in the apartment. In order to keep the apartment at a comfortable temperature, we ran it at half power (i.e., with the windows opened but the door closed) all night, which allowed us to fully enjoy the gentle night noises of the town (see #2 above).