Guest article by Rivka Cymbalist, author of The Birth Conspiracy.
A family from Canada, we started our Lunigiana adventure in 2003. When I first saw our place it was completely green, except for a small patch of orange that I later found out was the rusted corrugated metal covering the thatched roof of the barn. We cleared and deconstructed and slept in tents, and slowly but surely fixed the place up, with the help of our five sons, friends, and volunteer helpers.
In the beginning, it was a pleasure not to be near the phone. As a midwife, I am glued to my phone and pager during my work months: all day, all night, and all the time. It was a little complicated to do banking and such but we would go into town and use the Internet every so often. I remember a phone booth on the road from Aulla to Fosdinovo that I used quite regularly.
As the children grew and didn’t come every summer, and as my work grew into teaching and coordinating, I found I needed the internet more and more. Then the fun began! I started looking for a cheap and effective way to get access from our place, high up on the mountain, and I discovered a few interesting things.
- Internet cafes: these were my first choice and very inconvenient, usually crowded and involved a long wait, and of course I was using a shared computer.
- The chiavetta: we’ve had various chiavette (I think you call them dongles in England and sticks in Canada) with various networks, but none really worked unless we were in town.
- Wi-Fi: we heard about a Lunigiana-wide wi-fi deal. We visited their offices and filled out a lot of paperwork only to discover that our place up on the mountain is out of range.
- The pocket wifi (also known as mobile wifi): this is perfect if you are visiting – the device can be rented for 4 euros a day. Or you can buy one … we decided to buy one.
We went down to the superstore and picked out an unlocked pocket wi-fi gizmo – unlocked so that if the network strength changes we could always use a different provider’s sim card. We bought the gizmo. Although we had the number of my husband’s codice fiscale, we didn’t have the actual document with us. Or his passport. Even although the Italian anti-terrorist legislation was changed in 2013 to make internet access easier, this particular network still requires a copy of these two documents in order to buy a sim card. OK, back home on the mountain, gizmo in hand, with a free sim card with five days of usage.
A few days later, we popped in with all the documentation to finally purchase our sim card. We had in in our hands… we gave the clerk our credit card and … the credit card reader was broken. A week after that, we rushed in to the store, excited to jump into the 21st century. Reader still broken. Patienza.
Well, we figured, we have the gizmo, now we just need to go to any old electronics shop and buy a sim card. So we got back into the old jalopy (Uno, very old, almost in the Intensive Care Unit), drove down the 52 hairpin curves to our nearest electronics retailer where the clerk insisted that we could not buy an internet-ready sim card, but for the same price of the bellezza di 49 euro we could buy another pocket wi-fi gizmo, a sim card, and two months worth of 7 gig a month.
We brought it home and crawled slowly into the 21st century. No 3G, no 2G, but living with the Edge works just fine. For now.
Internet on the Mountain appeared on Ciao Lunigiana on 14 August 2014