We’re still in the process of furnishing our new apartment. The place we settled on “only” had a kitchen. You see, in Italy, unfurnished really means that. There is nothing inside at all, and one purchases “a kitchen”, including sink, shelves, stove, fridge and other appliances separately. This is clearly prohibitively expensive, and limits one’s mobility should one ever desire to move. Of course, most people here don’t, but that’s a long story…

In any case, we passed up several furnished apartments because we really liked the location and layout of the place we chose, but now we have to buy all the furniture for it, which is proving to be a chore.

My friend Andrea was nice enough to offer to drive, so we packed into his Fiat 600, and drove off down the A14 Autostrada towards the Ikea store in Bologna to see how their prices stack up. Supposedly, there is going to be an Ikea opening up in Padova some time soon, although there was a big debate about whether it was really such a good thing or not, mostly centered around the fact that the local government whisked their application through the normally tortuous beaurocracy (in less than 6 months!), and that of the other merchants who would be in competition with the large chain. I can imagine they are worried, what with the prices they charge, and how much cheaper Ikea ended up being than the local places where we looked.

The weather has been horribly hot for the past week, and so of course we stopped to buy large quantities of water to keep cool on the highway, which led to an ‘experiment’ on my part.

A bit of history: when Ilenia and I were in California, driving around one warm evening, Ilenia started to open a nice, fresh Corona that we’d just picked up at the supermarket. Of course, I shouted what the hell was she doing, and to put the bottle away before the cops busted me for driving around with an open container! This led to one of those moments of ‘cultural understanding’ where she wanted to know what kind of stupid law we had about having alcohol in the car if the driver wasn’t drinking anything.

Back in the present, back in Italy, I realized that I had the freedom to drink a beer while riding in the car (Andrea was driving), and so put it to the test. Despite the novelty, I must report that it wasn’t really very exciting. Maybe it’s better with a whole six pack, some guns, and a pickup truck. At least it was cold though.

I’m not a big fan of shopping, but I actually liked Ikea. They have a lot of the good things about big American chains – low prices, convenient hours, good selection. They combine this with Nordic concern for making sure their employees are well taken care of (so they say, at least), and concern for families (doubtless their biggest customers), and the environment. Outside their store, they even had “family parking spots”, although I’m not sure quite what that is supposed to mean. Anyway, we dutifully carted away as much stuff as we could squeeze into the car, and will surely be back for more.

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