I got an email from my realtor in Norcia who says my house has been declared "inagibile" by the civil engineers. There's structural damage that wasn't immediately evident when I was running about throwing the kitties in their carry-box.
This means it's going to be a lot longer to go home than I had first anticipated. The good news is that the municipality has suspended all taxes and utilities and is footing the bill for rents and compensation for people stuck without a home. I only rent, but it means I won't have to keep the rent up for the time I'm away (if I got the Italian right.) I have to go and fill out a form.
The realtor could have sent me the form by email, but we're going up tomorrow in a rented car anyway, so it'll be easier to do it in person, and then we can get additional information. I can go into the house no problem, but can't live in it. He says it will be fixed "before a year" but of course, there's no way to know exactly. So, new plans must be made.
(Something that's pretty awesome about Italy is the relationship you have with your realtor. The guy who finds your home - whether rented or bought - becomes like your manager for all matters pertaining to your domestic life after that. He helps you hook up to utilities, finds you the guy who sells firewood, gets you the right forms and things from the government and walks you through all bureaucracy (often just does it for you) and becomes your trouble-shooter for every conceivable thing, from noisy neighbours to permits.
He's also the guy who knows everyone in town, so if you need a plumber or vet or doctor or bike repair he'll be the guy to talk to. And in a situation like this, having an advocate who is a native speaker and knows all the ropes and all the local officials is indispensable. This is the way things are done in Italy; no one is a lone wolf. It's ALL about the community. Sandro and Luca Amici, father and son team, have been great from the first day, and I'd recommend them to anyone who wants a place in Norcia or the vicinity. They kept working and helping people sort things out, even after they were themselves living in tents in their front garden after the August quakes.)
At least this news and info clears up ambiguities. I was all muddled not knowing what I could expect or what was happening withe house, so not really knowing exactly what plans to make. I rented a nice little holiday flat for cheap (off season) in Santa Marinella, the town on the coast north of Rome where I lived for several years before moving up to Norcia. But it's not possible for it to be a long-term thing. Good for a few months, but not for six months or a year. So will have to start making some serious plans.
Also, because the lease will be suspended, and because the house isn't so damaged that my things are exposed, I can just leave all my furniture and things and come home to them when it's all taken care of. I can also make visits and even probably stay over night now and then when necessary. So, for the moment, though the kitties and I aren't really settled anywhere we're not homeless and at least I don't have to lug my furniture and 40 boxes of books into storage. And I won't lose the house.
But I'm finding that after the initial shock, I'm actually feeling more relieved than I expected. This means I am finally able to get out of the uncertainty zone and start making concrete and realistic plans for the longer term, which is a huge relief in itself.
At least I can hold my head up in Norcia. I was feeling pretty badly for all my friends whose homes are either destroyed or inagibile and who have been shipped off to live in hotels and resorts on the coast and Lake Trasimeno, or who have gone to camp with parents and friends. I had been thinking that I could just saunter back to my house whenever I wanted, and it was all up to me. Now we're really all in the same boat, all together. Now I'm a real terremotata, and I feel less bad about having left. I'm part of the Norcia Disaspora now, and feel all the more solidarity with my fellows.
We're going up tomorrow with a load of plug-in heaters I bought for donating to the people stuck in tents and little portable houses. Going to stop by the supermarket on the way and get some groceries as well to give to the volunteer distribution centre. I'll fill in the forms, and we'll take a drive around and see if we can find my friends whom I've been a bit worried about. Some of the older people are still there and I want to know they're OK. I'll take the camera up and dig my voice recorder out of the house and do some interviews and see if I can write it up so the world can also get a better idea of what things are really like up there.
And I'll be able to pack up the house and get it ready. The studio will come back down with me, since I think this should be taken as an opportunity to get painting. All the books should go in boxes and I've got a bunch of bubble -wrap for the pictures. The spare bedroom is more or less a storage room, so we'll just shove everything in there. Pack up Great Grandma's china, the glass wear and breakable bits and pieces, all in boxes and in the little room. At least this way when the workmen have to come and fix things, this stuff won't be in their way.
After that, I'll just pack up all the clothes and coats and boots and art supplies and things, do whatever I can to winterize the garden, and come back down.
I've got a few ideas, but nothing confirmed.