Sean\’s Sicily

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Posts Tagged ‘Catania

Wedding in Sicily – done with the planning, now begins the paying!

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After a couple of months of planning, my wedding is really starting to get close.  So close in fact, that now they paying begins 🙂

Obviously Sonia has already found and paid for her dress.  She has to make an appointment for a fitting in April, but she wants to see it sooner so she can refresh her memory and buy all the girly accessories that she needs.

The reception is being held at a place called Villa Mantegna in Trecastagni – these guys have a famed bar in Catania, so they’ve a reputation.   Plus, Sonia’s aunt and mum have heard good things about Mantegna, so hopefully all will go down well there!  We’ve got a few hundred euro on account, and Ignazio and I will split the final bill based on the headcount.

We’ve completed the hand-made invitations.  Ignazio is delivering them by ones and twos to his relatives in far-flung and remote corners of Sicily.  I need to figure out how much the invites cost us in the end, but that’s the subject for another post.

The bomboniere have been selected, by Cascella on Via Giuffrida, which everyone approves of, and whilst not Caltigirone (of which we found undeniably beautiful pieces with an undeniably high price-tag) it’s very typical of the Sicilian style and equally useful for our Irish guests as well as the Italian ones.  We’ve put down a few hundred euro on account and have to pick them up late in April.  We’re splitting that bill based on headcount too – Ignazio ordered up 40 more than Sonia and I wanted, plus another 20 sets of the flower-thingie-with-sweets, to give to relatives and friends who don’t make the wedding. 

The florist has been hired, Di Fiore in Fiore.  As they are friends of Andrea, they gave us a really good price, plus the security of knowing that we can trust them to deliver.  Contact details on the website.  We went for a minimal classical package, as the church is really small, so too many flowers would overwhelm everything.

I went out yesterday with Sergio and Allessia to find myself a suit.  After humming and hawing a bit, I decided on a suit in Albanese, on Corso Italia – the classic Catanese gentlemen’s outfitters.  The other on offer was a Burburry, in Papini, another classic Catanese outfitters.  That one I liked quite a bit, but it was Burburry, and it was more expensive.  So, um, thanks, but no thanks.  I left a few hundred on account with Albanese and have to go back next Saturday for fitting and paying half, then have to pick it up before the wedding and pay the rest.

So now I have to buy shoes, 1 pair, black.  Had a look today in Portalis and didn’t find anything I liked, only one shop had anything remotely decent, and they had plastic soles.  Um. No thanks.

I did however find some lovely watches for gifts… but that’s another blog too 🙂  Speaking of watches, Ignazio is insisting on buying me a watch for the wedding, which is traditional here.  Insisting, I say, but I’m not protesting too much 🙂  And that’s another blog – sorry, but I can’t write everything in this blog, can I???

So all in all, I’m nearly done with the wedding prep.

Except that I also have to buy cufflinks in steel, silver or white gold. 

And a belt, black, leather.  And that’s it…

Oh yeah, rings.  Gold.  Two.  Must get down to DiStefanos again.  Um, I think that’s it.

Oops, almost forgot to organise the B&B for the family.  Jeez, I’m not nearly done at all!  Aiuuuuuuto!

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How much will an English-speaking Notaio charge for a signature?

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One of the perils of living in Italy is the endless beaurocracy.  The lines.  Taking a number and waiting your turn.  The paperwork.  The forms.  The lines.  The correct way of doing things, and the quick way (if you know the right people).

Getting married, of course, is no different.  One of the many forms I have to produce is the Nulla Osta, saying that I’m free to get married (not already being married to some other unlucky lass).  Which is easy enough, I just download the form from the Department of Foreign Affairs at home.  I even have the name of the extremely helpful lady in the department who looks after these things (here’s a shoutout to Peggy Dingley!).  There is a catch though.  Of course there is!

The form comes with a statutory declaration, which needs to be authenticated.  In Italy that means a Notaio.  But does it?  Sonia had her doubts.  So I called up the Embassy and got a call back from another helpful lady (what is it about Irish civil servants and helpfulness?  Are they insane?  They clearly went to a different orientation class than their Italian counterparts!) who explained that an Italian notary is perfectly acceptable.  Except…

“Most of them won’t do it because the form is in English”

And in fact we called up a local notary who refused point-blank to authenticate anything in English.  The secretary did however point us to a notary in Catania city centre who might help.

So Sonia and I went along one rainy evening to Via Carcaci and ended up in front of the very same crumbling palace where recently we’d been to a food exhibition.  Deja Vu!  In fact I’d noticed a sign for a notary public there and thought “jeez, that guy must be around for decades!” and had visions of an ancient guy behind a huge desk, with towers of dusty paperwork files all over the place, like a film noir.

Anyway the office of Notaio Vigneri were nothing like what I’d imagined.  After waiting an age for the secretary to finish on the phone, she informed us that the notaio would authenticate a foreign-language document, that we should complete it and return when we were done.  So Sonia (clever Sonia) asked “So if we complete it now, could Notaio Vigneri look at it today?”  Of course he could!  After another short wait we were introduced to Notaio Vigneri, a very distinguished looking gent about 60, who readily agreed and thus we were escorted to a beautiful library filled with at least 20 years of bound records. 

Meanwhile I started thinking “Hang on, how much is this gonna cost?” I was thinking €50, or maybe €60.  Sonia laughed.  She was thinking in the hundreds.  Hundreds of euro for a signature?? I coulda got a plane to Dublin!  I should have gotten a plane to Dublin!  Damn.

Notaio Vigneri took us into his office, a big room full of dark antique furniture and a massive desk.  Not a dusty pile of paper in sight.  He read the document and fill out his part and give it to another secretary to type up.  As he went out of the room, this second secretary asked me to look at what she had typed to make sure it was ok.  I gave it the once over and scratched out a line (“or has been identified to me by ___ who is personally known to me”), but Sonia admonished me “No, he left that in, so leave it alone!”  Oh, ok.

When Notaio Vigneri returned, he scrutinised the secretary’s handiwork – and scratched out the same line!  Then he corrected a few spelling mistakes – in English mind you – and grammer errors.  The secretary looked at me with daggers in her eyes!  Sonia died trying not to laugh – the poor secretary was probably hoping that I would save her from public embarrassment, and I’d failed completely.  Oh well.

So the corrected document arrived, got stamped, got signed, all done, thank you.  Notaio Vigneri talked to us briefly about why I was in Sicily, work or what?  I pointed at Sonia and said “For her” and Sonia melted.  🙂  I mentioned that the Embassy had said it might be difficult to get a notaio to authorise the document, and he explained an old law meant that Notai could only authorise documents in Italian, but that had been repealed several years ago and now a notaio is allowed to authorise documents in any language, but most notai are still reluctant to do so for various reasons.

After all that, we were again at the reception desk and asked the secretary for the bill.  The Notaio popped out of his office in a flash.

“Oh no, I said you could go.”  Sonia didn’t quite understand so he went on; “Nothing.  Congratulations for your wedding!”

Sonia insisted on paying but he refused.  I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I shook his hand, said “Grazie, Notaio”, and scarpered.

Afterwards we spoke to Sergio who confirmed that for something like this, a Notaio could ask for up to €500.

So here’s a big thanks to Notaio Vignere, Via Caraci, Catania.  If you need a helpful notaio in Catania who speaks excellent English, we’re recommending him.  Because sometimes, when I’m tired of being the stupid foreigner that everyone rips off at every turn, someone like Notaio Vigneri reminds me that the average Sicilian has a huge heart, just like my Sonia.

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Not a total disaster

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Following on from my last post about the murky world of Italian bureaucracy, Sonia went down to the Comune in Catania to ask there – reasonably thinking that they handle more foreigners in Catania than in Gravina, where we are.  And sure enough, while the €5,000-in-an-Italian-bank-account is an unmovable rock, the other “2” in this catch-22 wasn’t – a codice fiscale can be obtained from the Foreigners Office of some vague Italian goverment agency.  So it’s down to them first thing tomorrow morning to see what the story is.

The moral of this story is to not take the word of a single bureaurcrat in the huge system of the Italian state.  Treat Italian bureaucrats like a bad diagnosis – always get a second (and third, and fourth) opnion.

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Written by seancasaidhe

November 6, 2008 at 5:31 pm

Vrooom

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Vrooom

Originally uploaded by sean.casaidhe

Damn I really need to blog more – instead of aimlessly surfing the internet at lunch, I need to get some blogs in 🙂

I mean, in the last few weeks I’ve been to a BBQ out in the country, watched timetrials for a rally, watched a local Palio in Cesaró, been to Marzamemi, checked out places for a reception near Catania… oh, and wrote a bloody big report for Open Uni (at least 2 hours every night! Thanks Sonia!).

Help, I’m too busy to blog!!

Also too busy for Flickr, I’ve taken several hundred photos and haven’t found the time to post one to Flickr!

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Written by seancasaidhe

September 9, 2008 at 11:58 am