Tag Archives: living in rome


2 Oct
1 October 2016. What to do with our stuff? Uncle Sam is not paying for this move, although he graciously shipped what little we declared precious-to-us upon our retirement. We did not want to pay for 18 months of storage for things easily replaced so we only shipped only 1100 pounds back to Portland. (For reference, when we moved to Roma, we shipped 11,000 pounds of household goods.) We have no furniture in storage and few household goods. Stored for our return are artwork, Ric’s collectible trains, some family crystal and other memorabilia, a few books. Not much more. We sold a lot of stuff when we moved from the embassy apartment to our own place on Via Ruggero Fauro.
My guardaroba or wardrobe. Much better than a closet.

My guardaroba or wardrobe. Much better than a closet.

We took a few pieces of furniture to our mostly-furnished retirement rental, but nothing worth shipping across the ocean. As most American homes come with closets, our guardarobe (which we LOVE) are unnecessary.
We had hoped to keep a few more things and ship them back, especially two 8’x10′ carpets we love. However, shipping is a very expensive prospect. After receiving a bid on sending back the rugs, clothes, pots and pans, and this-and-that, we decided it would be far more fun to spend that much cash on buying new than sending old. It was a crazy amount of money.
This is the first pass at clearing out. The JNRC will receive it all.

This is the first pass at clearing out. The JNRC will receive it all.

Our landlady will take some furnishings that add value to the apartment for the next tenants (our European T.V., the guardarobe, a desk, lamps). Other items will go to the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center. They will take all the men’s clothes and shoes we can gather, my old and heavy sewing machine, some kitchen gear. Our Peruvian housekeeper is taking women’s clothes which her family in Peru is anxious to have. (This is a thing. Our doctor told us his mother and sister give their clothes to their foreign-born housekeepers, too.) What these sources won’t take will go to Roman recycling: the street, where the pickers will claim it in about 65 seconds. (See Changing House from May 2015.)
We are shipping things one 10-kilo box at a time through Mailboxes, Etc. The cost will be a fraction of that for shipping what we had hoped to send through the transfer company.
We will ship only clothes we love and that fit. We are not packing I-might-use-these tee-shirts or if-I-lose-five-pounds jeans. Only one pair of heels for me as I have worn heels about four times in the past 18 months. No sheets or towels (easily replaceable and pretty old anyway), no 15-year-old flatware, no toiletries except those we need for the trip home. I think Ric is down to owning three pairs of shoes instead of eight. I have a way to go on that front. Thinking about it, when we travel we pack only two pairs of shoes each, three bottoms, five-or-six tops, a couple of layering pieces, and a jacket, yet we manage for up to four weeks on the road. We don’t really need all that stuff in the wardrobe. The challenge is not getting caught up in replacing all of it. I sure could use some new pajamas, though. I haven’t bought new in about two years. I feel a Nordstrom order coming on….

Waterless Weekend

14 Jul
This eroded lion head fountain is the only source of water for our while building of 14 condos. He's over 100 years old.

This eroded lion/hippo/whatever-head fountain is the only source of water for our whole building of 14 condos. He’s over 100 years old.

Living in Rome is a dream; we pinch ourselves almost daily. But for two days, it’s been a bit scomodo (inconvenient). We have had no water in the apartment. We had showers Saturday, but since about 12:30 yesterday, nothing. It seems the pump is out. Apparently the city feeds the property (a condominium building, about 110 years old), and the distribution is via an electric pump underground, accessed through a scary stairway.  The portiere (superintendent) is away for the weekend as he gets half of Saturday and all of Sunday off. And there is no one else to call. No management firm we are made aware of. Ric and I tried to reset the circuit breaker on the pump yesterday, to no avail. But thought we were just being stupid Americans not knowing what to do or who to call in an emergency.  Then today our 80-something-year-old neighbor, Signora Vyta (who may actually have lived in this building her entire life from what I understand), asked us to go with her to the pump and see if we could fix it. She was fed up. She’d called the portiere with no result, no answer, and she wanted to try and fix it. So Signora Vyta oversaw a second attempt telling Ric (in Italian) what to do to reset it and told us this happens a lot. Apparently never when we are at home. Just our luck this time!

Ric makes the umpteenth trip to fill a bucket. We have tons of bottled water on hand, too, because that's what we do in Rome.  And there's always wine.

Ric makes the umpteenth trip to fill a bucket. We have tons of bottled water on hand, too, because that’s what we do in Rome. And there’s always wine.

So how do we function with no water? We haul buckets in from the only functioning source on the property, a tiny little old-fashioned, 100-plus-year-old fountain, now controlled with a spigot. We use gravity to flush, and we went to the Embassy today to shower, a 2-hour round trip. I heated water on the stove to wash dishes, just like camping in the 1960s with my parents.

What’s worse, we had to cancel a dinner party planned for tonight! We’ve decided being without water actually sucks more than an Internet outage.  I only hope Emilio, our portiere, knows where to hit the pump with his magic hammer to get it back online tonight. 

Gravity flush. Just keep a bucket close by.

Gravity flush. Just keep a bucket close by.

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