Out of Touch and Somewhat Immobile
Cotral is a regional bus system servicing this area. The bus travels between Nettuno on this end, through Anzio and our section of town, on up to Roma, and in reverse. The trouble is there seems to be no set schedule. Every time we have gone to the fermata we have had to wait anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes for a bus to come along. Locals waiting with us roll their eyes every five minutes and make hand gestures, indicating their frustration and their nonverbal communication of “where the hell is the stupid bus”.
Fortunately, we can obtain the basic elements of everyday sustenance in our neighborhood. There is a little market just a couple blocks away to buy groceries, though they carry no meats, prosciutto and salami excepted. Another couple blocks takes us to a coffee bar where they also conveniently sell bus tickets and cell phone minutes. It doubles as a gelateria, too. There is a frutta/verdura and a pizza place that offers up excellent, true Neopolitan pizzas (he has the certification to prove its authenticity), all in walking distance. And of course, the beach and its accompanying bars and casual cafes that will open soon.
The season is only beginning and when we walk on the beach we can observe the tell-tale signs: painting and hammering of awnings, the careful placement of rows of little cabanas, the seasonal preparations for the sun-bathing hordes that will begin to arrive in a few weeks. Already, weekends are beginning to pick up. All week we have the streets and beach to ourselves. Today, Saturday, while waiting for the bus, there was a nonstop stream of cars flowing southward into Anzio from Rome, the weekend warriors headed for their summer homes. Our narrow street has more cars parked on it than usual. The sun-worshippers are coming to commence their annual tanning rituals.
We feel incredibly lucky to have access to this house and the beach. Still, we can’t help but be a bit wistful at the lack of reliable transportation, and, more immediately disconcerting to us, the lack of internet connection. We have become completely internet-dependent. Any little bit of information would be sought out online; all communication with friends and family anticipated to be so easily completed by email. This is the major reason we brave the bus system. This hardship is sorely felt. Showering in a little service room I can deal with; and, while attacking mosquitoes are definitely a problem, not being able to connect for email is, to me, akin to not having indoor plumbing. It feels so…primitive. I knew we would adapt and live slow, but in ways I’d not anticipated!
Because we truly need internet (for communication, news and to manage our finances), we have sought out various ways of connecting. The internet point in Anzio told us that they can install a high-speed connection for us in about two weeks’ time. Great, except that they require a year contract and we don’t plan to live in this locale for a year. We found another internet point in the nearer community of Anzio Colonia, though it still requires riding the wretched buses (and yesterday when we arrived after much travail, their internet service was unavailable). We tried to access wi-fi at a nearby hotel. We’d seen an ad that they offer this service and Bryan went to inquire; he was informed that we could use the service for a fee. Today we walked down to try it out. We required a password and login code from the hotel in order to access the pay page. The girl at the desk said she didn’t know about that and shrugged, then resolutely ignored us. Defeated again.
We had inquired at a beach-side bar which, Francesca told us, offered internet last year. They did not receive their approval from Telecom, the phone company, to offer it this year. Drat. I may brave some language trepidation to ask the manager of a nearby hotel if internet could be procured for a price there, but when I went in to ask him about hotel rates for my parents, he spoke so quickly and brusquely that he downright scared me and I fled rather than state my blatant ignorance and repeatedly ask him to “ripete piu piano, per favore”.
We plug along. We hop on buses with undetermined destinations to see where they take us. This results in a lot of time and energy exerted in erroneous thinking. Buses do not complete a circular loop as one might think. We reached the end of the line at a military installation outside Nettuno and the bus driver kicked our confused little butts off the vehicle, saying he was now “fuori servizio”. We watched several buses pass by without stopping. We didn’t know where we were except that it was several kilometers from town. A strange little bag man edged closer to us as we stood under the fermata sign waiting. A bus came along and stopped to let out passengers but didn’t open his doors for people to board. I knocked and he cracked it open ever so slightly, so I quickly asked about getting back to Anzio. Another bus will come soon, he told me; he was now fuori servizio. “When?” I asked. “Soon.”
About fifteen minutes later another bus came along and we boarded, again blind to where it was going but figuring it had to be toward one town or another where we could at least figure out where the heck we were and how to get home. We had a few moments of grave concern as the driver took us down some country roads, further away from town. We had no choice but to wait it out, and eventually we found ourselves back in the center of Anzio. We had to connect to another bus, though, to return home. Later, when we told Giorgio and Francesca of our adventure, they laughed and nodded and “si-si’d” us in awareness that this is normale.
Ogni giorno e un’avventura nuova, I say. Every day is a new adventure. When one uses the regional bus, the adventure may be more than one bargained for, but at least at the end of the day there is the sea. And gelato. And real pizza napoletana.
copyright 2006 Valerie Schneider