One of the first words you become very acquainted with when studying in Italy is sciopero which means “strike”. While the Italian predilection for communicating their language with their hands is in line with their vibrant and emotive way of life, I found it quite a surprise that not only do strikes often happen (ok, I shouldn’t have been surprised), but they also get in the way of simple plans like visiting Sienna over the weekend, or Florence for camping, or getting to Le Cinque Terre, or getting from Le Cinque Terre, or leaving for Germany, or returning from Greece, or even just getting through the center of Rome to attend class with the Vatican Latinist (Ah, la vita bella!). Even more surprising was when our program director forewarned us that a strike was scheduled, because apparently scheduling strikes is a thing in civilized countries…Cool?
The next word on your list of ruined weekend travel itinerary vocabulary is in ritardo which means that your train is running late and that you will have the pleasure of listening to the announcement: Per favore allontonarse dalla linea gialla. “Please step away from the yellow line.” six or seven hundred times in the next several hours as you picture your train forlornly stopped on a derelict track (actually the tracks are in very good repair, but I’m going for ethos here).
Then comes the announcement Il treno proveniente da Firenze diretto a Roma è in arrivo al binario due. “The train coming from Florence, proceeding to Rome is arriving at platform two.”
YAY! Finally my train has come! You think, and you get up ready to jet off to stalk a monk for an acceptance letter that is more official than the handwritten one you received in multiple-colored, rainbow ink.
…that is until you realize that the train pulling into the station is not the type you have a ticket for (Fun fact: trains look different based on the relative speed).
Then you look up at the signs on the platform, realize that the train number is the train that was scheduled to arrive after your train did.
So where exactly is MY train, and how did this one get past it if mine is broken down on the track in Tuscany somewhere?
At which point you are left with the dubious moral decision of getting on the train going where you want now, or dutifully waiting in the faith that your own will arrive…