I wish I had a funny story, an interesting story or even a horror story to tell about signing the lease and turning on the utilities in our new apartment, but hands down this was the easiest part of the move (that is of course except for the internet).
When we rented our Posillipo apartment we had an agent/translator, a translated lease and only had to deal with the electric and phone/internet. This time around we were doing a private contract and everything else on our own and I feared the worse. Was my Italian strong enough to understand the lease, negotiate with the landlord and navigate the Neapolitan utility companies?
A few days before we were to sign the lease I received a copy and sat down to read it. My Italian clearly needs some remediation but I understood the intro paragraph perfectly. The “declaration of a good understanding of the Italian language especially pertaining to the contents of the contract” gave me a moment’s pause. Not to worry though, the husband would be signing the lease, not me!
Armed with our old lease and Word Reference up on my laptop I continued on. After the first pass through the six page document it was about as clear as mud. The second time through however, I had a good understanding of what he’d be signing.
There was nothing surprising or out of the ordinary. It included the obvious articles describing the property, its intended use, the condition it must be returned in, and the lease terms. In our case, the lease is what is known as a free market contract – a contratto a libero mercato. This is a four-year lease renewable for an additional four years and it includes an annual cost of living increase. The contract also included provisions for maintaining the property, which in Italy means pretty much all of the maintenance falls to the tenant.
A few days later we met with our new landlord at her son’s (a lawyer) office. The husband and I, who combined probably read, write and speak Italian at about an 8th grade level sitting across the desk from a Neapolitan lawyer and a woman who has been renting 20 or 30 properties in Naples for as many years.
Not to sound too repetitive, but OMG what were we thinking?
In classic Neapolitan fashion however we received a warm greeting at the door, were served caffè and were put immediately at ease. I should have expected nothing less.
We got down to business and within an hour we were out the door with keys in hand. Next up, the utilities. Visions of tiny, crowded offices and four-hour waits ran through my head and another wave of panic set in. I procrastinated, I drug my feet and made excuses to the husband. I was 100% positive I was going to make a mess of things. As we neared our first move in date of mid November I had yet to contact any of the utility companies. Time was running out and I started to think I’d be moving into an apartment with no electric, water or heat.
But Naples (as always) surprised me in a big way and the process couldn’t have been any easier or more straightforward. Well almost! Because we already had an ENEL contract we could add the new apartment to our account online. That is of course once we understood that we had to enter the previous tenant’s client number, something that took me, the husband and a handful of Neapolitans to figure out (and I don’t mind bragging – I was the one who figured it out). ARIN, the water company and ENI the gas company were also pleasant surprises. We had no problem finding their offices, had no issues and didn’t even have to wait in line. The customer service agents were extremely helpful and patient with our Italian and bonus – ENI offered the contract we needed to maintain the water heater. On top of that, both the water and gas were transferred that day. All we needed to do was turn on the mains (turns out they don’t actually turn off the water or gas).
Last of the utilities was the phone and internet which is a saga for another day. Suffice it to say, that while the phone transferred on the 28th of December, I wouldn’t get the internet straightened out until the 18th of January. A true test of my patience if there ever was one.
Now the rest of the move was in my hands. I had about twenty days to find a mover, design, order and get the kitchen installed, design the rest of the apartment, and figure out what we would keep and sell the rest. Stay tuned to see how well that went!
If you are just tuning in, you can read the rest of the saga at Moving from Posillipo to Chiaia.