Dear Diary – Page 71 (Late 1960’s – Italy)

We headed into Rome and had the distinct impression that there were no speed limits there.

A huge proportion of the local traffic appeared to be little Fiat 500s with a piece of wood jammed under the rear vents, presumably to aid with cooling the engine. Driving style was either hard on the accelerator, or hard on the brake, and very little in between!

Pete somehow found the Colosseum and parked the car. From where we were, the only way to reach the Colosseum was by crossing a multi-lane road that appeared to curve around it. There were white panels in the road (much like an English “zebra crossing”), however the thought of crossing the lanes with such fast traffic was quite daunting. We waited for some indications that cars were going to stop for us, and allow us to cross, but no such luck! A gentleman, selling slides of Vatican City, apparently saw our dilemma as he approached us and told us that if we wanted to cross the road, we should just start walking and the cars would go around us. We did and, thankfully, they did!

After exploring the Colosseum (and visualizing the Roman “games”), we went back to the car, and just as we were about to move off, another gentleman tried to sell us slides of Vatican City! He clearly wanted to barter a deal but, as we had no spare money, we kept refusing his offers. Unfortunately, he just thought that we were bartering and the price kept coming down. The more he lowered his price, the more animated he became until, in an apparent display of total frustration, he threw the package of slides into the car and marched away muttering something in Italian and waving his arms around!

Pete drove our car away from the Colosseum area and we found a street on which were a number of eating places that appeared to have reasonably priced menus. Up until this time, we had lived off whatever was available (off trees!) or what was inexpensive. In France we lived on bread and wine. In Northern Italy we passed an apple orchard and so “took” a few. Italy was, as expected, very economical for spaghetti eaters! If I remember correctly, that was the only time that we ate in a cafe/restaurant.

When it came to deciding where to pitch the tent, Pete pulled out a book on camp sites as we all thought that having some traditional “facilities” would , make traveling in a small car more pleasant. As we got closer to where the site was, we noticed a number of rather scantily clad women on the side of the road waving at cars. We then noticed one or two cars pull over; some conversations took place through open windows; there was much arm waving and general gesticulations, and then the women would get into the cars and they would drive off. As naive as we were, we were not stupid and concluded that prostitution must be legal in Italy! What a novelty when seen from an English perspective!

As we drove up the road that led to the camp site entrance, we noticed a flat area off to our left. There were many cars parked there, some of which seemed familiar from a short time earlier, and we could see through some of the car windows that there was much activity going on. It would seem that it was the local place for “consummating” one’s purchase!

Here we are, posing at the only camp site that we graced with our presence!

1967-1_0004bThe following day we decided to go to Pisa to see the leaning tower!

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