Friday, November 06, 2015

How to Rent a Unicorn
What ha-happened is this: 

Where we last left off I had a second chance at the apartment over T's friend Giorgia's house which we referred to as a unicorn siting because a big affordable apartment in Lucca is a rarity. Originally we were denied and the Marchese, or as I call him the Count,  who owns the property was going to allow another family to have the apartment. That family changed their minds so we did get an "audience" with the lackey/geometra of the Marchese, Filippo, to see what I thought would be the perfect apartment for us.
Filippo was like Frankenstein's Igor but a little more slimy.
The Batmobile from Lucca Comics
Bibbity Bobbity Boo, how cute are they?
The night before the appointment Filippo called to postpone. It was a huge disappointment.  I begged him to let me see the place, despite the fact that F could not get there so early the next morning. In F's absence, I enlisted the help of my friend Fabio, who is also my friend Francesca's husband, because he is studying building administration. I thought we could hire him if we needed a supervisor for workmen to put in a kitchen and new floors of the apartment because the rent was only cheap because the apartment did not have a kitchen and had kind of ugly floors and was in need of painting.. I thought I had a good idea of what the apartment was like because I discovered some photos of the place on the website of a real estate agent. It turned out that they had been completely photoshopped.I argued with Filippo saying that I really wanted the apartment, but that I wanted to start work on it right away and he balked saying that the apartment was perfect as it was. I think this happened because he didn't understand that we were planning to pay for the work and didn't expect him to organize to have it done for free. 

The next morning I woke up very early after a sleepless night to get to the appointment on time.  As it turned out Fabio got to the apartment even before Filippo, despite the fact that he lives outside the walls and had to walk his bike which had broken on the way. He is a super hero and I will be forever grateful to him.

Fabio and I couldn't even look at each other when Filippo opened the door because it was such a depressing sight. The place stunk of old age; it was much smaller than advertised; it was ancient, and the electricity had to be run up the surface of the walls; it had small rooms and a rather disgusting shower. I charmed the heck out of Filippo while I was there, but then quickly realized that no amount of work or monetary investment could turn that apartment into a unicorn, despite the low rent and perfect location. 

While I was waiting for Filippo, I noticed that the palazzo across the street bears the Marchese's name


I hit the pavement and the phones and made desperate pleas to a coworker  to put up fliers in the English school and made a big pitch to all of our facebook friends on an expat forum.  It was F who came through with the home run. His friend Catherine knew a couple comprised of an Italian man and his German wife who bought a fabulous apartment right around the corner from T's school, but then decided that they preferred country life. The apartment is so beautiful that I cried during the tour.

It is on the top floor and it has a mansarda/attic apartment for T. It has breathtaking views of Lucca from the rooftops and is next to our favorite ortofrutta/vegetable and fruit market. It is around the corner from our friends Luca and Monica's bakery where F goes almost every morning to buy bread. It is fully furnished in a bohemian antique way with the man's father's furniture and rugs. The ceilings are very high, the floors are astoundingly beautiful. The stairway was not so nice and then it turned out that they are repairing the stairway of the building next week. We had an unreasonable expectation for the rent because the rent we had heard about was a charity offer they had done for their friend that had stayed there last year. It turned out that the man is worried about the taxes he has to pay and he told us that he would consider an offer the next day. He didn't want to talk numbers that day and that was that. I hit it off with his wife and I promised her that we would giver her some of F's famous homemade bread no matter what. I felt she was on our side. 

Angle of upstairs mansarda

I knew I couldn't sleep that night and I haven't been sleeping much lately in this period so I asked F to make his pitch in the late afternoon. In the end, the man said that we could have the apartment. I will live in fear until it is all signed, but I think it is an excellent sign that they invited us all to lunch at their house in the country on Saturday! I have made F promise not to talk religion or politics. Bureaucracy -- here we come!

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