21 June 2006

The autobus, a daily adventure

We were familiar with the Italian bus system from our previous trips to Italy, having used the buses in Rome, Florence and Venice (okay boat-buses) and, despite some weary bus trips, found them to be a reliable means of getting around. It appears this is not the case everywhere in Italy.

Because we are living outside of Anzio we must rely on public transportation to get into the town of center or to Roma. Our primary means of transit is via the regional bus service that runs from Roma to Nettuno with stops all along the route. The schedule for this bus is based on when it leaves Roma or Nettuno and all of the stops in between are not fixed but dependant on variables such as traffic and the number of stops it must make along the way.

We have made this trip from Nettuno to Roma and the time seems to be about 1.5 hours one way. The buses are scheduled to run 30 to 60 minutes apart depending on the time of day, more frequently at the beginning and end of the workday and around meal times. Having had cars at our disposal for so many years, it can be a test of patience having to wait for the bus, looking down the street hoping to see that blue and white giant above all the little cars.

At the bus stop, called a “fermata”, if you do not signal your desire to board, the bus will not stop, even if you are obviously standing on the side of the street at the marked fermata. We have learned this the hard way. I have also witnessed people running frantically towards the bus stop with arms flailing and voices raised, obviously trying to catch the bus, as the driver pulls away from the stop without waiting. Sadists.

Once you are on the bus it then becomes a balancing act, as the drivers seem highly skilled in jack rabbit starts and sudden stops. If you don’t have at least one hand free to hold on tightly, you may find yourself bouncing out of the seats as the bus lunges forward and screeches to a halt. It can be amusing to watch people as they balance themselves while walking to a seat as the bus roars away from the stop. We think the drivers do this deliberately to torture people.

There is only one bus that goes past our home, but in the Anzio centro there are several buses at one stop and it is not always clear where each bus in that piazza is going. Many times we have stepped into the bus to ask the driver “va a Villa Claudia?” (Are you going to Villa Claudia?) only to get a brief “No”. No explanation as to which bus we need or when it may be coming by is ever offered.

Needless to say we have started looking into the process of obtaining a car.

No comments: