Trip Report – Italy, July 2004
In July of 2004, I returned to Italy for the first time since 2000. I traveled with my husband, who had never been to Italy. I lived in Italy for a period of three years, and thus had a very different perspective on “the Italian way” of doing things.
I have decided to write a trip report now because A) I am currently unemployed and therefore suffering ever so slightly from ennui; B) in case any information I have might be able to help someone else on their trip; and C) I like to reminisce about Italy.
Day One – Departure
So, we departed from Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport, and, as anyone who has ever been through that airport will know, chaos reigned. We had decided to go the carryon-baggage route, and I had (I thought) smartly decided to go with duffel bags instead of wheeled suitcases, because the duffel bags weighed a mere 10 ounces, thus optimizing our ability to stuff our own crap into the bags. We traveled on British Airways – they have a 13 pound limit for carryon baggage.
The duffel bags started to seem like a bad idea about 10 minutes into the trip when we were standing in the security line. The line weaved back and forth across the terminal about 15 times and I think we stood in the line for an hour and a half. My shoulder was already red by the time we went through the metal detectors.
If I recall correctly, our flight to London and our subsequent plane change was mostly uneventful.
Day Two – Arrival in Italy
We touched down in Rome to a gloriously sunshiny day, bypassed the baggage claim area, and headed outside to pick up a bus to Perugia. We headed directly to the bus area to wait. And wait. And wait. I spoke to several of the other bus drivers, asking them if there actually was a bus to Perugia and, if so, what time it generally decided to show up.
After waiting 30 minutes beyond the bus’ supposed arrival time, I decided to give up and take the train. So, on we went to Termini, where we caught a train to Foligno where we were supposed to change for a train to Perugia. We jumped on a train that everyone SAID was headed to Perugia. The train, after about 30 minutes of travel, stopped in the middle of nowhere and everyone exited the train. I asked a lovely older gentleman why everyone was exiting if we weren’t in Perugia. He said it was the end of the line for that train, but another would come along. Another train did come along, but when it finally arrived, it took us to Perugia Sant’Anna, not the main Perugia train station. No cabs or buses wait outside of Sant’Anna.
Fortunately, an entrance to the escalators that went up to the centro storico was right outside the train station. We took the escalators, and then walked up, up and up to Corso Vannucci. It was about this time that I really started to want wheels on my bag. My husband was starting to wonder why in the name of all that is holy he had come on this adventure.
We were staying at the Hotel dei Priori on Via dei Priori, just off the main drag. I had stayed in the same hotel seven years prior on my very first trip to Italy. The hotel was essentially the same as it was then. Nice interior, well kept and clean, and extremely affordable. I had booked a Junior Suite (lured by the promise of air conditioning) for 100 euros a night. We checked in, walked up the four flights of stairs to our room (the hotel has no elevator), and were greeted by a waft of tepid air. The air conditioning had not actually been turned on in anticipation of our arrival. My husband was most amused by the tiny wall unit air conditioner that was supposed to cool off our three-room suite.
We dropped off our things, washed up quickly, and decided to go to dinner. For our first night, we went to Pizzeria Etruschetto, on Corso Garibaldi, over by the Universita’ per Stranieri. These were my old stomping grounds. I first stayed in Perugia in 1997 for a two-month language immersion course, and this pizzeria was my hangout.
It turned out to be as cheap and fabulous as ever. The pizzaiolo and owner is from Naples, and the walls of the small pizzeria are decorated with images of Naples, Capri, and the rest of the Bay of Naples. We had two pizze, both margherita, and a bottle of wine. Their wine selection is not particularly skewed toward local wines, but they have a fairly decent selection of very consistent Italian wines (think Santa Margherita). I believe the entire dinner cost us 21 Euro.
We lolled our way back up the Via U. Rocchi (I swear the steepest street in all of Christendom) and back to our (now cool) Junior Suite. But the day’s adventure had not ended. No, next came the shower.
My husband, we’ll start calling him C, entered the bathroom and stared at the handheld shower head in a tub with no curtain. All things considered, he took this pretty well in stride and blithely soaped himself up and rinsed himself off. His first encounter with an Italian shower complete, we watched a few minutes of Italian television and then drifted off into sleep.
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Trip Report – Italy, July 2004