Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lookey, Lookey Italy


Traveling by train in Italy, you become very familiar with one word - ritardo. It means "delayed". And delays become even worse when there is a train strike, a common occurence in Italy.

Vernazza, Venice and Bolzano were our planned destinations. We made two out of the three before our vacation was shortened in Venice. But more about that later...

Vernazza, our first stop, is located in a very scenic part of the Cinque Terre region. A trail connecting five cliff-side towns is what draws nature lovers to this area. The five towns - Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manerola and Riomaggiore - are overrun by tourists (mostly Americans).

The food in most of the restaurants was poorly prepared and pricey. If you are not shocked by paying 10 to 15 Euros for a plate of pasta, then maybe an unsolicited 3 Euro per person bread and seating charge will do the trick. You can refuse the bread but they will still charge you.

Throughout this seven-day trip, we encountered various methods of being scammed and inconvenienced. In Vernazza, we went to a bakery and were harrassed by the owner for wanting one kind of pastry and not the one he suggested. He continued to harangue us even as we sat down to eat. At another restaurant, B ordered pasta with clams. What he got was mostly empty clam shells...

Venice, our second stop, is full of illegal street vendors peddeling counterfeit handbags. It's illegal to buy them and illegal to sell them and you don't want to be caught doing either. B was run over in a narrow alleyway by an illegal street vendor who was being chased by police. This happened fairly early on so we did not see very much of the city.

B was transported by ambulance boat to the hospital. An X-ray determined that his leg was not fractured and that he suffered contusions to his knee. On the second day, we had to find a place that sells crutches and we filed a police report against the vendor. The vendor had been arrested but they let him go with the ridiculous excuse that "he said he was under 18". He looked like he was in his late 20s.

We got a couple of souvenirs from Italy - crutches and brown socks. B had to buy brown socks because his were stolen from our room in Vernazza. We are glad to be back in Germany after this experience even though it took us 14 hours and an expensive train ticket to get back.


C N Heidelberg said...

Aw, I'm sorry to hear you had such a crappy time!!

J said...

Oh? Has Deutsche Bahn taken over the Italian rail system?

American in Oberursel said...

Hi CN, hope you are feeling better after your German hospital experience. The one good thing about the hospital in Venice was that treatment was free.
Hi J, riding Deutsche Bahn is pure luxury compared to Italian rail. We are talking 1.5 hour delays and up to 5 hour delays (as other travelers shared with us their horror stories).