A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Thursday, March 09, 2006 :::
Italy, Part One.

Some things are eternal.

Take Rome for instance. Ignore the piles of broken columns and entablatures scattered around. Ignore the magnificent churches and palazzi.

Consider the taxi drivers.

But let’s first consider the expense involved.

A Mind That Suits had been far too long away from his favorite major city, but had proudly saved 90 Euros, bought on the very first day that Italians used the Euro, in anticipation if his return.

Rather than taking the train and the bus to his hotel, which would have been wiser, he thought to take a cab. It had cost something like $30 the last time he went to his preferred resting spot, an incredibly cheap religious house on the Gianicolo, otherwise the most expensive district in Rome. Ah, but said resting spot is now closed, the religious sisters whose order owned it having, perhaps, gone on to their final reward, so that there was no one else to run the place.

And so a certain pudgy, balding English teacher had a friend find him a place, which turned out to be in the most desirable section of the “Centro Storico,” the “historic center” of the most historic city in the West.

Which posed certain problems.

First of all, the euro has pushed beyond the dollar by about 25%. Economically illiterate people think that this means something bad about the dollar, but the dollar goes up and down all the time. Indeed, Larry Summers, the legendary Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, when asked about a weak dollar under his watch, would comically pull reporters close to him, ask them if they really wanted to know what he felt, and then mutter, “no comment.” There are immense benefits to a “weak currency,” mainly keeping money at home and driving up costs of imports, thus helping local business.

But for the aging tourist, this eats a hole in his pocket the size of the Circus Maximus.

And then there is the matter of getting from the Gianicolo to the Centro Storico.

The taxi driver was not dishonest. He took exactly the same route as the taxi drive who last took A Mind That Suits to the Gianicolo, but he sped right past the turn-off to the old resting spot and went down past the Vatican into the heart of Rome.

Cinicinnatus himself never faced such an ordeal.

The euro’s dominance meant that the first leg of the trip itself went from $30 to almost $40, but that is not all.
Because beyond the Gianicolo there is the Centro Storico.

It is not just traffic, although that is bad enough.

It is that the average street is shorter than two blocks.

A certain pudgy balding English teacher was immediately reminded that Rome is a very physically demanding city. It is not at all uncommon to find a small truck run up on a sidewalk, with restaurant workers hand-carrying supplies across picturesque cobblestones into a small eatery.

It may be picturesque, but it involves a lot of work.

And, if said restaurant workers are blocking the street, crazy taxi drivers cannot get you to your hotel.

You may therefore find yourself dropped, unceremoniously, two blocks from your hotel, with confident assurances that it is “sempre in diritto,” that is, straight ahead (“always in the right way.”)

Thus did a certain pudgy, balding English teacher find himself deposited, with much good will, in front of Michelangelo’s magnificent Pallazzo Farnese, with confident assurances that he needed only go “sempre in diritto.”

Said crazy taxi driver, about which more later, was absolutely right. But that extra little bit from the Gianicolo, which involved not a little zipping in and out of small roads, ran the bill up another $20.

Lesson learned.

Go to Stazione Termini, the main train station, and take the 64 or the 40 to the edge of the Centro Storico, and then walk. That is the way to save cash.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 10:12 PM



Post a Comment


A Related Website on Christian Spirituality
The Fullness of Him
The Easiest Way to Keep Up With the News:
Best of the Web
Links to Web Friends
One Good Turn
A Dog's Life
Power Line
Rambles and By-ways

What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Powered by Blogger