My Annual Question

It seems that every time I return to Italy after a few months in the US, I can count on something new in town that leaves me asking, “What the hell were they thinking?????” This year’s “something new” is that the mysterious “they” – in their infinite wisdom – decided to put an electric car recharging station in the Piazza della Repubblica.

To refresh your memory – 2 years ago I wrote about the fact that “they” had managed to do away with traffic in this poor piazza, while at the same time, making it much LESS inviting. When I wrote that piece, it never occurred to me that in 2015, it would look exactly as forlorn as it did in 2013. The best that can be said for “them” during the intervening period is that “they” have at least managed to water the few sparse plants they’ve scattered around, rather than having their planters full of dried twigs.

As you can see, lots of space, very little in the way of comfort or greenery.

As you can see, lots of space, very little in the way of comfort or greenery.

And now, rather than doing some small thing to enhance this poor Cinderella of Orvieto’s 4 main piazze, they put in an electric car recharger.

I asked friends if somehow during the short time I was away, Orvieto had been swept up in the electric car craze, but no – none had been spotted in the area and an Italian friend estimated that there were probably less than 1,000 in the whole country.

Someone suggested that the government was just being pro-active…..anticipating the day when electric cars will be as common as cell phones. This was amusing for several reasons:

First — being pro-active does not come naturally to Italians in general (you only go to the dentist when you have an excruciating tooth ache….and it better be REALLY excruciating), and pro-activity in the government is for all practical purposes totally nonexistent.

Second — politicians always claim the treasury has no money, so if they were ever going to start being pro-active, why would their first attempt be something that is so uncertain and so far in the future.  It’s like putting money down on the venue for your daughter’s wedding the day she’s born.

Third — by the time electric cars enjoy any kind of popularity — assuming they ever do — this particular recharging station will be an unrecognizable pile of rust.

Years from now, this will be proof that at one time, the recharge station was bright and clean.

Years from now, this photo will be proof that at one time, the recharge station was bright and clean.

OK — then perhaps the electric company, ENEL, funded the installation. Hmmm…..I still have to go with the rust and disintegration taking over before they ever see 1 of the Euro Zone’s equivalent to a penny.  Besides — they certainly would have had to get permission from the town, so at most, they would only deserve half the blame.

But let’s move on from why this was done and look at the logic of placing it in the Piazza della Repubblica.  Traffic can only go around a small edge of the piazza. To their credit, they did have the foresight to put the recharging station in the line of traffic, but the station has only 2 allotted spots. What happens if – miracle of miracles – electric cars really DO take off. What would you do if you pulled up and the spots were being used? You can’t park and wait your turn because this not a parking piazza. There are, however, 2 other piazze that you can get in and out of much more easily, that do have parking available and that would be much better places to put recharging stations…….IF one is ever needed in the town center.

The 2 parking spots, right in front of the bank.  You can recharge while getting money from the ATM,

The 2 green (get it????) parking spots, right in front of the bank. You can recharge while getting money from the ATM.

So as of now, my conclusion is that this decision to put the station in Piazza della Repubblica was misguided whether electric cars are the next smart phone or a quickly passing fad. Which gets me back to my original question: What the hell were they thinking?????