But that's how it is in Italy. While it may be the home of Ferrari, it's also the home of Fiat, which as everyone knows means "Fix it again, Tony." They say that because it doesn't work. Much like the train ticket machines here. Or the bus ticket machines. Or the ticket validators. So you take your sweet time. Which is fine, because so far it means we've skipped waiting in line, ridden transit for free, and despite being way behind schedule, I'm feeling like I'm on vacation. Because I am.
We've been on the ground for less than two hours now but I'm already immersed in stereotypical Italy. Old men of few words. Public employees who don't give a damn. And getting hook-ups for speaking Italian. Never mind that I don't, really. I just know enough words to come across like those old men of few words. My little bit of Italian is delivered in a curt manner but properly accented, with a goofy American smile. I probably look psychotic. Which in local terms probably translates to "cut me a deal or I'll cut you." Or perhaps I've watched too many spaghetti westerns.
At any rate, I'm proud of my ability to communicate. Which will really be put to the test tonight. Before the train reaches Genoa, we'll get off at Rapallo on the Ligurian coast, spitting distance from the ritzy Portofino. He're we'll meet up with Makoto – my cousin who's appeared several times in this (suddenly realizing it's very old) blog now – which makes him a bit of a recurring character. We're about the same age, sharing the same love of food, drink, and travel, and some crazy people say we even look related (no small feat for mutts). The one thing we don't have in common, though, is language. His English and French are about on par with my Japanese and Italian. Which is to say we're going to sound like old men of few words. Luckily, I imagine there will be a lot of food or drink between us.
Our wives, who probably don't share any common languages with one another, will fortunately have a baby between them. (Theirs, not ours.)
All in all, it's the start of a week with family from afar, all converging on one magical, boot-shaped wang dangling into the Mediterranean. Of course, I may not get to actually post this until the end of the week. Because like change machines, ice cold drinks, and classy sunglasses, internet is hard to come by in Italy. Which only means you have more time to actually enjoy it. And I'm going to start doing that by closing the laptop cover, and staring out the window... NOW.
P.S. - Wow, I'm able to post this mere minutes after arriving in Rapallo. There's DSL at this house! Only I'm tethered to a little stool in the corner using a CAT5 cable, as fully functional wireless is a distant dream. :-/