At least that seems to be the case in Italy.  And there are plenty of fires. About a year ago I wrote about our neighbors’ smoke and how distressing it was.  Things have not improved.

The other day the Captain returned from a day at his labors to find a very unhappy Expatriate.  Our neighbors below began burning about 7 in the morning, and continued non-stop until 8 that evening.  We wouldn’t mind a bit if they would move their burn pile, but they persist in burning immediately below our terrace… to the point that we suspect they are doing it on purpose (oh how suspicious we are!).  The smoke envelops and seeps into the house and soon everything smells smoky and some of us get sore throats.

The Captain, after barking down at the neighbor and receiving some barking in return, decided that Enough was Enough.  The next day he visited a friend at the Police Station and was given the supposed rules for burning.  They are strict to say the least: one may burn between midnight and 6 a.m.  One may not burn less than 50 meters from another building.  One may not burn at all in July and August.  And my favorite: one may not produce any smoke from one’s fire.  Amen to that impossible rule!

Regulation in hand the Captain sought out our neighbor S.  It is his land that surrounds us, and his cuttings that are burned under our noses, though it is not he who does the actual burning.  That is done by his brother-in-law and sister.  The Captain waggled the rules under Sandro’s nose and said, “Listen.   We don’t care if you burn from dawn to dusk, but please just move your pile so that our house is not engulfed in smoke for days at a time.”  “I’m not the one burning,” replied S helpfully.  “I know,” said the Captain, “but you are the family’s representative aren’t you?”  Bingo.

Photo courtesy of http://www.lucanianews24.it

S took a look at the regulations and said, “Ah, but these don’t apply to us because we have an ulivetto, and we are allowed to burn whenever we want to maintain the orchard.  And it’s not the police, but the Forestale (forest rangers) who regulate this kind of burning.”  We’ll see about that, thought the Captain, and the next day marched down to the office of the Forestale in Rapallo, only to find that they receive the public only on Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m.

Except they don’t.  He returned on Friday, and the office was locked up tight as a drum.  Numbers for the Chief are posted, both cell and fax, and the Captain tried to send messages to both, but thus far we have heard nothing in response.

So we find ourselves in the midst of another Italian conundrum.  Who does regulate the burning?  What are our rights and responsibilities as neighbors and as burners ourselves?  A friend has suggested that it may be even more complicated than we think: there may be European Union regulations that come into play.  How exciting!  Maybe we can start an international incident.  In the meantime, there has been less burning down below since the great kerfuffle, and we have been able to enjoy the early summer breezes wafting through open windows.