We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lots of new Venetian Experiences

I left off blogging after announcing that we had been approved for the new apartment. So much has happened since I hardly know where to begin. Plenty of highs, only a couple of lows. But best of all, I can tell you that I think we have fallen in love with Venice all over again. What a great way to kick off the beginning of Year # 5 here (beginning of January will be our 5th anniversary.

So, to pick up where I left off-  about 2 weeks after we were approved, we met with the landlords at the real estate office in Campo Santa Margherita.  The landlords are a sister and brother, both who live in Mestre. Their grandfather, who was a builder, actually built the entire building our apartment is in, and he lived in our apartment at one time. We met the sister, Daniela, when we first viewed the apartment. This would be our first time meeting her brother, Fabio.  We had been warned by the agent, GianLuigi, that the brother was no-nonsense and quite strict, but fair.  Our Venetian friend, Caterina, was also present in case there was any Italian legal-ese we wouldn't have understood.  All of this was new territory for us. We did not use an agent for our first apartment, everything was done via email between the landlord and us. This time around was quite different.

GianLuigi introduced all of us, then began the lease signing process, which entailed projecting the lease document up on the wall on a huge monitor, and reading through every bit of it line by line, hour after hour!  It took ages, but was necessary as there were some corrections to be made along the way. When we got to the paragraph that  said we ( the tenants) could paint and make modifications to the apartment, however modifications had to be approved by the landlord. Painting was ok without special permission. At this point, Fabio , who indeed had been all no-nonsense as described to us, stops the proceedings and says " If anyone touches the ceiling in the soggiorno, I will kill ".   My response was, "I will kill too!".  The ceiling in the soggiorno was painted with clouds, flowers, birds, something his grandfather had a painter do many years ago- it's certainly unusual. Fabio seemed happy with my comment, we noticed he smiled for the rest of the meeting. He even invited us for a celebratory prosecco afterwards. He also agreed to give us the keys a month early so we could paint and clean before  the move- in date , November 1.

Next step was to make arrangement for a new kitchen to be installed. This apartment was what they call Vuoto- empty. It had no kitchen and no electrical fixtures.  The kitchen was 4 walls, a water hookup and a gas line. That's it (see below).

We made a trip to Marghera to the SME store to see their kitchens, and also checked out Ikea in Padova. We decided to buy the kitchen from Ikea, but first arranged to have someone come take detailed measurements. Ikea charged 85 Euros for this service, which is returned to you if you go ahead and buy the kitchen from them.

We very quickly learned the Italian words for wall cabinet, base cabinet, cabinet doors, handles, dishwasher, exhaust fan and counter top.  In addition we had to navigate the terminology for things like pull out drawers and a host of accessories. We met with an Ikea kitchen designer, worked out the plan, purchased the whole kit and kaboodle and made arrangements for delivery and installation. After 3 trips to Padua , and a few follow-up phone calls, everything was in place. (Note to anyone wanting to buy a kitchen from Ikea in Italy- their phone menu system could kill you. Take a few advanced Italian courses before you try dialing them)

On October 8 our kitchen arrived by boat, in about a hundred different cardboard boxes. Four guys from Ikea hauled all the stuff up to our apartment, arranged it all in very specific piles then disappeared. They went off on a coffee break!  Two guys returned, and two and a half hours later our kitchen was installed.

Voila- instant kitchen. Well, almost. They install everything, but they do not hook up water or gas. Mike managed to figure out how to do those things, with only one trip to the hardware store.  We opted for a very simple layout, which works just fine for us. The kitchen is large, with enough space for a table and chairs on the opposite wall, and two doorways that open out onto a wrap around balcony, where we have the beginnings of an herb garden already.

All I can say is, thank god we have gotten through the kitchen  installation. The whole deciding/buying process was a real education for us. Trial by fire I should say.

One cucina, ready to go!  Next on the agenda- painting!!

1 comment:

Dianne said...

Karen, Your new kitchen is beautiful. Isn't the European way of taking their fixtures and appliances with them a pain in the you know what. We managed to escape this on both our sojourns in Europe by luckily finding an apartment in Paris and a house in Luxembourg that we liked that had the stuff in them. I am sure we paid more for the privilege rent wise because of the equipped kitchens.
Enjoy your new space, the balcony and herb garden.