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just passing through
no really, we just want change

by Sid Heaton
(return to Friuli-Venezia Giulia)

We were both fired-up to return (to Italy), eager to taste good food, drink good cappuccinos, and drive in really bad traffic. Our first stop, Trieste, did not disappoint. After successfully negotiating the border crossing from Slovenia into Italy, we made our way into the exploding heart of Trieste's rush hour traffic, doing our level best to avoid panicking the aggressive pedestrians, swarming scooters, and flat-out insane drivers that festoon its city streets. Despite having just completed the Pinky Tuscadero School For Driving With Uncontrolled Aggression, we were still not quite prepared for the average urban Italian driving experience.

I'm sure there are laws about driving in Italy, it's just that (a) I don't know them and (b) they appear to be much different than anything written down in the motor vehicle code (I know -- I always read a country's entire motor vehicle code before driving there. And, yes -- I do need to get a life). With Kristanne ably guiding me with a carefully chosen set of shrieks, gasps, and screams ("Honey, is it two 'Aggghs!' for 'turn left,' or only one?"), we eventually made it to a potential hotel while avoiding all major internal injuries and most external ones, save for a minor skin rash where I grabbed Kristanne's forearm in mortal fear of the taxi that squeaked past us on the sidewalk as we drove down a narrow one-lane street. Triple-parking like a good Italian, I left Kristanne to watch the car while I inquired as to the availability of a room.

" Only in Italy does an argument over 25 cents turn into a lifelong friendship"
Fresh from our less than luxurious stay in the Czech Republic, Kristanne and I had decided to treat ourselves to a night in a nice hotel in Trieste. The "Grand Duchy d'Aosta" seemed to fit the bill -- great location (that's the view from our room pictured here) and a ridiculously high price. Great -- we'll take it. Unfortunately, my sense of Italian prices was definitely rusty after a five-month absence. I was making the rookie mistake of assuming that a high price meant that I would be getting a quality experience. Alas, in Italy, the only thing a high price means is that they got you to pay a high price. This particular rule of thumb was driven home nicely when the bellboy showed us to our handsomely appointed broom closet, complete with a sagging bed. Ah, yes -- Italy. Just to make sure we remembered where we were, the bellboy then informed us that this hotel, though expensive, did not offer parking.

Making my way downstairs to park the car somewhere on-street, I figured that I'd better get some change for my large-denomination bills, thereby avoiding the traditional Italian disgust for any bill that's more than two or three lira over the asking price ("What, I look like some kinda bank to you, pal?"). Unfortunately, making change was definitely not in the job description of this particular expensive hotel. After being summarily dismissed by the desk clerk ("We don't do that.") and openly mocked by the bartender ("Get a haircut and maybe I'll think about it, pallie), I decided to take my chances with the parking attendant. After a 45 minute drive through Italian traffic to the parking lot visible some 500 yards from our hotel, the parking lot attendant mercifully agreed to make change. Less mercifully, he also agreed to cheat me out of 500 lira. By this time, however, I was back in full Italian mode and was only too happy to engage in a spirited ten minutes of shouting at one another before he gave me my 500 lira with a big grin, patted me on the back, inquired as to the health of my family, and invited me over to dinner at his place the following Sunday. Only in Italy does an argument over 25 cents turn into a lifelong friendship.

Though difficult, parking in Trieste turned out to be much easier than walking in Trieste. Unbeknownst to us, Trieste is pretty much perpetually assaulted by a fierce, back-breaking wind known alternately as the "Bora" or "that $#@% wind." Looking for a restaurant, our spirits were thoroughly broken after only about ten minutes worth of walking. Chastened but hungry, we settled into the nearest trattoria we could find, eventually tucking into the most delicious meal we'd had in months. After an equally delicious breakfast the next morning (prominently featuring the requisite two cappuccinos and -- wonder of wonders -- fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice!) we were on the road to Venice.

see also...
Just Passing Through
Road Trip!
What do you know about Friuli?
Friulian Meal
Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Visit other Italian regions
The above is an excerpt from the Extreme Telecommuting Web site, where travelogues bear absolutely no resemblance to any you've ever read before. Sid and his wife Kristanne believe that the Digital Age facilitates telecommuting and that if one is going to telecommute, one might as well do it from places one has always wanted to go! They are living this philosophy and have the travel writing to show for it. We at are completely in love with their site, which offers no-holds-barred impressions of Italy and a marvelously refreshing writing style. To read more about Sid and Kristanne's trip to Venice, visit this page.


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