When our self-cleaning electric oven exploded, shattering its glass front, my family stared aghast at the unexpected damage.

I, on the other hand, was philosophical. "It's Italian, what do you expect?"

I followed this up by reminding everybody about our other mishaps with Latin manufacturing. Towel rails with chronic element failures, finally ditched because the manufacturer had gone out of business, leaving consumers without any spare parts. And what about our other fancy Italian stove that tried to raze our holiday house on Christmas morning when the thermostat failed?

Finally, I reminded them about our Swedish washing machine that stopped working - just out of warranty. When the serviceman arrived, he informed us we were unlucky to have the model with the Italian motor. The only comfort he could offer was that the Swedish company had now switched to German replacement parts.


This all suggests one commonsense rule for all things Italian - it's okay to buy their great design, as long as it doesn't involve anything with moving mechanical parts.

Such as the very expensive Panerai watch purchased in my absolute tosser days, a watch that never kept good time and ended up losing a very expensive clasp in a most appropriate place, the Rotorua municipal rubbish tip.

I should have learned my lesson in my more youthful days. One of my first cars was a diminutive Fiat; great design and fun to drive - if you could persuade the engine to start. Fortunately, my then girlfriend was a competent mechanic. While I stood effetely on the roadside verge, like the stereotypical dim-witted blonde, my lady friend was under the hood, covered in oil, tinkering with plugs and carburettors in an effort to get us mobile again.

When the relationship ended the car had to go as well; it was simply too unreliable to dare travel anywhere without a certified mechanic as co-passenger.

We have now been oven-less for eight long weeks. Eight weeks of glass replacement promises from Italy, eight weeks of optimistic emails followed by equally negative updates.

Last week we were told the model's serial number did not match their production records and could I send a photograph proving it's their product, before they considered any further assistance?

This week the news has changed again. Now we've generously been offered a brand-new replacement oven. It's all very Italian, but what else would you expect?