Snow and Car Update
So let’s see…what was the last I wrote here about the snow and the continuing saga of the car?
Well I took the car to have its fuel injectors replaced on Monday, January 30, picking up a rental car from the dealership. Our car was to be fixed by Friday. But then on Tuesday and Wednesday it snowed. On Thursday I talked with Nicola of the car dealership. The parts were ordered. The car would be ready on Tuesday. Okay, no matter, even though I had parked the rental car near the road I couldn’t possibly hack through the large wall of snow that the plow had pushed up to get the car out. The road is perfectly clear but I just can’t make it the last 100 feet.
Then Saturday and another one of our young Italian guardians, Alessio, arrives to plow the drive and check on us. (see earlier post) Strangely, Alessio and Nicola know each other. They play rugby together. Now these are guys who did not go to school together and who live 30 miles or so apart, one of them living in a city of 100,000 and the other living on a farm. But they know each other and both seem committed to rescuing us. Alessio plows and leaves. I am excited. I will get to leave the house and go to the grocery store. I take a bag of trash to the car and pop in to start it. Only a dream…the car starting. Almost enough to make me cry, I mean how much more am I supposed to take? I leave the bag of trash in the car. It’s cold and I really don’t want to carry it back to the house. I climb the stair master or what is also known as our driveway full of snow (even though it has been plowed) back to the house and send an email to Nicola. I don’t expect him to do anything about it then, but I know that he will see it first thing on Monday.
And so he does. “Marta, what is wrong with da car?” Nicola asks in his, still to me, charming Italian English. “Boh! Nicola, how can I know? Maybe the battery?” (I have discovered that using Italian syntax even when speaking English makes it easier for me to be understood) Nicola arranges to come later in the day with a battery jumper and then maybe I can go to Arezzo and maybe my car will be ready. (lots of maybes in there) The appointed hour and Nicola arrives. I meet him at the foot of the drive carrying another bag of garbage which I sling into the car. Ben and Nerone are hanging out the bedroom window watching all this. Nicola tries to start the car and figures it is not the battery, instead the diesel fuel is frozen. He is not going back to Arezzo, where my car is, so we arrange that he will come tomorrow with a truck to tow the rental in and I can ride along to pick up our car which will be ready by then. At this point I realize that there are 2 bags of trash in the car, one of which has been sitting in the sun in the car and ask Nicola to take them, explaining where the trash bin is on the highway. He lives in the city and gets trash picked up at his door, but now here he is having to take out the trash for us. Ben says when I get back in the house, “I can’t believe you made him take the trash!”, as if I have asked Prince William to do this. What was I supposed to do, leave it in the car to bake another day in the sun?
The next day, Tuesday, Nicola arrives driving the tow truck. Normally Nicola works at a desk. I think he does something like commercial sales. He has a nice office and desk, a degree and after all he is the son/grandson of the owners. From meeting his parents and talking with Nicola I am assuming that when he was growing up he worked at the car dealership. But still here he is standing at the foot of the drive with just the smallest bit of hesitancy and uncertainty. This is the situation.
The car has to go down about 30 feet of snowy, icy drive and turn slightly before it will reach the skinny ramps of the tow truck and can be winched up. To the right of the car, which you can’t see, is a 6 foot drop-off. The situation is challenging to say the least and of course the wind is blowing and it is cold as the dickens. I know if I was Nicola I would be seriously asking myself ‘why did I ever get involved with these people?’
In true Italian spirit Nicola forges ahead. He really wants me to go get in the cab of the truck where it is warm. But I don’t want to miss the show. I mean this is the most excitement I have had in days. Live action adventure at the foot of my drive, lots of possibilities for disaster, and it is not my car that is involved and the ‘owner’ of the car is doing it so how can I miss this. There is a remote for the winch of the tow truck. Nicola hooks up the car, climbs in to steer and …
gets the car on the bed of the tow truck. He jumps out (and I am sorry that I had put my camera up) and jumps for joy and pumps his fist at having accomplished this. He stows the ramps and urges me to get in cab of the truck. But I can’t because the passenger side of the truck is by the drop-off and I would have to hover to be able to get in. Realizing this he says, ‘I will pull the truck forward.’ I am standing behind the tow truck as he moves it and watch in horror as the car on the flat bed of the truck starts rolling around. Nicola stops the truck and says, ‘maybe I should put the brake on the car..’ Finally the car is secure, I am in the truck too and we start off.
