Friday, November 22, 2013

A nice place to visit...

So, here's what it's like to "run an errand" in Rome:

Still in your jammies and having your tea, you get a text message in the morning from the Apple Store in Rome saying your computer's fixed and ready to be picked up.

(Apple Store is in a neighbourhood in Rome that is a transit dead-zone, but you've been cut off from the outside world for three days and are desperate.)

You get on the 11:50 train into town, arrive Ostiense station 1 pm.

Get on Metro Linea B.

Switch to Linea A.

Switch to tram at the Flaminian Gate tram stop.

Realising you will not make it before riposo, you call the Apple Store from the tram and beg them to wait for you. A gypsy gets on and starts playing his accordion. You sit for the rest of the trip alternately considering offering him 20 Euros to shut up or simply gripping him by the collar and pitching him and his horrible noise-box bodily off the tram. Finally, you get up and move to another seat further away from the grating racket. (Is it actually a rule that you're only allowed to play O Sole Mio and the Godfather Theme on the accordion? I'd like to see the regulation.)

You are now in a neighbourhood in Rome outside the Aurelian walls where everything looks exactly the same as everything else. You get off the tram at the wrong stop, get lost and waste 20 minutes walking in the wrong direction.

You arrive at the Apple Store 1:45. They have waited for you (a miracle). You are at last re-united with your True Love, and take a moment to test it. Ooops! the new trackpad hasn't been connected properly. You are told the technico has gone for lunch. The nice Apple Store Lady who gave you directions on the phone, suggests a restaurant to have lunch in.

You have lunch at an over-priced Sicilian place. The nice Apple Store Lady calls you and says that the computer really is ready this time.

You retrieve it, pay the 400E, and leave, feeling for the first time in a week that your personal world perhaps isn't falling apart after all.

You get back to the tram line by 3 pm only to realise that the one you came here on is one-way and there is no sign telling you where to find the tram going back where you started (or to any part of the City you recognise). You twirl around helplessly for a full minute before accepting your fate and wandering off to try to find a bus... or something.

You find another tram line and get on tram. It takes you to a bus loop you've never heard of, where there is a bus labelled (thank God!) "910 Termini". Brimming with hope, you get on and bask in the glow of the knowledge that you can wing it when you really need to. You are a fearless explorer who can Handle Things.

The bus trundles uncertainly through the parts of Rome no one cares about, mostly inching along, wedged into the City's perpetual traffic jam, at less than a walking pace. You briefly consider getting out and running alongside for the exercise.

You arrive at Termini train station at 4:02 and find the departures board. You see that there is a Pisa train (fast) leaving in precisely 8 minutes. From the front entrance of Termini to Binario 28 takes exactly 12 minutes to walk. You sigh, and, seeing that there is a slow train to Civi leaving at 4:45, you hit the book store to kill the time.

You buy a new book, and make the 4:45 train, plug the Beloved into the power outlet by your seat and settle in with your internet stick.

Train (which is not late!) gets you home by 6:20.

It has taken you 6.5 hours to pick up your computer from the shop.

You now get to start the work for the day.



Anonymous said...

I know an Austrian woman who lived in Rome for several years but went home because the sheer hassle of getting around the town and indeed the sheer hassle of doing anything other than eating, drinking or going to mass just got her down too much.

James C. said...

One word: smartphone. Even the Roman transport system is loaded onto the Google Maps app! As for accuracy, well, it's as accurate as the schedules. But it's good for when you are lost in Soulless Suburban Hinterland.

I was just in Italy last week. Getting from Naples to Battistina metro station (to rendezvous with my brother coming from Fiumicino) in the Friday Roman rush hour was a real pain. Getting out of the city and up to Orvieto by car at 5pm on a Friday was even worse.

Still, Italy has its pleasures! I'm back in Englandnow, and I miss it. And the traffic here (in southeastern England), is just as bad anyway.

BillyHW said...

Forza Italia!

a Christopher said...

An accordionist should be able and happy to play Mozart's Rondo a la Turca at the drop of a fez. If not, withering icy glares are merited.