We have a new family member. It’s tiny and it’s old but it’s ours and we are bursting with love for it. It’s a car.
After 2 months of being ripped off by car rentals, of having to take the 2,5 hour drive back and forth from Milan every other week (with a 2 year old backseat driver) to rent a new car, we finally managed to get a car of our own.
We have gone from one extreme to the other in what type of car we should buy. In the beginning, when we had just relocated to Italy we drove down to Genoa because we had found a car we wanted to buy. It was a huge Jeep and we wanted it as ours. We figured that now that we are living in the countryside we’d better get a car that could handle the hills and the slippery slopes in the winter. We arrived in Geona to be greeted by a heavily coked and drunk car salesman. He was completely out of this world, but we can’t say that we wasn’t honest cause he told us during the test drive that he had enjoyed a few too many drinks that morning. He also said that was just because he really liked drinking. We didn’t like him, but we liked the car. We decided to go ahead and get it and that’s when we found out that is just not how it works. We are used to being able to go in, point at a car and basically say “I want”…and leave with the car once the finances are in order. This is not how things work in Italy. As we discovered that we were not going to be driving off on “our” Jeep that day but we would, however, have to pay (the narcotic salesman) €200 up front to secure ourselves the car and then up to €400-500 extra to change ownership on the car and wouldn’t be able to get it until the following week, we decided to take a step back. In fact we took such a large step back that we didn’t really get into the swing of things again for a while regarding the car buying, as all the other things seemed more pressing at the time. A part from that we didn’t know what kind of car would function both as a family car and as a business car (and be able to transport large amounts of wood in all sizes and shapes – in all kinds of weather and in the mountains). It also had to be pretty stable and easy for an Italian to fix (as we don’t want to be stranded on the mountain) + it couldn’t cost too much.
This dream car is pretty much impossible to find. We searched the internet days on end for a car that would fit our needs. We found one, twice, and got our hearts broken both times as there was always someone who beat us to it. Then, finally, when we were just about to run out of time with the last rental car (just 2 days before we had to make yet another drive to Milan to hand it in and get ripped off once again on a disappearing budget) we found the cutest little Fiat Panda in Asti. It wasn’t too shabby as many of the Panda’s are and it had clearly been cared for by the previous owner. It was clean and nice and we requested to see it immediately. We got a “yes”, hopped into the car and drove for about an hour until we found ourselves in Asti and in front of the car. We took a quick look at it and pretty much decided on the spot that we wanted it, even before taking for a spin.
And this is where the fun starts.
To buy the car we had to change ownership of the car. This can only be done in a special agency. The agency we used was in Asti as the car is in Asti. We couldn’t get in until at 16 the day after, on a Friday (and were supposed to hand in the rental on Saturday). But to be able to drive the car you need to get your insurance in order first. This is done in Acqui, an hour from Asti. To get your insurance you have to have the ownership papers signed and stamped from the agency, in Asti. The insurance papers are not just papers that you can fax over, but you need a special certificate that you put in the front window of the car. If you don’t have this certificate the police can stop you and confiscate your car and as far as we’re concerned we think the police may be on % checking cars as we have on several occasions seen them on the side of the road with some poor bastard in holding. This was not a risk we were willing to take. The insurance agency in Acqui closed at 18.
We showed up, hopeful, at the agency in Asti to pay for the car and have the ownership changed. The whole thing was set in motion when the agent looks at us a little funny and asks for our “Permesso di Soggiorno”(living permit);
we try as we can to explain to him that we don’t have this paper as we don’t need it, being Icelandic. Iceland is not a part of EU but is a member of EFTA. This gives us rights and exceptions that other countries outside of the EU and not in EFTA do not have. In this case, the living permit, being a part of it. As fortunate as we are to get all these exceptions they tend to cause great problems in the process because these exceptions are not something that people are normally aware of (adding building block to the bureaucracy). The agent was not ready to accept this explanation and standing there without proper Italian skills and without anyone who could translate for us we felt pretty helpless. This is where our accountant stepped into the picture (via phone) once again and played superhero. Somehow, miraculously, we walked out of there a full hour later with papers for the insurance company (not the actual papers, mind you, as they still needed to ask a chain of people how this works before it could be accepted, but some papers we had).
We drove like there was no tomorrow, directly into the thickest fog we have seen in a long time. We were on top of a mountain in the pitch black of the night (yes..at 17 o’clock, hello daylight savings) on the most crooked tiny roads seeing about a meter in front of us, in a hurry. We did, however, manage to get there in the nick of time. We wrote to the agency telling them that we were on our way and they were kind enough to wait up for us. Once we were there it was just a few minutes, a thousand papers to sign and a whole flock of women goo-gooing at the toddler until we were off again. Another hours drive back to Asti to get the car. We proudly put the little piece of paper in the window of our newly purchased wonder machine and took the hours drive back home. In two cars, in the pitch black of the night.
We arrived at home, had a quick “nap” and were off the morning after to return the rental to Milan Malpensa for the last time. Thank you!
We now have a fantastic little mountain goat that will get us anywhere we need. It is tough and will carry a brick-load of wood on the top or in the trunk. It even has a terrible little mp3 stereo thing in it, that allows us to use our phones (or mp3 player) as input and listen to music. Each time it’s on, however, it gives a high-pitch sound together with the music that changes pitch each time we shift gears. It’s hilarious and it can be a little annoying, but it’s ours.
We took the Italian way this time around and went for a Fiat and we don’t regret it one bit. No more rental cars at Milan Malpensa for us.