‘Bin’ running around …

Last week we made another leap forward in our bid to become ‘Italiani’. We had two things to sort out with the Comune, now that we have the house, so we headed down to the village to see Cinzia in her office – she’s the bins and water lady.

We started with the water first. Because we’ve connected into the Comune supply (remember our many metres of pipe running from next door’s manhole cover to our tap?) we needed to reactivate the connection, solely for the purpose of paying for it – the water was already flowing freely to our house but we’re honest folk! For this we filled out a couple of forms detailing the land registry information of the house so a contract could be produced. Simple eh? No … we’re in Italy remember … once we’d completed the forms, Cinzia gave us a bill for the reactivation which we then had to take into the village ‘Poste’ to pay and where we were given a receipt. We then had to go to one of the local ‘tabacchi’ where we had to purchase a ‘Marca da Bollo’ – a specific stamp for €16 which would validate the contract. Finally we returned to the Comune to give both the receipt and the stamp to Cinzia to affix to the contract. OK, so water done … nothing different to how it was this morning apart from we were nearly €80 lighter and are now registered to have the pleasure of paying the ‘once a year’ bill!

The ‘spazzatura’ paperwork was far simpler to organise. Again we had to complete a form, this time detailing the m2 of the house and include how many residents there were. We don’t get offered a ‘door to door’ service as we are a little ‘out in the sticks’ so we determined that our nearest drop off point is over a kilometre away – for which we get a reduction in the fee. We also explained that we had made our own compost area so wouldn’t need the usual brown bin from the Comune, another point to us as we get a further reduction. Our area of Italy has recently embraced a huge sorted rubbish system and each household has a variety of brown, white, black and yellow bins which now dot the ends of driveways on certain days each week. So with the paperwork sorted, all we needed now were our coded plastic bags, as each household is identifiable for their own rubbish, and a supply of yellow bags (for our plastic items), black bags (for other dry waste) and a key for the relevant bins at the drop off point.

We were directed to the nearest large town, Cairo Montenotte, and arrived at the huge recycling plant to ask where to collect our items. It turned out we were in the wrong place but stumbled upon the ‘tip’ area where we can bring our larger items of rubbish – but only after visiting the Comune for another form detailing what we wanted to dispose of, getting an authorised signature to say that we had permission from the Comune to use the facility and to make sure we did it on the second Thursday of the month only – the day allocated for our area. The lady there then explained that we needed to go to another large building at the back of the plant to collect the rubbish bags and key for our everyday use. So off we trotted, taking in the sights and sounds of sorted Ligurian refuse, arriving at a large closed gate and an Intercom. After pressing the button we then had a conversation with a lady who said we were in completely the wrong place and needed to go the Comune in Cairo Montenotte for our bags as there was a little office set up there solely for this purpose – but it was only open between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock on an afternoon. By now it was ten past four … aaagh!

The following day, at just after 2.00pm, we once again set off to the town, arriving at the Comune and indeed finding a small office with a lady sitting at a desk and a tower of boxes along one wall containing various coloured plastic bags. Finally! We were given two rolls of black bags, two rolls of yellow bags – enough for one bag of each colour to be filled each week for the year – and all barcoded so they could keep tabs on us, and a key for the wheelie bins at any drop off point. I thought it was quite funny that all of these were put into another plastic bag for me to carry – that’s my yellow recycling bag filling up already! We were also given a calendar of what to drop off when, and a long colour coded list of what can be put in each bag … in Italian of course … so each bit of rubbish we create at the moment can’t be thrown away without consulting the list, and occasionally the dictionary!

So now we have yellow bags, black bags, and a compost heap in the garden, white bins on the roadside for tetrapaks (only because we can’t compost them), green bins on the roadside further along in the village for glass and cans, next to that in the ‘piazza’ is a bin for old batteries and finally we have the second Thursday every month for anything that doesn’t fit in any of the above categories. Organised is not a word you immediately associate with Italy, but when they decide on something … they go all out!

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