|The Italian stand-off|
― David Milch
If I have one purpose in coming to Italy, I think it's to make God laugh. I make plans for my groups to do something, and we usually have the opportunity to experience some grand hiccup in a few of the plans. I figure God is having slow days and needs something to brighten them up.
Now that Group #3 has been here a few days, we decided to take a short train ride to Faenza, home of the International Museum of Ceramic Art. Before you laugh at that, let me tell you that it is a phenomenal museum and worth the trip to see it. First, however, we had to get there, and to get there we needed to take the bus to the train station and head out on the 10:35 east to Ancona (with stops all over the place).
We got to the bus stop around 9:50 about two minutes after the #11 passed by. Since #11 buses stop every seven minutes, I wasn't concerned. The next bus was due to come by in five minutes, so, we were safe. The #19 stopped, as did the #14. Even a #23 came by. The seven minutes grew to ten, then twelve.
Suddenly, we noticed a stand-off blocking traffic down the street from us (Photo above). A woman wanted to park in a space, and a man was guarding it for a car or truck that was not in sight. The woman honked, and the man turned his head. The woman inched forward, and the man just stood there. She honked; he glared. They yelled at each other. She shook her fist. He turned his head. The cars she was blocking honked at her, and she inched forward again. He didn't move.
|Piazza del Popolo where they hold the weekly market on Tuesdays....until 1:30|
I was concerned because it was, at this point, 10:07, and that was the last bus we could catch that would get us to the train station in time for the 10:35 train. Cars started going around the woman, snarling traffic now in both directions for a few minutes. Still no bus #11. Two #19s came by within a minute of each other, as did a #14. A woman who had been standing there when we walked up asked me where the bus was. I had no idea, of course. When a second #14 pulled up, she asked the driver, and he shrugged his shoulders and shut the bus door.
Meanwhile, the lady driver and the man were still caught in a stand-off over the parking space although the woman finally backed across the street and double-parked. She opened her window and yelled something at the guy who ignored her yet again. Finally a small truck approached, put its blinker on, and the man moved out of the way. The truck started to move to back into the space, and the lady started to pull her car across the street again. The truck won that race handily, and the lady backed up again and roared off as she shook her fist.
We had, at this point, been standing there more than 30 minutes when a #11 bus finally got through. Unfortunately, it was packed to the rafters with people, and the only way we were going to get on was to ride on the outside of the bus. We decided to walk to the train station to catch the 11:35 train.
|Snagglepuss snarled at me while I took his photo.|
Fast-forward about 10 minutes and six blocks, and we saw a bus #11 heading in our direction. The next bus stop was two blocks in front of us, but the bus was stuck in yet another traffic jam of some sort. We started to power-walk toward the stop. Two perfectly timed red lights and heavy traffic slowed #11 down enough that we actually made it and hopped on the bus. Unfortunately, the bus was quite full, so we were squished in there with two thousand other people, one of whom resembled Anthony Hopkins's character in "Silence of the Lambs." I looked to make sure he didn't have fava beans and chianti on his lap.
When we reached the stop where we had to get off to walk to the train station, two bus officials decided to start checking everyone's bus tickets. Of course, they stood right in the aisle and blocked the exit. (On Italian buses, one enters either in the front or back and leaves from the middle.) I had to push my way off. Twyla jumped out of the back door, and Ron and Kerri got swallowed up in a mix of young kids, mothers, the ticket checkers, and old ladies who refused to move. I ran to the back door, but people had climbed on, so Ron and Kerri could go neither forward nor backward.
The exit doors closed as the bus prepared to take off WITH Ron and Kerri still in limbo. Far be it from me to get hysterical (NO LAUGHING!), but I pounded on the doors. The driver didn't open them. Somehow, Kerri made one last push, and the two of them were able to get past the ticket guys and two little old ladies who didn't want to move.
"I was ready to push that lady over," Ron said.
"You looked panicked," Kerri said to me.
"I'm done with buses," Ron added.
"It was pretty funny," Twyla laughed.
I started breathing again.
|A busy street in Faenza|
I walked to the ticket counter and asked how much tickets cost.
"We just closed," the woman rudely told me.
"We closed at 1:30 today," she snapped again.
"The website said you're open all day," I pleaded trying not to beat my head on the counter.
"We closed at 1:30." She turned to talk to someone else.
|Twyla reading a great magazine in Piazza del Popolo|
"No, we went there. They told me it closed at 1:30 today," I advised her.
"Who told you? It's open all day." She showed me the pamphlet for the museum with hours clearly stating it is open 10:00-17:00.
"I know what it says," I told her, "but the rude woman at the desk told me they closed at 1:30 today."
She called the museum and talked to someone for a few minutes. "You're right. They closed at 1:30 today because there was a problem." Of course I was right. The brutish woman basically threw us out. "You must come back tomorrow," the ceramist continued. "The museum is wonderful."
Fat chance of that happening. Tomorrow we head to Florence. Besides, Faenza is now on my blacklist.