Saturday, December 12, 2009

I am so proud of myself…

I bought a car! For those of you who are expatriates (especially in Italy) you will know just what a huge accomplishment that is. And, I am legally parking inside the walls of Lucca – that’s humongous!!!

I have accomplished in a little over a year what some people take 10 or more years to do. I have my permit to stay in the country. With that, I got my Tessera Sanitaria card which covers my entire medical needs. With the permesso (permit), I also became an official Lucca resident. As a resident, I became eligible to buy a car. And, with the residency permit, I was also able to get a parking permit to park inside the beloved walls of Lucca. Do you have any idea how few people can say that who have lived in Lucca for years?!?! Well, just trust me that there are few if they’re not born and raised Lucchese.

Now, my car isn’t anything to write home about, mind you, but it’s just what I need for driving in Italy. It’s a little ’98 Renault Clio with three doors including hatchback. It’s little and in great shape with approximately 50,000 miles on it. It was recently completely serviced, has excellent tires, and gets me places other than the distances my bicycle, a bus or train can get me. And, for all you worriers, I took it to my mechanic to thoroughly check out before I bought it.

With a car, I will now be able to go to the tartufo bianco (white truffle) festivals and local fairs that are difficult or impossible to get to without a car. And, I can stay out past 8:30 at night which is the time the final buses leave most little communities to return to Lucca. And, I can drive to IKEA and the outlet stores to save tons of money! Life is great!

Today, I took the girls with me to get my parking permit and then went to ArcaPlanet to buy their dog food. When I returned to the city, I had to drive around for about 20 minutes before a parking space became available but it was so much more pleasant to walk a few feet with my large bag of canned dog food rather than lugging it home by hand or winding my way through pedestrians with a full load on my bike.

Okay, so lots of people buy cars. Why am I so proud of myself? Because I sold a Mr. “T” style 18K gold necklace that I rarely wore and had for years which pretty much paid for the car! The car is completely mine with no monthly payments, I have full coverage insurance and parking paid for a year, and also purchased additional insurance similar to AAA which gives me free towing service anywhere in the country of Italy - and covers emergencies in other countries! Now I just get to deal with Italian drivers – yikes!