Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Il Pranzo

Lunch is so important to the Italians, work stops, shops and businesses close for approximately three hours. I can understand that its a good idea for everything to cease during the heat of the day and start again in the cooler hours and I do appreciate the shops being open until at least 8 pm. I've never been against a long lunch followed by a little snooze, friends visiting us have often asked if they might lie down on the spare bed for a while and we have been known to take up the option when its been offered to us. However, we had a really bad experience when visiting our Italian bank to carry out some complicated bureaucracy that involved us visiting our regional council office, the bank, the council office, the bank again and finally back to the council office. We had got to the fourth stage (bank again) having driven for half a day from a holiday in Abruzzo. The transaction was fairly difficult as forms had to be completed, my husband had gone out to move the car and I was left to make progress. The manager of the bank then came over and told me they were closed, I explained that I had not quite finished at which point he explained that it was lunch time. I replied that I appreciated how urgent it was that they take lunch but it was also urgent that I complete my business as we had to go back to the council offices, they would be closed the next day and also were leaving Italy the that evening. He then explained that I was taking up their free time and took me firmly by the arm directing me to the door. Mr Flip Flops was standing outside, they had locked the doors and despite his pleas he wasn't being re-admitted. In the end after much arm waving and shouting, from me, they told me I would definitely have to come back later. I then asked for my paperwork back so I could re-present it again in the afternoon but I was told it had been cancelled because the transaction was not complete. I really lost my temper then and said I was not filling the forms in again. They eventually gave me back from the bin the then crumpled and crossed out pages and led me out of the door. We had to sit and wait until the bank opened again at 3.30 pm, arrived at the council offices too late to complete the work and had to give the papers to a friend to deliver for us the next day, he spent two hours waiting to be served and was eventually told the offices were closing. He too lost his temper but did eventually get dealt with.

However, we have taken up the lunch culture and despite working really hard we did take a proper Italian lunch break with good food and a snooze. Some days Mr Flip Flops even took a shower and changed into clean working clothes, we do like to make an effort. All our food was locally sourced, salami and prosciutto produced by the village butcher, regional cheeses, figs and olive oil from our garden. No wine though, not with all that work to do, just lemon tea and lashings of tap water.

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