Our first day in Italy was, not surprisingly, a resounding success/failure. It started with the rental car. We were assigned a car, then sent off into a parking structure.
The first car we went to was tooooo small. Six people plus luggage? Not going to happen.
I was elected to trudge back into the terminal to get another car.
The second car was tooooo muddy. Obviously the people before us had gone off-roading. And then rolled in the mud. And then got in the car and put their feet all over the upholstery. And the insides of the doors. And then filled the trunk with mud to take home.
Again I returned to the very sour woman who had given us the first two cars. She was not amused.
“We have no more cars,” she announced, before I even had the chance to tell her the issue. “But,” I said as she interrupted, “There is nothing I can do if there are no more cars.” “BUT…” *glare*
Completely intimidated, I gathered my courage and announced, “If you won’t listen to me, my husband will come in, and he’s not as nice as I am.” (Which is the adult version of “I’m telling my mom on you!”)
Finally I told my tale, and lo and behold, she magically had another car.
At last we loaded all of our belongings into the largest van in all of Italy, and proceeded to
try to leave the parking structure. The moment we started to drive, the racks on the roof hit the fire sprinklers on the ceiling. Each and every sprinkler on the ceiling. From the fifth level all the way to the ground. We would have stopped, but we figured they had to hit them all bringing the car in. They must know it happens. Riiiiight?
Strangely, we had no trouble finding our way out of Rome and to Tuscany.
We finally got to our town and decided to get groceries before we went to our villa. We stopped at an open pizza shop (might as well fuel up, right?). The owners were extremely nice and tried their best to give us directions to the grocery, or “supermercado”. Unfortunately they only spoke Italian(shocker). Fast Italian. And kept repeating something about the number 500. Their hand gestures threw us for a loop. They both made the same gesture, waving their hand as though we had to drive on a roller coaster, uuuuup and dooowwwnnnn.
Easier said than done.
We followed what we thought was the route they they had described. We ended up at the top of a tall hill (which we thought was the “up” portion of the rollercoaster) at a very old church surrounded by several tiny one-way streets.
Eeny meeny miney moe…
We followed one of the streets that looked like it was headed back to where we came from.
It went down the back of the hill, faaaaaaar from where we had started.
We finally came upon a man standing in front of his house, and stopped to ask for directions once again. He was very happy to help. Quickly. And in Italian (duh). With mention of “500” again, and the same wavy hand gesture, with the added use of a very fat thumb he used as a unit of measure. Or a directional signal. Or maybe he was showing me his hangnail, looking for sympathy.
In the back seat my daughter had buried her head in her scarf, laughing.
I heard one of the boys snort.
We thanked him profusely and set off again, no clue where we were going. Suddenly, we came to a part of the road where we went over a small hill and then under a set of train tracks. They were RIGHT! Everything looked just they way they had acted it out! Except, maybe, the thumb.
We knew where we were! It was an Easter miracle!
Soon we were pulling into the grocery store. I went to get a cart and saw that they were chained together individually. I tried to yank one out, to no avail. A man in a turban handing out coupons to the circus explained to me that I needed to insert a 1 euro coin.
I didn’t have a 1 euro coin.
Just then a boy walked up to return a cart. I got excited and asked him if I could have his cart, putting my hands on the side. He looked frightened, like he might cry. His father rushed over and yanked the cart from me, and started to put it back. Right then I figured out that when they put the cart back, they got their euro back. I jumped in front of the cart to block him, fished a 2 euro coin from my pocket, and waved it at him. “I’ll give you TWO euros for the cart!”
He pulled his son behind him, shielding him with his body.
“You’ll make a PROFIT!” I enthused, a little too loudly.
He shoved the cart at me, grabbed his son and ran, without taking my coin.
I went into the grocery store, feeling quite proud. It wasn’t a grocery store.
Defeated, we continued down the street. Around the next curve we saw the actual "supermercado". Angels sang. Or wept. Or both.
This is going to be a long trip.