Good morning all!
I want to tell you a bit about our first encounters when we were the fresh and happy owners, about a year ago.
We bought the house and paid an extra price to keep the furniture (we changed a lot afterwards, but okay, that’s normal), but there was a slight miscommunication on whether the expensive internet-TV was part of the deal. We assumed it was but noticed it wasn’t. A huge empty space on the wall was mocking with us when we entered the house after the notary deed. An extra investment, we thought, and problem solved. We went to a nearby store, bought a huge screen internet TV. A few days later, they sent us Giovanni in his fancy BMW and the TV. We clearly explained that it was important to have many channels available, and certainly British (since most guests are from the UK). He stayed busy on the sofa in front of the TV for at least two hours and when leaving, explained – too quickly – how everything worked. We were in the middle of installing the stuff we brought from Belgium (we managed to have a truck full), so it wasn’t until later that we noticed that most of the channels appeared to be Italian. Well, Giovanni blamed it on the internet, not strong enough because of the thick walls, but he would find a solution. A couple of days later he came back with a huge satellite antenna. The old antenna could be removed and replaced by this one. It wasn’t too visible, placed behind the roof of the trullo, so I agreed. Giovanni proudly announced we could watch over 500 channels now, worldwide! He disappeared, leaving a bill of 300 Euros for the antenna. That evening I took the time to go over the different channels. I didn’t count them, but there must have been a few hundred–broadcasted from the following areas: Japan, China, the Middle-East. I was furious, and believe me, expressing your anger in a different language is not that easy. So I took the dictionary, wrote everything down and called Giovanni. “Ah, Sophia! Come sta?” In my best English I politely told him to get his antenna and put it where ever …. He got the message, came back, gave me a friendly kiss (I thought it was a habit in Italy, but Francesca told me it was not a custom at all), removed the antenna and finally found a satisfactory solution.
The second Giovanni I met around the same time. I was on the porch, choosing fabrics for the large cushions in the outdoor area (I chose a dark green, which matches well with the green-pink botanical cushions I made myself). Teresa, the lady who recovered the two sofas in the living room, was with me. She was going to make the cushions. Suddenly he was standing next to us, Giovanni, our neighbor. He told me I could just call out, whenever I needed help. He is a nurse and normally lives in Ostuni City, which is very closeby. The house next to us is his family’s vacation home, which sounds a bit weird since it is only five kilometers away. Giovanni immediately made a deal, to which I didn’t specifically agree, that he was going to teach me Italian while I would teach him English. And ever since that first encounter I have met Giovanni several times. He has a special gift. He can suddenly pop up out of nowhere (I sometimes think he is hiding between his olive trees and waiting till he hears a car) and stand in the middle of our driveway, his two centimeter thick glasses blinking in the sunlight, just to say hello when I am driving by. Of course, in this case, there is no way of just driving by. I need to stop, and chat for half an hour. Last spring, when daughter was dozing off and enjoying the first rays of sun in front of our house, he suddenly appeared next to her sunbed. He had mistaken daughter for me. Perhaps his glasses should be thicker, because there is a difference (ten centimeters more in width, and less in height, not speaking of age…), but the conversation didn’t last long: the language barrier.
Nonetheless, we are happy with an honest and good-tempered neighbor. Last Summer we met our other neighbor, Jean-Paul, who’s living down the hill. He is another kind to deal with, and more on his temper later.
Till next week!
Photos by Marie Bouly Photography