Thursday, June 9, 2011

European Adventures: All Roads Lead to Rome

Our first trip to Italy was a dream come true.  I planned our itineray, used frequent flyer miles and a timeshare exchange for the accomodations and booked the rental car online.  We were ready!  We landed in Rome on a beautiful sunny morning and that's when the fun began.  But to do this story justice, it needs to come from the perspective of my chauffer/husband - the driver and navigator who drove us through the country. 

Tom's Take:

“Driving in Rome will test every fiber of your marriage”  Pete B.
Our dear friend Pete and his lovely wife Wendy are world travelers and wonderful people. It would take Pete less time to tell you where he hasn’t been then where he has been. Pete is a New York Italian and has been a great influence and travel adviser.  When I told him Sandy and I were going to Rome, he was excited and asked our itinerary. When we mentioned we would be driving from Rome to Soriano, he paused and said “Driving in Rome will test every fiber of your marriage”.  I kind of laughed him off, and we talked more about the trip. But his comment kept ringing in my head. Surely it can’t be that bad. I mean, I have driven in may countries and I’m a good driver.  I’ve driven in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, LA. I’ve driven in Honduras and Cayman (they drive on the left side), heck I even drove from Colorado all the way to Cabo San Lucas with my buddy Jim, how bad could it possibly be?
I soon discovered it would be easier to defuse a nuclear bomb, blind folded, with my fingers taped together riding down the Colorado River in a raft, then driving your way around Rome. Here in the good old USA on every street corner there is a sign telling you what street you’re on and what street you’re crossing.  Somebody should bring that idea up to the
Italian street
department. Oh sure, every few blocks on the side of the building is an old plaque with the name of the street.  The sign is old and high above the street level and probably placed there by Caesar himself.  By the time you find a sign you have already passed where you needed to turn, and intersections -- oh my.  Most don’t have a stop sign, you just  close your eyes and go through (at least I did).  It takes both of you to get out of that town. Quite often the driver behind me would be so close I could smell his breath and count his whiskers. 
Pete could have shared this information with me, but he wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as letting me find out for myself.   We finally got out of Rome and found our way to Soriano, but to this day neither one of us could tell you how we did it or what route we took. After a beautiful and restful week in the countryside of Italy we drove to Florence.  Sandy asked if we might need directions to the hotel we were headed to. Of course I said “No, Florence couldn’t possibly be worse than Rome”.  One more piece of information Pete could have passed on. Thanks Pete.

Travel Tip:  Always book your rental car before heading overseas.  You will get the best rates that way!

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