The end of Chapter Three in this epic saga left me with my chin on the floor and my heart somewhere south of it’s usual resting place! I had just been told by one of the relatives of the couple I was purchasing a piece of property from that she would not sign the paperwork making me owner. Everyone else around the table had already put their “John Hancock” on the contract and she had crossed her arms emphatically stating, “no escrito”!
There was much clucking and cross talk at this point from all the others at the table. Why? The notaio (para-legal) finally got someone to clarify the big question of why she would not sign and evidently it was just that she indeed, did not write (escrito). She was illiterate, as some of the older generation in small villages still are. I proffered suggestions such as making a mark on the page, an X possibly, but apparently that was either not understood or was not legal.
After some twenty minutes of much conversation in which everyone spoke at once, seeming not to listen to one another, decisions was made! The county clerk would go to lunch! After that a power of attorney would be drawn up for one of the other relatives to make a signature. Oh and did I mention that none of us were included in the lunch plans. Since the farmer’s family was not accustomed to being in the “city” or going out to restaurants to eat, we just sat around the table for two hours waiting for the clerk to come back. I had no idea how long the clerk would actually be gone and I was determined to wait it out with the rest of the family. They were very kind to me, shouting in Italian to ask if I needed the bagno (bathroom). That I understood! I’m not sure how I made it through those two hours but at long last the clerk returned with new paperwork and his hunger satiated, while my stomach gurgled and groaned about being so empty. (In hindsight I know I could have gone to eat, but not knowing all the protocol regarding the family and the fact that some had ridden in the car with me, I opted to wait it out with them rather than add another ding to my already tarnished reputation. They had previously made clear that my poor language skills defined a major character flaw, from their viewpoint.)
Great! We made it through the lunch hours, the clerk returns with the correct paperwork to complete the transaction, signatures are captured, the last of the money is exchanged and safely tucked into the patriarch’s mid-century sport coat. I am the proud new owner of two acres, fifty olive trees, a very sick little vineyard and a gorgeous view!!! We are all smiling and shaking hands and it’s time to return to Bagnoregio with the same amount of shouting and berating of me about my poor language skills as on the drive earlier. But this drive is much easier for me for I am now through the difficult part of this whole event. Or so I thought. Oh you thought this was the last chapter?