Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1008: 'I Vincitori' Learn to Get Lost in the Hills and Valleys of Italy
By Marian from New Jersey, Spring 2006
Page 15 of 15: Boo Hoo! (Saturday, May 20)
Bar Centrale, Piazza della Liberta, San Quirico
As usual, it's a real chore to do the final packing and get the suitcases into the car. This is complicated by the fact that Marc's knee, which was bothering him a bit even before the trip, has by now become very painful, and is really incapacitating him. But Cheryl and I manage the suitcases (clunk, clunk, clunk down the broad marble steps from the "piano nobile" to the street and the cars).
We set off for the Florence (Peretola) airport, aka Amerigo Vespucci. It has only recently re-opened after being shut several months for renovations. The trip is fine until we are nearly there, then suddenly we are not sure of the turns as the signs are so confusing. Marc and I are phoning each other constantly from our cars, and eventually we find the airport entrance and even the rental-car return.
But returning the car turns out to be the most difficult part of the trip (well, if you don't count the time we got really lost in the Cilento....). We have Europcar cars, and there are no empty slots for Europcar. The return lot is full of people trying to rent cars, and people trying to drive out, and it's impossible to move. So we finally, and separately, decide to park our cars just anywhere and find a Europcar person to check us in. Done!
Then we have to get, with our luggage, to the gate. Across the unpaved construction areas, into the terminal. Across the terminal to the elevators, because it turns out that departures are from the arrival level, and so on. Then we must wait in a long and irregular line to be checked in.
The setup is confusing, Alitalia is short of agents, I am tired and anxious, and I lose my temper when a Japanese tourist seems to start a new line. He is apologetic, but a young man tells him, essentially, to stay there. I tell this young man to mind his own business (this is all in Italian) as he does not work for the airline. He tells me something, ending with the observation "And you are an American". So I reply that I have observed that not only Americans are stupid, some Italians are as well.
I cannot BELIEVE that I am actually doing this, screaming at someone in the airport. However, I am embarrassed to admit that I actually enjoy being able to trade insults in Italian. Do I argue differently in Italian that I would in English? Perhaps. Perhaps another personality takes over.
At any rate, we soon check in, and eventually we even get on our plane. First a little bus, then the plane, then another bus, then we are finally at Malpensa. While we await our plane (it's a layover of a few hours) I get some coffee, my first of the day, and a panino. Then onto the flight to Newark (I somehow get a comfortable bulkhead seat) and soon we arrive. My luggage is among the first off the plane! The car picks us up, and I am soon home.
Yes, I love my home, and my house, and have missed my daughter and granddaughter. But it's time to work on that next trip (already scheduled for October). If I stay in the US, I'm unlikely to get another opportunity to argue with someone in Italian.
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