Italy bitch-slapped me today. I never saw it coming. If you want to skip the rant that follows, skip down to pulled up my socks and walked on.
Now, I was not shocked that Vodaphone was playing with a loaded dice – like, you owe 15 euros but payments can only be made increments of 10 euros and 20euros aaaand down the rabbit hole I went. It was some solace that one of the hotel’s dear obliging desk clerks has also been screwed over by Vodaphone and despises them too. Lost time, lost patience, lost trust. Whatever. You have an internet provider, at some point you get bitten in the ass. I’ve had more expensive lunches. It’s the principle.
Now, the men at the TIM store in Trastevere, who said only one plan was available for 49 euros, gave me a receipt but no contract, and the chip is used up a week later? That was outright thievery. Thus my move to Vodaphone store, flanked by two Italian friends who walked me through the purchase of this chip, which was great and it worked out well, until it didn’t. Sadly, it set me up for this last round bit of chicanery. But I don’t blame Italy for this, this is a pain felt worldwide.
No, what is breaking my heart a little are the two tobacconist stores, your source in Italy for public transportation ticket, stamps, Vodaphone payments (ha), mints and cigarettes. Directed there to purchase stamps, and when asked for postcard stamps, using English, GoogleTranslate and holding up a postcard to illustrate clearly what I required, sold me stamps that turn out to be invalid in the Italian postal system.
They are not only overpriced, not a shocker, they belong to a different, private system.
It would just be money I wish I hadn’t spent if I hadn’t, in good faith, put postcards into three different public post office boxes, the kind on the wall on the street with two slots, one for Italy, one for everywhere else.
I would never have known if I hadn’t spotted an open Post Office door today and gone in to mail a postcard and buy more stamps. The post office clerk tossed my card back to me and said, “no good.” Another customer who spoke excellent English interpreted for me and that’s how I found out I might as well have dumped them in the Tiber. He was as shocked as I was.
I mailed some cards from the Vatican – which has its own postal system – and those have arrived.
I have some of the other ‘stamps’ left and the PO clerk said to go back to the tobacconist and ask where to mail them. Too little, too late. So I bought ten legit stamps, pulled up my socks and walked on.
I bought some shoes. Few purchases are more guaranteed to lift the spirits. I loved these shoes when I first saw them. It was a good sign that four weeks later I still thought they were delectable. Well-made, sturdy and cushioned for walking, supple and a gorgeous color. They were men’s shoes, which like to kill the Italian man who waited on me. He hastened to tell me they were for men. When I said it didn’t matter to me, I could see he was dying to ask if I was aware I was female.
I bought a cheap pink scarf in a street market. Because cheap and pink; win-win! There was a blue scarf with an interesting, subtle geometric pattern I really liked but not for – gasp – 149 euros. It was made by Ferrari. For that kind of dough I want at least a hubcap. Maybe the knob on the top of the shifter.
I went back to the Barberini and loved it. Will probably go a few times more. Drew Judith Slaying Holofernes – just what I was in the mood for after the post office and Vodaphone chip debacles. I drew in my sketchbook, so take that you lying, cheating tobacconists. At one point I was startled by several camera flashes. Turned out an art class on a field trip had been watching me sketch and asked if they could take some more photos of me for ‘homework’. Um, sure. I was finished, but I faked it for them. I moved on to another room with a sleeping cherub. Drawing that peacefully slumbering putto that helped to calm me down.By then it was 2:30 and I walked La Matriciana for a late lunch of scallops, which were the best I’d had in a long time, and an artichoke, roman-style.
Back at the hotel, I read a pleasant obliging email from the Context tour company, asking if they could take photos while I’m on my Tivoli trip and use them on their social media. If so, please sign and return the attached release. I read it, and no. Hell no. Here are the points that really chapped me and that I called out in my reply which follows,
Sorry, but definitely no. Mainly because of the provisions – the irrevocable and unrestricted right – and – and any other purpose – but especially – and to alter and composite the same without restriction and without my inspection or approval.
I might have considered limited use with my approval, but not this. I asked them to just tell me to stay clear of the shots and I will happily comply.
Tomorrow is another day. And hey, if bad things come in threes, I’m done. I have four churches I want to visit that are on the other side of town. My plan is to rise and shine early, spend some time in holy places with heartrendingly glorious art, and then buy some of that wicked good chocolate from Quetzalcoatl.