Strike three — or possibly two, or four, I’ve lost count: No Rome for us, the following day after the last entry. We were all ready to go, and then I couldn’t find Paolo to pay for our stay here! I called them up on the mobile, and over the raucous beeping of car horns, they explained they were in Naples for the day (Ahh, yes. Naples.) and would be back in the early afternoon. We realised that it’d be too late to begin the journey, so we resigned ourselves to another Rome-less day and played Quake 3 together for most of the afternoon.
They returned later in the day, and I saw Paolo waving and went out to greet him and pay for our stay. His theory, by the way, for those explosions we awoke to the other day — and again, this morning — was that it was an old and now fairly rare religious tradition. The number of explosions means something — three to signify the birth of a baby boy. So, I thanked him for having us and he brought us a bottle of wine!
Finally, the next day we were ready to go. I headed down to the local mini-supermarket hoping to stock up on the awesome aged provolone cheese we discovered there. Outside there were lots of people standing and sitting around, cars stopped by traffic police. No one was moving, so I stopped too and watched as a funeral procession came up the road, a hearse festooned with flowers, marchers behind in purple robes, a man leading with a sceptre, chanting, and the bells of the church ringing.
They passed by, and I moved on; Unfortunately, the supermarket was closed, so I settled for the little shop up the road (passing two horse-and-carts plodding down the main street, holding up traffic). I spoke — mostly, hand-gestured — with the friendly woman who ran the shop, who was curious about where we were from and what we were up to. I explained that we were off to Rome, then north-bound, and she said we must visit Perugia on our way. We love recommendations!
So off we went, down the narrow little main street, feeling much more confident after seeing the big coaches speeding down it. Halfway down the main street, we were startled by three young men galloping at full speed around the corner at us, up the little one-way road. We very nearly collided with one, who swerved to the right to avoid us. Oh-kay.
The first part of the drive was particularly pleasant, winding down the mountainside with views up towards the snowy peaks of the Amalfi coast mountains, and down over woods of skeletal trees and the messy urban sprawl of Naples, Vesuvius squatting in the middle.
We hit the motorway, and there’s not much else to tell — a couple of fruitless attempts to stop to top up our LPG tank, followed by a successful one, during which we had a very satisfying lunch of fresh bread, provolone, harissa and olive oil.
When we were close to our destination, just outside of Rome, I took a wrong turn on the freeway (I went left at a fork, which looked like the right move on the map, but I guess I should’ve gone the other way!), which added on about 30 minutes of driving up, across, and down again along the outskirts of the city. Luckily it was Sunday and traffic wasn’t too hectic.
So eventually we made it back onto the road outbound from Rome and made the turn up the steep street into Castel Gandolfo (we prefer “Castle Gandalf”), perched on the side of the pretty Lake Albano. We found our way down to the lakeside where the area attrezzata was, part of the restaurant “Quadri 2000” (what a name!).
I found someone to let us into the place — in the process, pulling out my new-found “Potrei parlo con qualcuno…” line I used time and time again trying unsuccessfully to get a hold of an English-speaking customer service person at Wind, our telco who somehow managed to nick our Internet credit with no explanation — but that’s a whole other story.
The place wasn’t quite what we had in mind — a presumably independent review of the place promised ‘great views’ — but it’s fine, and wonderfully located, within 40 minutes on the train from the centre of Rome, right beside this beautiful lake, and with everything we need to stick around a little while.
And, best of all – full 3G reception! After four months, finally, we have broadband again. It’s a heady experience.
— With one caveat. Earlier in the week, our mobile internet provider, Wind, somehow managed to zero out our entire Internet quota, with no explanation, as well as taking the rest of our credit, coming to about $15 AUD. Bastards! We had to fall back to our other time-based account for a few days until our next batch of quota came through. I’d spent hours trying to contact someone who could help, but the support staff were comprehensibly unhelpful.
When we arrived in Castle Gandalf and hooked up our time-based account to start using the broadband here, it wasn’t working! Some digging revealed they’d done it again: All our quota was gone, as well as the remaining €10 credit. Unfortunately, this meant we couldn’t use the 3G, other than very low-volume stuff like email checking.
Wind: 2. Us: 0.