Friday, December 23, 2011


The day we flew home from Germany, we arrived on our street to find the top of it crowded with policemen, an ambulance, two moving trucks, and an excavator sitting in the yard of a house up there. After getting our stuff unloaded, we hung about our front terrace watching all sorts of activity. As the afternoon progressed, I observed men removing things like walls and doors and placing them in the trucks. Police were everywhere. A friend reported seeing a paddy wagon up there as well. Combined with the excavator, our first thought had to be: Camorra! A mob boss found living underground on our street. After all, the same thing happened only a week prior. I called my neighbors who have their finger on the pulse of our hamlet's goings on, and her husband found out the answer for us. The house was abusivo - built without permits. Now the house has been there for a decade (or so the story goes), and it was gorgeous. Large, beautiful roof terrace at street level looked out over the sea, while the house built into the hillside had an incredible, tiled, fully complete outdoor kitchen. This house was not some shack thrown up, but more of a seaside villa. Apparently, the police are cracking down on the "abusivos," and have taken the route of tearing them down. I kept asking, throughout the week as I watched the men turn that house into a big pile of rubble, why didn't the government seize the house, bring it to code, and auction it off? Wouldn't that have actually made the government money rather than cost it money? But, abusivo is abusivo, and the answer is to tear them down, thus creating a gaping, dirty hole in a fairly pretty, upscale neighborhood, thereby lowering property values and creating an area that I am quite sure will soon become an unofficial trash dump. In talking with my friend and neighbor, I kept trying to apply reason to the tear down - maybe bringing the house to code would be too difficult, or maybe... - she finally shrugged and said, "This is Italy. It doesn't have to make sense." True that.

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