Thursday, it has been raining, wet wet rain, the type of rain that goes straight into the marrow of your bones and makes you both wet and very cold.  Not that I am unhappy with the rain, we need rain or snow to ensure a continued supply of water throughout the year.  It did snow heavily, the peaks of the Apennines are still magically white but at our 500m altitude the snow did not settle for long so rain in spring even if cold and penetrating is good.

Of course with heavy rain the water in the balancing tank of the infinity pool gets too high and alarms sound, so I have to don the one remaining dry coat and head down to the plant room to empty off the surplus, and why does this always happen last thing at night just as I am warm and cozy and wanting to head straight to bed…

Earlier that same afternoon in a break from the rain, I had let the dogs out and they I thought had been wandering close to my house, but Jenny has evidently been further afield as she returned somewhat slowly and sheepishly seemingly unable to lift her rear off the ground.  Her front legs were working but back ones not.  I lifted her up, gave her a warm shower, cleaned her up and dried her with the hairdryer, now she is old she lets me do that without too much complaint.  I put her to bed and she slept soundly.  My immediate thought was that she had pulled a muscle, she is after all 15 years old and infirmities come to us humans well before that age.

Friday morning and it was obvious she could not properly walk, so I lifted her into the car and we headed off to Perugia to see the vet.  A thorough examination showed that she has weak spine, head down, unable to lift herself up.  She was given a homoeopathic painkiller and I was told to return tomorrow.  That day she hardly moved, I had to carry her outdoors to do her ‘essentials’ it was rather embarrassing for us both.  The Saturday visit resulted in a stronger painkiller and a dose of painkiller tablets.  Happily by mid afternoon she was managing to walk even if it meant being picked up and put on four paws.  Progress continued throughout Sunday, I plied her with ‘anti-dolorifici’ and she managed to get up for food, that dog lives for food…

I had friends over for dinner, very informal, I cooked a soufflé and through time we entered into a deep debate as to what to do, give her little medicine or continue with painkillers and resort to cortisone.  It is a toughie to answer.  Cortisone damages liver and kidneys, so that therapy would potentially reduce her lifespan but keep her out of pain, or stop the painkillers in the expectation of a longer lifespan.   On the subsequent vets visit on Monday for blood tests, the vet was against the cortisone, her kidneys are a bit dysfunctional, and he said to stop the other painkillers, which I have done.  She is eating and sleeping and if lifted onto all fours manages to walk and do everything.  That is the point I am at. niente facile.

Meanwhile I have been at two meetings in town, a presentation of yet another ‘Tourism the way Forward’ with the local and regional administrators, and a sub committee of rural businesses targeting interests specific to businesses out-with the town centre.  Now I am an old hand at these meetings, either as in the case of the second meeting they have no chairman so all is chaos and the loudest shout the most or as in the first instance the chairman accepts interventions and questions from the floor thus effectively filibustering the issues meaning that he and his team do not really have to do anything or justify their inaction.  It is very frustrating, but a glimmer of hope shone at the big meeting.

The province of Perugia, that is the northern part of Umbria in which we are situated have discovered €200,000 for additional marketing and allocated €100,000 for a dedicated social media team.  Last year they launched a new website, which whilst good has appalling errors in both English grammar and syntax.  Hopefully they will employ a competent professional linguist, they sure need to as I feel certain their Dutch translations are also lacking.

The second piece of good news is the proposed increase in flights to our regional airport of Perugia.  Poste Italiane has designated the airport as a new freight hub, going a long way to securing the airport’s  survival, and the region is in negotiations with Ryanair and EasyJet to increase the flight routes and as reported by the vice chairman this will include direct flights from Amsterdam.  That would be great, I know just how much you Dutch guys love Bellaugello and of course Umbria.

Incidentally bookings are coming in, a delightful mix of returning guests and new ones, I am really looking forward to this season.  Some weeks are already fully booked, so come on guys act now.

The Summer schedule of flights into Perugia are currently from London Stanstead, Brussels, Munich, Catania/Trapani Sicily, and Bari/Puglia.  The last two destinations making a two centre holiday either Umbria-Puglia or Umbria-Sicily very easily achieved.  Here’s hoping they pull off the Amsterdam flight.

Back on the ranch an email from the finance department of the local comune.  Oh how I hate these emails.  This one is concerning the tourist tax or ‘tassa di soggiorno’ that they introduced in late 2015.  Currently in our capacity as unpaid and unthanked tax collectors for the comune of Gubbio we operators are required to submit to their accounts department four monthly returns three times a year, and obviously to make a bank transfer of said tourist tax income.  Needless to say this is a thankless and somewhat complicated task, especially for the May and September returns when I am really busy with a full house at Bellaugello, but do it like others I must otherwise there are huge fines applied.  Now the comune are wanting in addition an annual return and for us operators to assume legal responsibility for any errors including those of the comune.  It is exasperating, and so bloody pointless.  Already we are required to send a list of arrivals and departures to the region, its called ‘Tolm’.  These statistics include country of origin and length of stay, so why can the comune not simply extrapolate the figures from the ‘Tolm’ and send us a bill?  We would check that, if some guest had refused to pay the tax, then we would have to demonstrate that document, life would be much simpler and more efficient, but hey ho! this is bureaucracy and keeping jobs open for the incompetent.

So today there is a glimmer of blue sky, the huge puffy cumulus have stopped chasing each other across the sky and are hanging limpidly, I have already fished the dead leaves out of the pool and re-checked the field drains.  In town I bought paint, a light green/grey and mid green/grey, it is time to refresh the bedroom of the Specchio Suite, I am tired of the yellow, it has to go and I have a picture in my mind of how I want the room to look.  The room has been emptied of furniture, I have just devoured a bowl of soup so fortified I am heading down to take out my frustrations on four walls and a ceiling 🙂

How they just hate giving one receipts
My accountant quite correctly insists that when shopping I ask for a tax/vat/iva receipt that is at least for business expenses
Now you would think that here I italy that would be the simplest thing ever. After all by law all stores have to give one a receipt. But no they give you a non tax receipt. To get said tax deductible piece of paper you first have to register with the store and then they request a minimum purchase. So if I buy one geranium costing €2.50 to put in a pot to make a windowsill nice then under their rules I cannot claim the tax so I end up being unable to claim tons of small amounts.!
Worse still is that several stores which have bonus or loyalty cards will not let you use them if you need a tax receipt…
WHY?? doesn’t every transaction involve a tax element?
And even more aggravating and pointless is that you invariably have to go to another part of the store for your receipt and wait
This afternoon shopping 9 minutes queue at checkout 8 minutes waiting time at customer service desk 19 minutes. Tax reclaim €1.03 time spent to spend €30 36 minutes……
and they wonder why Italy is in such a mess!

Bureaucracy here in this country sure is bewildering.  Yesterday I wasted virtually the whole day running from one office to another.

It seems the regulations require me to have physically been in possession of something, but at the same time preclude me from having it.  I am being thrown from pillar to post.  I have the signed document, they countersigned it, but at the same time say it is impossible.

Why do departments of the same organisation not speak to each other?  Why is the system here set up to fluster and confuse and to put more money into the hands of lawyers and advisors?

I simply do not understand!!