The short arm of the Culture Police...

I have said this many times and I must say it again…

The Most Important Person in an Italian village is the mechanic!

In my mind, no other competes. Not the priest, not the barman, not even the butcher or, the green-grocer. Our Mechanic in Codiponte is a Savior. Besides the occasional and unexpected mechanical glitches or, the periodically annoying inspections for You’s AUDI and my Galloper SUV…. both old, old, old vehicles… Our Mechanic has repeatedly and unfailingly… come… to… the… rescue!

My most recent automotive adventure was I had locked the keys to my galloping Blue SUV in the ignition, with the motor running, and all the windows shut tight. Thanks to the Good Lord, I had not left The Dogs inside! The day was saved by Our Mechanic. He cleverly pried open the driver’s door frame and propped it open with a metal bar from his shop, leaving enough space to slide a metal clothes hanger bent and with a loop at the end and, ever so carefully lifted the door lock from its down and locked position. Then, asked for nothing in return. Probably, to be left in Peace. It was nap time when I sought his h-e-l-p. I had noticed he was snapping his pants closed as he came out the front door. I gave him bottles of wine. Told me the day after he had enjoyed the offering. Good for you, oh God.

Another important call to Our Mechanic for his h-e-l-p came from You to lug two cement statues bought at auction on the Internet to il Poggiolo and place them in appropriate spots in our garden. Dr. Bacchus and Mr. Hercules. Took You, Our Mechanic and a hired man from the village all afternoon to do it.

There are other stories of rescue but…

other persons carry n’er a modicum of respect or, consideration of Our Mechanic’s standing in the community-at-large. They likely live in cities. These persons-in-question are the lovely folk over at the Culture Police or, in Italian bureaucratic jargon, gli uomini del Sopraintendenza dei Beni Culturali. CP, for short. And they are. Read on…

They’ve been active around Codiponte since, the work on the Medieval bridge began. Sadly, Our Mechanic did not do his Math or, at least, look up from dallying under the hood of a FIAT. Concomitantly to the work on the Medieval Bridge and the presence of CP’s, he engaged the local Builder Boy-Toy… BBT… to resurrect a rock shack on the site of his shop. Why is anyone’s guess. Our Mechanic likes to spend money? BBT ably dismantled the remnants of the shack’s stone, built a new full height dwelling out of earthquake resistant bricks, and then, carefully faced the entire structure with the remnants and trucked-in stone. We have our suspicions about the trucked-in stone. Laws may have been broken.

But, all has seemed up-to-date in Kansas City. And has been for a while. Our Mechanic spiffed-up his shop with new windows & doors and a striking Blue & Gold & White exterior paint-job, added a park with a lush XXL carpet of green grass… I HATE him for this since, my grass is beyond brown, scorched from months of our recent excessive Euro-Heat and rare access to w-a-t-e-r… and planted a few tall cypresses and a lone tree, placed terracotta urns with dangling flowers and, dug a well to water said park. Had to have cost him a minimum of Euro 10,000 for the efforts of the machinery alone. I may not have mentioned this… Our Mechanic is also the richest man in Codiponte. Well, he may be out more Euro-bucks when the Culture Police gets through with him.

They shut his infrastructure project down.



The local and fairly reliable gossip from those-in-the-know in Codiponte said the CP’s informed Our Mechanic that he was supposed to first ask their august permission to touch such a hallowed stone structure. Naturally, providing drawn details of the envisioned project. He did have the proper Building Permits from City Hall. But, in Italy, it is very rare that the left hand knows what the right is doing. Further, the CP’s might have granted their approval to restore the building NOT with new anti-seismic structure but… BUT… BIG BUT…build the new shack straight up from the remaining stones and utilising other just-as-old stones for continuity concerns. Had to look pretty old. How lovely. Other Laws to break for the just-as-old stones.

Did these paper-shufflers not get the word on Our Earthquake back in 2014? These CP’s have their heads so far up their bureaucratic wazoos… well, as we know, they are renowned for tendencies of short-sightedness, prioritizing Rules & Regulations over plain & practical Good Sense and, bullying the small fry. Here’s a guy… and yes, he is Exalted-on-High in Our Estimation and in many others… wanting to make improvements to his property. He offered employment to the BBT and to his associate BT’s. Created a mini-economy-boon for the suppliers of the building materials to do his project. And thus, and also at the end of the accounting day, the project would have put a lot of 22% IVA into the coffers of the Italian Tax Authority. CP’s can’t do their math either. Kind of burns me up a bit. More so than the Heat. Oh, and the community would have a pristine stone shack to admire on their travels to & fro Codiponte. None noticing the anti-seismic bricks hidden by a well-done stone facade. Imagine I am now doing that gesture with my arms.

All work is stopped. Bureaucratic paper has been written. Our Mechanic will have to pay a fine. Best Case will be to negotiate a compromise with the CP. Good Luck. The Worse Case is Our Mechanic will have to demolish what has been built AND restore the remnant of stones as they were uselessly before. Our Mechanic will be out more Euros’ than he had ever thought to pull out of his portofolio. Tomorrow is a new day.

A Lesson for all concerned of our little construction scenario is… and I am sure it will need to be repeated…

Any encounter with Italian authority is a ALWAYS catastrophic.

The trick is not to have any encounters. Something Our Mechanic ought to take as a sound Lesson… the next time he gets an idea for improvements.