We depart for home tomorrow morning, and today was mostly a travel day itself, as we drove straight from La Spezia back to Venice for an overnight stay in an unremarkable airport hotel. Our only excitement was a traffic jam on the way out of La Spezia, occasioned by a cement truck that crunched a passenger car. There were assorted witnesses, cops, and drivers milling around, calmly discussing the situation in Italian.
Ha! Didn’t fool you for a moment, did I? This is Italy! Everyone, including completely uninvolved passers-by, was of course shouting and wildly gesticulating at once, and the wind power from the hand gestures alone could easily have powered a small house. Of course the intersection where this happened was completely gridlocked, requiring me to unlock my Inner Italian Driver and bull my way across, successfully bluffing a puny Fiat who was threatening to collide with me, and giving no quarter to a pregnant woman trying to cross the street.
One of those Italian drivers left me an anonymous present late one night as we were parked on the street, in the form of a small sideswipe on the front left of our Peugeot. This nicely compliments the scrape on the front right that I inflicted myself while parking on a street that was about two feet wider than our car, misjudging the distance to the right wall. It is not for nothing that I bought the full collision damage insurance from Avis for this trip, having been to Italy before; the Avis return agent earlier this afternoon looked at the damage, looked at the rental contract, shrugged amiably, and said, “Full insurance. No problem.” And that was that. He probably sees exactly such sideswipes about eight times a day and was not even microscopically perturbed.
The drive from La Spezia back to Venice was about 220 miles, all of it at high speed on the Autostrade. We broke for lunch near the city of Bologna, stopping at what was without question the classiest, cleanest, and most welcoming highway service area I have ever seen. It included an extensive market and gift shop, a couple of decent restaurants, and the cleanest and most congenially-furnished restrooms in the history of automobile travel. Pretty impressive.
And that has been our trip, and a fine one indeed. As usual I will put up a webpage with a more extensive collection of trip photos and videos as I get them all organized over the next several weeks.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, our next big journey will be three weeks in Morocco, leaving in late September of this year. Stay tuned…