Remember my Where’s The Office incident on Day 1 of my time here in Rome? I’m finding that Italians aren’t great at giving clear instructions. And now I can tell you about The Door incident.

The apartment I’m renting is part of an 18th Century villa. There are two apartments in the villa and the owners live upstairs. The landlady is lovely and on the day I moved in, she gave a ton of instructions about fuse boxes, how to open windows, how to turn on alarms and so on. I know she was in a rush to go to her country estate (country estate? why didn’t she invite me?!). But she forgot to give me a major instruction – how to open the FRIGGIN BLOODY FRONT DOOR.

So the landlady and her hubby leave for the country the next morning, after I’d already left to go to the office. I shut the door of the apartment behind me never dreaming I’d have dramas later that evening. I get back around 6.00pm.

Now, you have to know that the landlady is a bit paranoid about security and I don’t blame her. The villa is right opposite Circo Massimo (or Circus Maximus) and on a busy road (but surprisingly, it’s super quiet in the apartment). It’s in an upmarket area so I understand her worries. One of the reasons hubs chose this apartment for me is so I’d be safe and sound living in a foreign city.

You enter the property through a heavy metal, locked gate on the street. The two apartments have a common external door, which you unlock. My apartment is to the immediate left and there’s a huge red metal front door. So 6.00pm I’m ready to enter the apartment for the first time. Turn the key. You’d think it would be simple wouldn’t you. But nooooooooooooo.

Ten minutes later, I was still turning the key this way and that. Having conniptions. Kittens. Imagining myself locked out for several days until the landlady came back. Then I remembered she said that she never leaves the villa unoccupied upstairs when she’s away. Someone always stays there. So I use the intercom to contact this person who speaks not a word of English.

Down he comes and I carry on about the FRIGGIN BLOODY DOOR. He turns the key several times and, hey presto, the bloody thing opens. I feel a tad embarrassed and wonder why on earth it works for him and not for me. He smiles and walks off. I go in, change, then go out to seek some dinner (other than pasta). I did think to myself I sure hope I can get back in and don’t have to call him again.

Well, you know what happened don’t you dear reader! An hour or so later, I’m back and grappling with The Door again. I turned the key as he did, this way and that. I pushed the door. I kicked the door. I begged the door to open. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. I sighed, took a breath or two, then tackled it again. Thinking to myself: are you stupid? You can’t open a FRIGGIN BLOODY DOOR?

Short of getting on my knees and praying to the door gods, I had no choice but to summon the poor chap from upstairs again. Down he came and proceeded to turn the key this way and that. The door opened. He’s prattling away in Italian and I’m saying in English: “isn’t the door a bit ridiculous? I’m sure your other tenants have had trouble?”.

And then he slowed down. Spoke slowly in Italian. And I could see that he was turning the key to the right four times; then stopping and pulling the door towards him a bit; turning the key for a fifth time; then pushing the door inwards; and it opened. I grabbed the key from him and went through the key turning ritual. After a couple of tries, it worked. Italian dude slinks off. I slink into the apartment, swearing and cursing.

The next night, I grappled with The Door again. After a couple of attempts, I managed to get in and noticed FOUR FRIGGIN BLOODY LOCKS on the door. Hence, you turn the key four times. Now, is this paranoid security or what?

Would have been useful if the landlady had taken me through the door opening rituals before she left. Ah, Italy.

Foyer area of apartments in villa. The decor is pretty much 18th Century mixed with modern pieces.

The friggin' bloody door.

The external door to the two apartments. Must found out about the 1600 date because the villa is 18th Century.

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