Prepare for Departure

The day before my return home was spent in Falconara Marittima, the town on the beach just north of Ancona, where the airport is.

Poster advertising chestnut sagraI’d planned to go to a sagra and to visit some furniture and home goods stores, but the big earthquake that morning changed my plans. I didn’t do much besides watch earthquake news on TV and have lunch and dinner.

I ended up having both at the same restaurant, Il Paradiso, about a half-mile walk from the hotel. You go down a steep hill to the beach, across, and then back up the hill. Good place. Lunch was a great spaghetti with clams and mussels, followed by a great lemon chicken scallopini. I was then treated to both a local amaro and a local coffee liqueur by my waiter.

The most fun time to go to a restaurant in Italy is Sunday lunch. Whole families go out together and eat and drink and laugh. It really makes you feel good.

Despite the quality and the hospitality, I didn’t intend to return for dinner, but I had a change of plans. I decided to go out and fill the car with gas, so I wouldn’t have to do it the next morning. Italian gas stations these days seem to be just gas pumps. No people there, no convenience store. :-). First station I stopped at had a sign that the card reader wasn’t working. At the next one, it wouldn’t take my credit card, since while we’ve started using chips in the cards in the US, I didn’t have the PIN number I needed.

pompa di benzinaWhat you do is insert euro notes to a machine, which then sets the pump to deliver the gas. That’s fine in general, but it makes it hard to use when you need to fill up a rental car before returning it. So I try a 20 euro bill. I return to the pump — and it won’t work. I ask a local who happens to be there, but he can’t figure it out either. Finally I try putting the nozzle back and removing it again. Bravo!

But 20 doesn’t fill it up. So I try 5 euro more. Close, but still not full. All I’ve got left is a 20 and I figure the penalty from Hertz will be less than that. So back to the hotel. But by now it’s dark. And even with Google maps, I can’t seem to get back to the hotel. Up the hill. Around. Down. Up.

At one point, I make an almost critical error. I pull over on a downhill to look at the map. Now I see what to do But I got too close to the next car downhill when I stopped. As soon as I put the clutch in to reverse, I go down the hill toward the car. After a couple of attempts and stalls, I figure I’m in a bad way. I’m a foot from the car and can’t back up.

Two choices I see: roll (gently) into the car, probably setting off an alarm, and then try to reverse, or put on the parking brake, rev in reverse, release the brake and hope to go uphill. I don’t like number one, so I try two.

Luckily, it worked, but the smell, from either the clutch or brake burning was really strong.

I was so glad to get to the hotel and out of the car that I decided to return to the restaurant I knew I could walk to. Pizza this time. And a half liter of wine to calm the nerves. Very good.

First image: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure
Second image Copyright: morenosoppelsa / 123RF Stock Photo

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