It’s Saturday morning, our last morning in Velina (Campania Italy). We have breakfast at the house and finish our packing. We meet with the owner we bought the condo from and his daughter (runs condo association). Our broken Italian doesn’t allow a deep conversation but we get by. We decide we need screens for the windows. We have seen them in a neighbors unit. George never thought they would be possible because the windows open in and shutters open out. Where would the screens go? They actually go between the window and the shutter but they roll over to one side allowing access to the shutters. Ingenious! We also learnt that we could buy an Air Conditioning unit if we wanted to. It installs under the boiler on the deck. All the hook ups are there and the cool air comes out of the heater units. Easy install!
It is time to close down the place for another year. We turn off power to stove and refrigerator, open the refrigerator door and wipe it down. We cover table, furniture, towel racks and bed in plastic. Finally we shut off gas and water on deck at the boiler. All windows and shutters are closed and locked. We exit and say good-by to our home in Italy. It is very sad to drive through the gates and up the driveway for the last time this year. We both look back to see the house one last time and the mountains.
The highway is only about 2 miles from our town. It is a good road until it is not. This is the road that washed away in heavy rains last winter. After exiting a long tunnel we are detoured onto a mountain road. It is only a 4 or 5 mile detour but traffic is heavy. It seems everyone is headed north plus it is a weekend. Then we are back on the good highway and headed to Agropoli and then the A3 autostrada. The A3 takes us past Salerno and then turns north-west towards Naples. Above Naples it becomes the A1 autostrada (Italy’s main highway). It is a wonderful road with three lanes (which the Italians turn into four lanes sometimes). There are now speed cameras installed everywhere. The days of no speed limits are long gone.
The A1 goes from Naples north to Rome then north to Florence then north to Bologna and then finally to Milan. These superhighways allow you to go 140 KM/Hr (87 m/hr) before the cameras catch you. We aways stop along the autostrada at an auto-grill for something to eat and a break from driving. The drive from Velina to Fiumicino airport in Rome is 4 to 4.5 hours. These auto-grills are great. They serve pastry, sandwiches, pasta, coffee and alcohol. Yes you can have a drink before you re-enter the race to Rome.
First stop is out hotel on the airport property. It is the Hilton Garden Inn. A very nice modern hotel with decent rooms and a good restaurant. Breakfast is included and always good (you can order from a menu or go to the buffet). We check in and drop our suitcases off in the room. Next stop into the airport to return our rental car. The rental rents are in the short-term parking attached directly to the gates. Dropping the car off requires reading the sign as you enter the airport. Each car rental agency is located in one of the garages designated by a letter. We easily drop off our car and walk to terminal 3. From here you can take a shuttle bus or taxi to the hotel.
Back at the hotel it’s time for a drink before dinner. Drinks are served with a variety of nuts, pretzels and chips. Then it’s off for dinner. At dinner we meet another couple that just visited several big cities in Italy. After exchanging Facebook addresses we go to our room to get some sleep.
The next morning we boarded the shuttle bus to the airport. Anyone leaving Rome for the US must go to a new terminal, built by the Americans, for security. After security checks and passport control, you board a bus and are shuttled to the terminal that your flight leaves from. Rome’s airport is a big space with many gates, a good bar/restaurant and many shops. The shops require taking a mortgage out to buy the goods but it’s fun to browse. I always laugh when I see how many people stock up at the duty-free shop. Don’t they know that duty-free doesn’t mean cheap! It simply means you don’t pay duty on it. I priced 18-year-old scotch at the duty-free. It was $75. The same bottle back home at Total Wine was only $56. People love to think they are getting a big deal.
This is the saddest part of the journey. On one hand you are looking forward to getting home and seeing family and friends. On the other hand you are leaving romantic Italy. There is always next year!
Tomorrow we will discuss Fees and costs associated with owning a home in Italy.
George & Jo Anne