We have arrived again on the Amalfi coast...this time south toward Sorrento in the area of Massa Lubrense. I am trying to figure out how it became known as the Amalfi coast instead of the Sorrento coast, because Sorrento is basically a city by Italian standards, while Amalfi is only several streets long. Maybe it has a better ring to it. We only drove through Sorrento but I was surprised at how large and un-quaint it was, compared with Amalfi and Positano. Too much road noise. In Italy, pedestrian zones are like gold. Now when I hear a town (like Lucca, Siena, Positano) has a pedestrian zone where cars are limited, I automatically get interested. Hmm, that sounds nice. Relaxing, quiet, none of the buzz of mopeds and the franticness of wondering if the next Fiat might run over your toes.
Being in Italy is a continual lesson in patience, unpredictability, and surprise. It keeps you sharp, because you have to be. It is really no place to be groggy or sleep-deprived. My husband, who has to navigate the narrow corridor streets and avoid hitting any manner of pedestrian, bus, mopeds angling past, the occasional goat crossing... he needs his sleep to have quick reflexes to drive appropriately in this country. There is no such thing as cruise control.
Things we often take for granted, like predicatability and standardization, are totally foreign here. I read a passage in a book by Italian author Beppe Severgnini,about the psychology of Italian hotels.
"Unlike other people, we are not looking for predictability and uniformity in a hotel. We want to be treated as unique individuals, in a unique place in unique circumstances. The model Agip chain was Italy's boldest attempt at standardization. It was an interesting cultural experiment with a hint of nationalistic self-sufficiency, but today hotels have taken another direction.....boarding houses are even more Italian if that were possible." When things do not work, they see it as a challenge. It is part of the experience when a toilet does not flush, the lights do not turn on, the TV doesn't work. To me, I think, Why on Earth didn't they check the room before we checked in to make sure everything was in working order? But here, it is not expected that everything be just so, in fact, it is basically expected that things will not be standardized and functional, that changes will have to be made.
Remember my post about the Ischia hotel, about the air conditioning not working? Well, here, at our new villa, it is the Internet connection. I tell the owner my husband must have internet to do his job. I ask if he can have it fixed by this evening, because my husband has to be online by 4PM. He smiles at me, shrugs, and says, "yes, I hope it is possible". I am used to "it will get done"; but here, everything is somewhat left up to the forces of nature, and the whims of the only person in town who has the authority to fix something. If he gets back from his lunch break by four, then yes, perhaps it will be possible. I try to remain calm, but inside I have been infuriated again and again by this process. Checking into a new place that says WIFI, Sky TV, air conditioning, etc, and having it not be so. Waiting one or two days until the right person can fix it, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. The internet did in fact get fixed, by 6pm, which is in fact quite an impressive job, so I thanked the owner for obviously pulling some strings to get it solved.