by Melinda Gallo

A long walk to pay for SKY

I don't keep track of the bills to pay because they seem to come every few months without fail. All of them usually give me a few weeks to pay, except SKY (which is our Italian Satellite TV company) where I usually have only a few days. I received a letter last week from SKY telling me that I didn't pay my bill and that I needed to go to a ricevitoria SISAL (SISAL receiving office) to pay. I knew that I couldn't pay on the phone because they only accept Italian credit or bank cards. So, when I called SKY, they gave me three addresses of which the only one I knew for sure was the one I went to last year to pay for the SKY installation. The woman told me to pay both bills, the past one and the next one that I haven't yet received and is due at the end of the month.

Living in Florence :: A long walk to pay for SKY

I figured that I'd go before lunch since it was starting to rain and usually in the afternoons I like to stay home. I went down via S. Egidio past the Santa Maria Nuova hospital, which I've never been to, but usually see the ambulances go there. Then, I turned on via dei Servi toward Piazza Santissima Annunziata to the tabaccheria/ricevitoria (tobacco shop/receiving office) in via degli Alfani.There weren't many people outside, but I still had to watch people's umbrellas while trying not to step in any doggie poop.

The tabaccheria was filled with people playing the lotteria (lottery) and buying scratch cards. One woman whom I didn't notice at first was playing a slot machine that rang loudly as if she'd just won the jackpot. Another woman stood behind me waiting to cash in her scratch card, holding her card in front of her face and moving closer and closer to me with impatience.

After paying my two SKY bills, I went into a Turkish take-away where they had two Gyros machines slowly rotating. I saw their baklava in the window earlier and wanted to get some for dessert. I walked in and I told the guy, "Mi da' quattro pezzi di baklava per favore." (Can you get me four pieces of baklava please) He got a container and started putting them inside of it. "Come hai fatto per conoscere il nome del dolce?" (How did you know the name of the sweet) he asked me. "Lo so perché mi piace." (I know it because I like it) I responded, not knowing what else to say. "Ah...di solito gli italiani non sanno che si chiama baklava." (Oh...normally Italians don't know what it's called baklava.) I smiled without responding and realized that only other foreigners think I'm Italian.

On my way home, I went over my conversation with the woman from SKY. "Piazza Salvemini," she had said as well as "via del Leone," which I knew for sure was near Piazza Carmine on the other side of the Arno river. I kept saying the name of the piazza in my head, but couldn't remember why. As I walked past the only other ricevitoria that I know of in town where they sell lottery cards. I saw that they had a small piece of paper where it was printed "Pagate bollette SKY" (Pay SKY bills). I looked up and saw the sign on the building across the street and it said, "Piazza Salvemini."

Sometimes in Florence when you don't know the name of a piazza people will tell you some other landmark, like a store or trattoria. I didn't really know the name of this piazza because I know it only by the big post office on the corner and the Standa supermarket across the street. I walked all the way to via degli Alfani in the rain for nothing (although I did take the picture shown here); I could've paid my bill only a few blocks from my apartment. But at least I had my baklava, which we enjoyed after lunch today.

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