Italia, Michael and me.

Choosing a traveling companion is serious stuff.  If married, traveling with your spouse is understood.  You do it because it’s what husbands do.  What to do if you plan a swing through Italy for you and one friend?  I suggest you choose wisely here.

Old time friend, Michael Petrillo said he’s like to take the trip with me in order to get a different traveling experience.   He accepted the restrictions of not making hotel reservations; not following a rigid itinerary and traveling using the cheapest methods.   He seemed to embrace my favorite form of traveling: just bumming around.

I did worry about two opposite personalities clashing.  Two week together with anyone will test friendships and family ties.

Preparations for the trip meant splitting duties.  Michael bought the plane tickets; I made the arrangements to stay in one of the trulli in Alberobello.   Together we made sketchy plans for what would be a fast paced journey for two septuagenarians.


Our first test came at Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino.  After the long flight, we would train to Roma Termini where we would search the area for our first night’s lodgings.  We had it in our heads to stay at a convent or monastery.  We even had an outdated book to help us.  No way this plan would fail.

It was during this trek where I learned how sharp Michael’s sense of direction is.

Poor guy would walk ahead of me.  I do walk slower than he does, but I was also dragging a carry-on over Rome’s cobble stone streets.

Michael visited the first convent where he alone encountered an angry Nun.  No room for us here, but he did get another lead.

Overall we stopped at maybe three mainstream hotels and were rebuffed due to the “holiday”.  Ut oh!   There’s a holiday!  We decided to walk back toward the Termini and to a greater selection.  We found lodgings at the Le Duca d’Alba.  It was fancier than my usual, but it beat pushing on.

After we dropped our bags and showered, we went to the closest restaurant called Antoinella.  We often referred to this meal as the best one we had.

The following morning’s journey had us going to Roma Timburtina to catch the only daily bus to Teramo.   Michael figured out how we could take the subway to Timburtina for 1.5 euro.   I approved of this lower priced form of motion.   The rookie was showing me something.

At the station, we took great pains to make sure we were we needed to be and would catch the right subway.  Thanks to Michael and a friendly native, we were.

With this behind us, we entered into the maze that is the Roma Timburtina’s bus terminal.  We looked at all the signs but caught no mention of our bus or even its company.  Michael asked a series of clueless attendees with only confusion resulting.  There was this one information lady who did actually help us out.  Michael wanted to buy her a gelato.

When we were, at last, near our destination, we needed to get better directions.  Michael took control of the problem and asked bus drivers but to no avail.  I saw a booth with the small letter “i” signaling “information”.  I used my sparse Italian with her, and she used her English cheat sheet.  She gave me the departure time and station: “Stallo 17”.  You’d think this would end the problem.  Nah!  Finding “Stallo 17” would not be so easy.  The ever persistent Michael just kept asking and asking.  Finally we found it.

We were on the bus and on the way to Teramo.  After a two hour ride, we were at Teramo’s bus station.  Now all we needed was a cab to go to Maria Pia’s.  Oops again.  Today is Sunday, and there were no cabs.  The backup plan was to call cousin Vittorio, but I didn’t want to trouble him. One guy at the station said another guy said he’d drive us there for 30 euro.  We jumped at this chance.  The guy did get us to Maria Pia’s home thanks to my flaw-filled directions.

Somewhere through this journey from Roma Termini to Roma Timburtina to Teramo’s bus station to Maria Pia’s, I realized Michael will be a splendid travel companion.

Together we’d combine our individual strengths and make the trip memorable.

Next question: would one of us assault the other?


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