Saturday, September 14, 2013

Don't even think of parking here!

One might think that after several days of warning that half the city would be no parking for the procession of Santa Croce that I (F) might have read the Divieto di Sosta sign in the parking lot outside town a little more closely. I had dutifully moved the car out of the huge swaths of streets where the Parrocchie (parishes) assembled and had even discussed having one's car towed with two of my students yesterday! But this morning when K and I were walking into Borgo Gianotti, we saw a solid mass of people and all the big white vans of an Italian street market--and no little blue Nissan.

K had to get to the gym to take a workshop, so we started to hightail it there on foot while I called my friend Fabio who said we needed to find the Vigili who are a kind of junior police here. (In true Italian style, there are the Caribinieri, Polizia Statale, Polizia Stradale, Polizia Penitenziaria, Polizia Regionale, Polizia Comunale, Vigili Urbani, Guardia di Finanza, and probably several others). The Vigili however, are the ones when you get you car towed.

Crossing the river, we found one of the Vigili acting as a crossing guard and she shouted out a phone number to call. Which of course didn't work. Then after a bit of deduction, we figured that maybe you had to add the local area code. Then the call would go through, but was continually busy for a while and then it wasn't busy, but they hung up on us. Persistance being the key to life here, K finally got through and determined that our car was in Sant Anna, the neighborhood to the west of town on the other side of the river from where we were.

After dropping K at the gym only a few minutes late, I asked at the bar on the corner how to get to the footbridge across the river. The barista and a customer acted out a version of the old "Bert and I" routine:

But in the end, the directions finally agreed on were to walk down the road until you see the brown sign for the "Parco Fluviale" and then turn right. When you get to the river, turn left.
Under the white sign is a brown sign that says "Parco Fluviale"
However about 50 meters further is another sign that says "Parco Fluviale"
Which, if you had to guess, is the correct one to follow? And which, if you had to guess, is the one that I followed? (If you answered the second and the first--you're correct)!

That long long meander to the left was the result. Total distance--almost 10K!
Lots of walking through farms
Finally the footbridge
When, 10K later, I got to the garage where they had dragged the car, there was a cute Irish-Canadian couple in my exact same situation having complete communication breakdown with the woman who ran the garage. They at least had a good excuse in that someone in the tourist information office had told them to park in that parking lot and so they were a bit bent out of shape as well as being flummoxed as to what they had to pay when and to whom. In the end they toodled off to the Cinque Terre for the afternoon. And the nice lady at the garage gave me a small discount for my assistance which somehow made it all seem less of a moumental pain.

So now we have a car to get K to the giant gym cocktail party tonight!

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