Some people are blessed with being able to sleep though anything. You know the ones, they’ll emerge languorously from their rooms, boasting the best night’s sleep ever and will shrug their shoulders indifferently at the mention of police cars, fire engines and the house across the road that burnt down during the night. I have a friend who once fell asleep next to a speaker at a rave. The speaker was of rock concert proportions and the type that will almost dislodge your internal organs if you get too close. Considering what he’d ingested that evening, he was *supposed* to be awake for at least a week. While I am grateful for all the wonderful qualities that have been bestowed upon me, I often wish I could trade just one of them for the ability to sleep uninterruptedly throughout the night and not wake at the slightest noise.
It’s ironic then that I find myself living in the noisiest city in the world. I know this is a grossly over-exaggerated thought in my sleep-deprived mind, but geez Catania, you really suck at being quiet. I honestly thought that when, several months ago, I moved to an inner-courtyard room to escape the street traffic and incessant car horns, life would be more peaceful. How wrong I was.
Two floors down there is a laboratorio that makes pastries and sweets. The bakers usually arrive around four in the morning and being their work with a clattering of trays and what sounds like general catch up conversation. After about half and hour all goes quiet and it’s not long before the wonderful aroma of freshly baked cornetti wafts through the apartment.
Next on the scene are the cleaners. They come just before six twice a week to wash the corridors and stairwell. They too like to chatter and gossip, although I can’t quite work out what language they’re speaking; it’s definitely not Italian. Brooms and mops clank on the marble tiles and cleaning is done in a side-to-side motion: sweep, hit wall – bang!, back the other way – smack!
The inner courtyard of the building houses garages. The main door opens onto a tiled entrance and on the other side is a large, side-rolling door. Open both of these and you can drive from the street right into the garage area. The garages themselves are small and old, and have roller doors that need to be manually opened. They have definitely seen better days and could do with replacing, or at least oiling. Cars and Vespas come and go throughout the day and well into the night.
As morning gets underway the palazzo becomes alive with movement and voices. Front doors slam, children chatter, dogs bark. My flat mates however are always quiet and the only time I hear them is when the front door closes as they leave for university.
If this wasn’t enough day-to-day disturbances to deal with about a month ago renovations began on an apartment in my building. The walls here are made of concrete so it sounds (and feels) like they’ve been using machinery that’s part jack hammer, part grinder to remove parts of the walls. Some mornings the commotion starts as early as seven-thirty, and as my friend Kate observantly pointed out, lasts long enough for you to reach the point of not being able to get back to sleep and then abruptly stops. WTF? Does work really knock off at half nine?
So what is someone who is so sensitive to noise doing living in this city? Wouldn’t I be better off in the country, on farm, living a peaceful existence? Probably. But I love the city. I love her vibrancy and her soul. I just want her to be quiet when I say. Like that is EVER going to happen.
I’ve thrown in the towel on my current abode and in a week’s time I’m moving to a new apartment. I’ve spent the past three months scouring websites and looking at undesirable student share houses with single beds and terrible furniture, but now think I have finally found somewhere more to my taste. It’s on the top floor of a small palazzo so I will no longer be able to make up stories about the stiletto-heeled lady who current lives above me and who comes and goes at all hours of the night. There’s a large terrace with lots of sunlight and greenery, a living room with a comfy couch and finally, a double bed to sleep in. There are even regular visits from the neighbour’s cat. While I’m nervous about the move and getting to know my new flat mate I can’t wait to get there. I hope it’s quiet.