Flight was uneventful and as pleasant as it’s possible to be. Viva la Business class.
Met by the gregarious landlord Franco, who explained, in broken English that was far superior to my broken Italian, the various features of the apartment.
It’s oddly shaped, with sudden steps up and down, dim to the point of gloom, and has a faint smell of mildew, but it’s in a 17th century building on a quiet street in a hopping district, with a comfortable bed, a well-equipped kitchen, ample room for two people, and a charming little balcony, so it’s all good. Bonus: lots of clearly written, large print signs detailing how to wrangle the washing machine, safe, and kitchen appliances. Less appealing: screamingly bright CFL bulbs, no spare throw or blanket. And it’s really cold.
Headed out to accomplish three things, the kind of walkabout that gives me a feel for the neighborhood– buy a SIM card, pick up fruit and milk, and grab cash from an ATM.
Went to a TIM office in a square that was actually a triangle, Piazza di San Cosimato. Two arrogant, aggressive men waited on me while insulting each other like 21st century Romulus and Remus. Google Translate got me the deal I wanted. Picked up apples and bananas from the market in the square, and milk and yogurt from a side street supermarket, housed in a warren of narrow aisles. Tried to get cash using my debit card in an ATM in a bank that partners with BOA. The machine refused my card for three attempts. My Visa card had no problem forking over the cash. Hmm.
Suddenly reeling, with bleary eyes and wits scrambled with weariness, headed back to the apartment to put away the milk, then off to Dar Poeta. Two small rooms, brown paper over red-checked tablecloths. The pizza was a puddle of cheesy porky goodness on a crisp-on-the-outside-soft-and-yeasty-on-the-inside crust. I could feel my will to live returning.
Back at the apartment, I received an alert that the bank had frozen my Debit card, due to suspicious activity. It had two numbers to call, and neither worked. I tried using my phone and using Robert’s phone. I tried with and without country codes. I looked online for an alternate way to contact them – nothing. I did all these more than once. Did I mention my wits were scrambled?
Went into my bank account online, and updated the travel advisory page with my new SIM card number.
The email BOA sent to confirm this had a link for a phone call. Eureka! I finally spoke to a human via a call directly from my computer, who transferred me to another homo sapiens. After proving I was myself with various security questions and strings of identifying numbers, my debit card was unfrozen and added to my travel plan alert. This took the better part of two hours.
Meanwhile, Robert napped and then went out looking for a place around the corner to eat at 6:30. Too early, I warned him. He went anyway. Came back unable to find his way using the Google maps app. Places are empty, he said. Wait until 8pm, I suggested. He went back out at 7:30. Came back, restaurants still not open.Robert went out again. My eyes were raw and I just wanted to soak in a hot tub. Not in this locale. This place has a telephone booth-sized shower (ask your parents, kids). In the end, I fell asleep around 9:30, shortly after I dropped my book/iPod on my face. I slept like the dead and woke up refreshed at 6am. Amazing.
Tomorrow -Vini Vidi Vici