Monday, December 2, 2019

So Much For The Penthouse!

Monday December 2, 2019
Partly Cloudy 62°F/17°C in Roma, Lazio, Italia

After Maria’s call pulled the rug out of my plans for a place to stay in Rome, I called my son Michael
Michael and Alexander
in a bit of a panic. I had a hunch that would happen! Said my son.  I got the feeling that she doesn’t have a clue about how Italian contractors work, especially if they’re not supervised. And Maria told me that she was going to Japan on business during the time you’d be arriving. Michael was up against a deadline of his own. His wife, Laura was due to give birth to the couple’s first child around November 14th, He did NOT have time to go house-hunting for his dad. But, two days later he called to tell me he had found an apartment in my preferred section of E.U.R. It’s Via Elio Vittorini, dad, off Viale Cesare Pavese, where you stayed at Mohamed’s place. He went on to say that because the birth of his son was imminent, he wouldn’t be able to check the place out. But the photos looked good, plus it was a solid neighborhood, very high end, etc., etc.  I concurred, and we signed the contract. I would have to spend my first night in a hotel while the other guests moved out. But I had found my home for the next two months…or, so I thought.

Penthouse View
It DID have a great view! I was hustled right outside to see it and avoid the shortcomings of the inside. Later, after the landlady and her associate had left, did I came to get an opportunity to survey the apartment properly. The bathroom was super small and cramped? Imagine a small closet with an oversized sink, a toilet and a bidet AND a shower all crammed into a four by six room. I would have to climb over the bidet to gain access to the shower. Now I should digress to explain that all Rome apartment buildings have on their roof a structure to house the machinery for the building’s elevator. Over the years the elevator box has been expanded to include a small apartment or two. Thus, in the age of Airbnb, that is how we got the Penthouse designation. Access is gained by a full flight of stairs without handrails. Since I have rheumatoid arthritis, the ascent UP the stairs was manageable with my cane but GOING DOWN was a nightmare! (For Italy, any form of ADA legislation is still in the distant future! And, so I passed the next three nights – scared out my wits to exit the apartment, except when Michael was around to call the paramedicos in case I took a header down the stairs.

I’ve already recounted the visit I had from Giancarlo, the building superintendent. He wondered about all the racket on my roof during the night. It was the compressor for the combo heater/ air conditioner that made enough racket that HE could hear it in his flat on the floor below. That night, I listened to the drip…drip…drip of the rain on my pillow – until I wised up and moved the bed away from the leaking window. I awoke the next morning with the intention of taking a shower. I turned on the water and adjusted the temperature to my satisfaction. Then, I climbed over the bidet and into the shower and soaped myself to a fare-thee-well. At the moment of super-sudsiness, my hot water turned icy cold! I haven’t had a cold shower like that since Boy Scout Camp, or maybe the time my wife told me for the twentieth time that she had a headache! I rinsed off as best as I could – in great haste, I might add, and got the hell out of the shower. The culprit was the antique by-demand water heater on the wall. It’s capacity of hot water was – shall we say – sorely lacking.
Alexander Botula

But the Coupe de Ville, as my old KMPC buddy, Dave Niehaus used to say before he went on to fame and fortune, broadcasting games for the Seattle Mariners baseball team. The Coupe de Ville for me came when the ancient wax ring at the base of the toilet sprung a leak and flooded the bathroom, with water lapping out under the door into the living room. Just then, my son Michael buzzed me from the front gate. When he got up to my penthouse, he greeted me with, ‘Morning, Pop! Did you get your shower? Then he spotted the deluge, whipped out his cell phone and started video-ing the entire apartment. That’s for the complaint department at Airbnb, he explained. Then, he got our landlady on his phone. When he got done with the call, he said to me, get packed! This place is uninhabitable. They’ll be over soon to pick up the keys. By the time they arrived, Michael’s video was already being viewed by the Airbnb folks, who had already promised a full refund. By the time that the Penthouse landladies had arrived, my son had found me a NEW apartment. But it wouldn’t be ready for another day. So, it was back to Hotel Quadrifoglio Roma, where I had spent my first night in Rome.

My New Apartment
The new place is on Via Laurentina, right around the corner from my apartment on Viale Oscar Sinigaglia. Christian and Delia Grilli are my hosts. Compared to the Penthouse, my new place is a dream! It’s taken a few days now, but I’m all settled into my new digs. I’ve even taken a couple of showers, and, lo and behold-no cold water and NO floods! When we signed the rental agreement, Christian cautioned me that I might get a visit from officers of La Guardia Finanza, Italy’s financial police who look out for Italians who might get the urge to cheat on their taxes. Sure enough, the next morning my doorbell rang, and I opened my door to two ladies flashing badges. We’re from the police! Said one of them, and I ushered them. They looked over my rental agreement and checked my passport. I, in turn gave them Christian and Delia’s phone numbers and they left shortly thereafter.

I realize my apartment travails have prevented me from post the full number of baby pictures of my new grandson – Alexander. But I’ve been preoccupied with straightening out my living situation. I’ll just put you on notice that will change with this blog. I see Il bambino just about every day, so stand by for lots of baby pictures!

Next time: Amina takes me on a tour of the neighborhood! Plus, Louis C.K. and other delights.

[Mike Botula, the author of LST 920: Charlie Botula’s Long, Slow Target! is a retired broadcast journalist, government agency spokesperson and media consultant.   Mike’s book is available from Amazon Books. You can read more about Mike Botula at]
© By Mike Botula 2020

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