Anyone who doubts that the Italians aren’t organizationally challenged, has never had to look for an address in the City Centre. And while having both odd and even numbers on the same side of the street, and following no cardinal order, has its charms, sometimes, if you’re in a hurry, it can get downright maddening.
Ask any Italian, and you’ll discover that the reasons for this peeve are twofold, both of which are part & parcel of the entire makeup of Italian society:
1) Nostalgia – those buildings have been around since the Renaissance and so have their original numbers cast in stone. Any new additions, buildings being divided into more apartments, etc., have to fit into the original scheme. God forbid those stones are removed! And so, later buildings naturally sport later numbers, no matter where they appear on the block.
2) Bureaucracy – Renumbering the system would probably create a backlog of bureaucracy so great, it would make taking a census in India pale by comparison.
I recently sold a house in Abruzzo where things had been (smartly, or so I thought) renumbered.
- Turns out, my great aunt said she lived at no. 10, the number on the building.
- The City documents had it changed to number 18 sometime in the past (but our number in stone stayed put).
- Roaming up the street, I noticed that we were, following logically, actually no. 19 but there was already one of those, meaning the entire block from that point on would have to change their numbers, too.
- At the notary’s office to officiate the sale, it turns out that the real number of the property was 35 & 37 as listed in the Regional office records (because of little tiny lots which made up the backyard). This came as a surprise to all concerned, including the City offices (who happen to house the local post office to boot).
This whole cunundrum almost cost me the sale—-after all, it looked like I was trying to dump a property I did not even own (a fairly common fraud here).
But it’s no wonder the Post Office is so inefficient. The mail carriers must simply give up or worse, have nervous breakdowns trying to sort it all out.