Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Renting a house in Sicily

Renting a house in Sicily involves a new set of laws, rules, and customs, just like Germany. Here, security is a BIG thing. My new house has a super-duper alarm system that I’m sure I will manage to set off a few times. My landlord works for or owns the alarm company, so it’s the best one can buy. Basically, there are sensors in the doors and in every room. If anyone were to open a door or come into a room, a VERY loud alarm goes off in the house and also at the police station and alarm company. I have to remember to set it every time I leave and come back. There are also double-paned, ultra-strong windows. Some of my friends have houses with bullet-proof windows, not to necessarily deflect bullets, but to make it hard to break in. There is a problem with home theft here, but not with violent crime. Burglars will not come in if anyone is home or a light is on. My house also has shutters that close and lock from the inside. Besides the front door, the other four doors do not open from the outside. To enter my yard, one has to go through two sets of locked gates which I control from a system inside the house. It will take a while to get used to all of this “safety.” The heating system is also very different. I will have bottled gas to heat water, heat the house, and run the stove. The gas is stored in a “bombola,” or tank outside the house. I have to have it filled soon, but there is some in there now. There are radiators in every room. I understand that I can also get a clothes dryer to run on bombola gas. Apparently there are occasional water shortages in Sicily. It sure doesn’t rain much. Every landlord of an American renter has to provide extra storage tanks of water in case of shortage. If the water pressure gets low in the house, the tanks are supposed to kick in automatically. The telephone has to be installed. This is a big expense (like Germany) and it’s not possible to have more than one phone, or move it, etc. Archaic. I can get Internet connection at the same time. Here's a funny thing--the electricity meter is in a box at the end of the driveway near the street. That way, the meter reader doesn't have to come in to read it! Not a bad idea. The house has an antenna but not a satellite dish at the present time. Don’t know if I’ll want one, as I rarely watch or want TV. My yard has lots of nice bushes and trees in it, but one large section is nothing but black lava sand. Nothing much grows in it, but I was told I can TRY. We’ll see about that. The rent is due on the 10th of every month. The mail is unsafe and unpredictable, so it will have to be done in cash, by hand, or I have to get an Italian account and put money in it, or we’ll figure something else out. This is unlike Germany, where everything was done automatically and electronically. Lots to get used to, but now I’m excited about getting my stuff and getting it moved in! FRIDAY!


At September 10, 2004 1:40 AM, Blogger Leo said...

Hi MaryEllen,

I left a comment about a week ago but Blogger was acting up and I think perhaps you didn't see it.

I correct the English on a blog written by a Sicilian who returns the favor by correcting my Italian. I found your blog by chance when I clicked on Sicily in his profile to see who else on the island had blogs.

I have been seriously studying Italian for about a year and finally I am starting to feel comfortable reading and writing it. Speaking it is an entirely different story since I don't get any face to face practice. Anyways, I could write a book, at this point, full of advice for anyone wanting to learn Italian. The only thing I will say at this point unless you ask is that Sicilian is NOT Italian. If you learn Sicilian, if only the accent, it is likely that someone from Milano won't have a clue as to what you are saying, and vice versa. The solution is to learn Standard Italian as is spoken on RAI.

In bocca al lupo,


When Blogger acts up and trashes your posts, you need to "republish entire blog". Easiest way to do this is to make an empty post, and after you click "post" you should get a screen with two buttons. Guess which one you want to click. :-) An hour or so later, if not immediately, everything should be better. Ciao!

At September 15, 2004 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your new pad is georgeous!!!!

At September 15, 2004 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At September 24, 2004 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why on earth did my husband's ancestors leave Sicily for San Mateo???????????

(unemployment? no opportunities?Blight?crop failure?)It was l908.......


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