Feeling the need to get out of the smoke and noise filled city, we decided to head to Orte yesterday for a little medieval town exploring. I am not sure why we are constantly running to catch a train (3 year-old) or why we can’t ever stop to ask directions to help us in the ungodly maze of tracks (husband), but after a incredible sprint (and my exercise for the month) we fell into the train car just as the doors were closing. It was a quick ride and soon we were back on a platform looking around. Not able to find much on Orte in the guidebooks (I now know why), we decided we’d just make our way and see what happened. Well, the first thing that did happen was that we were in the wrong town. Not completely in the wrong town (that would come later), but in the part of town you really don’t want to be in. Not wanting to ruin the good spirit of the day, I simply thought, maybe “medieval” means something different in Italy, something more akin to “mid-evil,” or “run away now.” But, onward we soldiered, up and down the streets of cobwebs and tumbleweeds and finally found a restaurant open for our famished bellies. The sign outside was quite enticing, proclaiming health food within! But of course, that simply meant pastapizzabreadwine. The only ones eating, and seemingly within 100 miles, the proprietor appears to have charged us as well for her yearly rent. Luckily, the food was lovely and our hostess explained to us how to get to where we wanted to be, or at least she tried. Told to jump on the blue or orange bus back at the train station, we found ourselves running again as said blue bus was about to pull out. The sign in the window said “Orte,” so we were pretty confident we’d be going to Orte. I even asked the driver if it was the bus to Orte, the historical center, and he smiled that big Italian smile and said “yes.” My first hint that something was wrong was when I saw a tiny medieval town on top of a hill (yes, you got it, Orte!) getting smaller and smaller out our back window. Oh, the countryside is lovely at this time of the year, and we sure saw a lot of it. About 20 minutes in I went to the driver and shared my worry that we were not actually on the right bus.
“Um, I thought this was going to Orte,” I said.
“Oh, Orte!” he replied.
“Yes, Orte,” I confirmed.
“No, this is the bus to Amelia,” he smiled.
“Okay,” I cried.
“Don’t worry. I will think of what to do,” he assured.
A little while later we pulled into Ameila. After explaining that another bus would not be along for 4 hours, Roberto, and I kid you not, told us to stay put as he ran and got his car and insisted on driving us all the way back to Orte. And if it couldn’t get better than that, Roberto is a “student of pop” and serenaded us with Moulin Rouge as we drove back through the flower covered hills and fields.
Here is Roberto, our hero.
Once finally landed in Orte we set off exploring—all 5 blocks of it. And here is what we saw: old men sitting as still as stone around the one open piazza, and I swear not all of them were still breathing. One old woman struggling up the hillside and a pack of wild boys careening through the old cobblestone streets on motorcycles almost knocking the woman, and us, over. Another group of teens hiding in an arched alleyway piercing each other’s body parts, and a group of pre-teens, couldn’t have been more than 11, standing on the side of the road fondling each other.
I am now looking into nunnery schools for our daughter.
With nothing left to do (we circled the 5 blocks twice), we headed back towards the train station. Sadly, the bus that takes you there only runs once an hour and yep, you guessed it, we’d just missed it. So we stood on the side of the road and waited, thinking we really should have gotten Roberto’s number. The bus came finally and the train left on time and we had only one more bus ride to go. With only minutes away now till home, the driver of our last bus slams on the brakes, throwing all of us forward as he almost smashes into a taxi in Piazza Venezia. And, of course, a fight must ensue. The car and bus start a game of chicken and there’s screaming and yelling and we are not moving and I am looking out the window at the palace all lit up in lights and back down at my sleepy girl lying in my lap and back up at my husband who’s given me this crazy life and I’ve never been more content, or grounded.