It is very possible that Nicola will read this and what follows is not, not, not a criticism but more of a recounting from an American point of view. Any experience of riding in a vehicle when you are not driving is different from the driver’s point of view. It is a different perspective. That is all. Not a criticism.
So we roar off. Going probably as fast as I would go in my car, rather than perhaps a little slower than a tow truck carrying a pretty much unsecured car on the back should be going around the curves of the road. We zip past Il Cacciatore, where the Menchetti guy is standing in the middle of the street pulling bread out of his truck. He appears somewhat startled. Zoom over the snow covered part of the road. Ahead of us I see a convertible VW pull out in front of us, going rather slowly. It disappears from view around the curve. We go around the curve and of course it is almost stopped in front of us. Nicola curses, then immediately apologizes to me and swerves to avoid hitting the car. Now while all of this is going on, Nicola and I have been having a lively discussion about the snow in Rome. Rather Nicola is discussing and I am listening. Like most Italians all that is needed is the suggestion of a topic and they are off. And like most Italians, hands must be used while talking. Nicola’s view of the snow in Rome is about the same as a view expressed by someone from New York talking about snow in the south of the US. ‘Oh, they don’t know what to do with it. They don’t have equipment to handle it. They are paralyzed by an inch. Everyone runs to the grocery store and stocks up like they will be trapped for weeks.’ From that we move on to his weekend spent with his lovely wife skiing in the northern part of Italy. ‘It was an easy drive. No one was on the roads. It only took 5 hours to get there.’ Then, of course, a phone call. ‘Yes, yes, yes I got the car on. No problem! Yes, yes, yes we are on the way. Yes, yes I know it is almost lunch time but we will be there shortly.’ At this point we are flying through Monte San Savino with the usual groups standing in the roadway and the dogs wandering loose. But we manage to avoid them. Nicola gets at least 1 hand back on the wheel and we are on the highway to Arezzo.
Our conversation moves on to how I can keep the diesel in our car from freezing. (There is an additive) Nicola explains that ‘up until about 20 years ago when the car froze like this, you could build a fire under it to thaw it out.’ I picture 100 ways that scenario could go bad and remember a discussion I had recently with Alessio about an old way of warming beds involving using a skillet like pan with a long handle and an filigreed top to pass burning coals in between the sheets. I guess flirtation with danger is an Italian gene that I did not inherit. And, aside from the normal tailgating, where I could see the moles on the back of the neck of the driver in the car in front of us, the rest of the drive is fairly calm, except for the moment when I realize we are going 60 miles an hour and Nicola has no hands on the steering wheel because he is gesturing and that is when his phone rings again. But we do arrive in Arezzo at the dealership. Our car has been spending a pampered few days in a heated garage. No snow to clean off of it. And I am off to the Esselunga to spend 150 Euros on groceries because it is supposed to snow again and we might be stuck in the house for weeks.
And indeed the forecast called for snow the last 3 days of the week. But that snow came from the east and just didn’t make it to us (OH BOO HOO, I am soooo upset). But the wind kindly rearranges our snow each day so that it all looks pretty fresh and there is no chance that Ben can get out of the house and no chance that I can get the car up to the house. The car remains at the foot of the drive and the 12 pack of 2 liter bottles of San Miguel beer remain in the car along with other things. Only food and wine got carried up. I found the additive and Nerone and I go down each day to start the car.
Each day, Nerone is more than disappointed that the snow is still around. But I finally cleared a place on the terrace for him to sit and ‘work’ at guarding the house which he does for a little while before coming in to be bored in the house with us.
So that is the update. Now a full 2 weeks after the first flake fell we are just hanging out, waiting for it to get above freezing, waiting for all this snow to melt, waiting until I have no other choice and really do have to go to the grocery again. And thinking that those folks who winter in Florida might have a good idea. But maybe I do have the Italian gene for flirting with danger and like the idea of a little uncertainty living here in Italy, just not when I end up being cold.