Today we bid a sad farewell to our newfound home in the Tuscan countryside and began to make the 3 hour journey to our next destination, the seaside town of Pomezia.
Our Airbnb promised a 400m walk to the beach and a 40 minute train journey in to Rome. We imagined that the seaside town of Pomezia would be picturesque, as has been most of what we’ve seen in Italy. Our accomodation is lovely and it is very close to the beach, however, the town lacks the charm of rural Italy and gives off a vibe that it would have been a very trendy and happening place – back in 1980. Unfortunately for the people of Pomezia, basic town maintenance doesn’t seem to have happened for some time. This is important information in the story I am about to tell but I’ve deviated too far and need to digress to the journey to our Airbnb.
Back to the car journey… One of the most frustratingly maddening things about Italy (besides being required to weigh and label your own fruit – don’t get me started on that yet!!) is that petrol stations are void of people, toilets, cold drinks, snacks and all the other typical things you would expect to see in a fuel station. They have pumps that you pre-pay at (which may or may not take your international credit card and may or may not be in service – who knows??) then the pump delivers the pre-paid amount straight into your car. There is no stopping off for a pie, sausage roll, mars bar or cold drink and certainly not a toilet in sight. I know for a fact that there are some larger service centres on the highway routes that do offer toilets and foods (no pies though) but we have not seen a single one since our first stop just off the highway not far from the Swiss border. So when Kylah decided that she was desperate for a loo, we had no idea what to do. We ended up stopping off at a mechanic shop and they graciously allowed us to use their bathroom. But future note for travelling around the back roads of Italy – plan your toilet stops in advance!!
Our apartment in Pomezia is lovely. It is newly renovated and gets a lovely breeze. Ben, Jasmine, Rohan and Isabelle decided very quickly that they wanted to spend the afternoon at the beach. Kylah and I graciously decided to abstain from this activity and instead go for a walk to find some grocery shops.
So off we went. Not far down the road from our apartment I had the most magical encounter – an ITALIAN SECOND HAND STORE!!!!!! Similar to Vinnie’s in Australia but instead of being filled with old junk and overpriced clothes – there were floors and floors of antique furniture so beautiful it made me want to cry, and shelf upon shelf of items I was sure were at least 300 years old. There were pictures there that made me think that perhaps this could be an unknown Monet painting and Egyptian artefacts that I could almost imagine being pilfered straight from the Tombs of Giza way back in the 18th Century.
No one has any idea what or how old this stuff is. You really need your own ‘Antique Roadshow’ expert with you to advise what you should purchase. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. If my bags weren’t already over stuffed I would be bringing home loads of trinkets, paintings and furniture. I just can’t believe no one wants them!! The craftsman ship in these furniture items is second to none. I am a semi-experienced Ikea assembler so I feel like I KNOW how hard it is to make furniture. These items were made in a time before Bunnings sold those nice drill things and screw-drivers with nice soft handles – mind blowing to me. Made with such attention to detail and care and have stood the test of time only to end up in the bottom floor of a junk shop.
I wanted to make one small purchase but I could not decide on what. So Kylah and I decided to continue on with our walk and think about things (very sensible – obviously not my idea).
We were then faced with a decision that no woman should ever have to make. Get some groceries from the Coop (supermarket) 500m from our house? Or walk 4km to a huge shopping Mall? We deliberated for about 30 seconds before we decided on the latter. To make the return journey easier we ducked back in to the second hand store and picked up a 2 Euro “Grandma trolley” to make it easier to lug all our food back on the 4km trip home.
About 1km into the journey it became apparent we had made a grave mistake. Google maps had shown us a suitable route to walk which it calculated should take us about 50 minutes. But no one had told Google maps that the footpaths had not been maintained (actually there were none) and instead were stuck inside 2 metre high weeds and thorny vines that reached right up to the very busy roads’ edge. Poor old Kylah was in a dress and the thorns and grasses were ripping her legs to pieces. I was sensibly wearing pants, but they were my favourite pants – very bohemian looking lightweight pants that sort of look like a skirt and cost me much more than I usually spend on pants. Every two steps I would need to stop so Kylah could delicately undo all the thorns that had latched on to my pants as I was terrified they would tear. Kylah’s skin would heal….. my pants would not.
We walked past about 6 memorial sites along the route and as the cars whizzed past us, hidden in the grass and about 50 cm away from a speeding Italian car I would say to Kylah reassuringly “I’m sure those people were in a car accident and were not killed walking to the Shops”. I don’t think she believed me. By this stage though, we were so invested in our effort to reach a real shopping mall that we couldn’t turn back and kept telling ourselves that it would surely get better just up ahead. It didn’t.
