Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rome is Hard for Everybody

Throughout the years that we have travelled extensively in Italy, people in the different areas have told us about their local points of interest. When they invariably ask where we live in Italy and we say Roma, they will say, “Oh, yes, Roma.” Their eyes will glass over and their head will spin as they add, “Roma is bella.”

All Italians seem to have the same complaints about the eternal city, it’s congestion and the difficulty in getting around, but they always end with a deep breathy sigh and the dreamy conclusion that it is many things, but above all it is “bella”, beautiful.

We got the rental car back to the office by the train station in the heart and liver of this squirming chaos. Not easy to do. Streets are not marked the way they would be in America and other civilized areas of the globe, with signs on the corner that are easily visible. Here there is an obligatory large delivery truck parked on every corner. Traffic signs are hidden, one way streets alternate direction frequently, everything is marked in the peculiar Italian fashion.

I’ve had Italians tell me many times it is not easy for anyone, Romans included, to drive in Rome. So going out of the city with a rental car was hard enough, and it was more difficult getting back.

When we returned from our adventure outside of Rome that same afternoon and found our way back to the rental car parking garage, we parked in the required space on the fourth floor. Then we took the elevator down to the office. Meri used the bathroom while I had to go back up to the fourth floor. I forgot to drop the car keys off in a box for the rental company near where we had parked.

I thought it was very clever of a me to find the box and the slot to drop the keys into. There were not a lot of indicators.

When I came back down to the first floor there was now an attendant in a glassed-in box looking alert and occupied. I saw a restroom for men and noticed there was no handle on the door. Glancing over I saw the Women’s door had a handle. I nodded toward the bathroom. The guy behind the glass used a slot on the counter and slipped me a metal door handle with a square block on it that fit where the bathroom door handle goes. I have taken a few old fashioned door handles apart so I knew how to use the thing he gave me. How do others do it?

Later, on the way out, I stopped again at the attendant’s box to drop off the door handle and asked the guy behind the glass if tourists generally had difficulties. He said yes. Difficulty with the door handle, and with finding a gas station to refill the car, and with finding the way back to the rental garage also. He said the Italians have trouble. He added that even the people that work there have difficulty getting to work. Nothing is easy for anybody, ever, anywhere.

I said, “Oh, yes, I know, but Roma is bella.” We both laughed.

1 comment:

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Cool story, I wanted to comment on this last week but I got called away.