By the time we got to the shops Kylah’s poor sunburned legs were so scratched up and we were both exhausted but excited nonetheless. Our 40 minute walk had taken the best part of 2 hours. We had about 11 minutes of browsing in the shopping centre before our bubble was burst. Ben messaged to say that they kids were over swimming at the beach and needed us back at the apartment ASAP as Isabelle had sand in her ‘you know where’ and was very uncomfortable. I really want to insert a bad word here but I don’t want my blog to appear trashy.
Kylah and I hurriedly got the groceries. As I mentioned before, in Italy you need to weigh all your fruit and veggies yourself and put a sticker on them ready to be scanned. After having been shown this in Paris and twice in Tuscan stores we felt we were experienced with this requirement. Sadly, in this particular store the only weigh/label machine seemed to be out of order (or more accurately – we couldn’t work it) and we couldn’t find anyone around to help. So we just took the stuff anyway and hoped the check out chick would have a backup plan for dumb tourists like us.
I nervously chucked stuff in the trolley, not knowing quite what I was going to make for lunch/dinner but hoping for the best and hurriedly grabbed a few extra things in case my purchases didn’t work out. When we got to the register the exasperated checkout girl was in no mood for silly foreigners who can’t work the “weigh and label it yourself” machines. She didn’t speak English and looked furious that we had presented her with bags of things she could not scan. I immediately told her just to leave those items.
By this stage I was getting SOS messages from Ben who said the kids were DESPERATE to get back in to the apartment and that he couldn’t come to us as the car key’s were in the apartment and I had the apartment keys. Exasperatedly, Kylah and I left the shops and called an Uber, only having purchased half the items we needed and none of the items we REALLY needed.
When we arrived home I immediately demanded to be driven back to the shopping centre. The two things we had not bought – period pain medication and an Italian adaptor for electrical sockets – were the two most essential items. Ben begrudgingly took me back while the kids stayed at home.
It was a mammoth effort to find an adaptor that was suitable. I had pre-bought two adaptors in Australia. One was supposed to be good for Europe and the other good for England. The England one was fine but the European adaptor only worked in France. Switzerland and Italy have a very similar but frustratingly not similar enough power socket. Ben and I had to go to 3 different shops in 3 different shopping centres before we found one.
As for the period pain medication, which two of us needed (but obviously not Ben), that was even harder to get. The first pharmacy we went to in the shopping centre was called Farmafree and despite my deep suspicions that it wasn’t an ‘actual’ pharmacy went in because it was the only one I could find. I did see regular panadol/nurofen items stocked on the shelves so I assumed it was in fact a real chemist. Regrettably, this pharmacy hosted the most rude Italian I have met so far who when told that “I needed medicine for menstrual cramps” in broken Italian yelled at me and said “We are a para-pharmacy – we do not sell to you!! Go to downtown Pomezia!!!” “Not even nurofen?” I enquired. “NO!!”.
I have no fff-ing clue what a parapharmacy is or why it wont sell nurofen to me but I left anyway, upset with myself for not having learned any Italian swear words or witty Italian comebacks.
When I told Ben that we would have to make another stop on our way home so that we could find a pharmacy that wasn’t being attended by an arsehole he said the words that no man ever should ever utter to a menstruating woman – “Women have been putting up with period pain for like 60,000 years – surely the two of you can survive one night without pain medications” he said, with the confidence of a person who is not about to be screamed at. In that moment I really, really wanted to do something to him to demonstrate the agony of period cramps but was unaware of Italian laws regarding public displays of domestic violence. Plus, I’m not regularly a violent person – I just like to think violent things sometimes. I didn’t even scream. I just calmly told him that this was not an option. I think I showed impressive levels of self restraint.
Back at the apartment I hastily cooked dinner, which was so unappetising that no one really wanted to eat it, and began investigating how we would get to Rome tomorrow and what we would do.
This opened up Pandora’s box of who/what/when/where/why/how as there is so much to see and SO many people wanting to see it. Tours are ridiculously expensive for the 6 of us. A skip the line tour of the Colosseum was going to set us back nearly $1000AU. I decided that it might be better to just wander around and take pictures of things from the outside. Ben and I think that we will have to return to Rome at a later date and spend a week doing the museums and tours – minus the kiddies.
Ben has spent the last few hours nutting out a plan of attack for how to get there and what route we will take by foot so that I can force the children to smile nicely in front of famous monuments so I can add them to my blog and Instagram. We will have to see how his well oiled plan turns out. So far my plans (or lack there of) have been either brilliant or disastrous with no in between.
For today’s blog photos I have 3 to upload. 1 is of kids at beach with Ben, 1 is of Kylah’s scratched up leg and 1 is of the sunset from our apartment. Not sure which photo FB will choose to use as a thumbnail. I seem to have no control over how to pick which photo I want to use. I’m guessing it will go with Kylah’s scratched up leg to demonstrate my terrible parenting.
Thanks for reading!!