Today we left Rome. We all had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It had gone by way too fast. We felt a little bit at home, having become accustomed to the subway. We could speak a few more words of Italian, and chose to do so. We had seen most of the major sights. We were due to pick up our car at a Hertz in some train station somewhere in Rome. I had the address. We hadn’t packed the night before because we were too busy chatting and beering. We’d had too few hours sleep, so were a wee bit tired. I was both excited to see the family, and apprehensive. I hadn’t seen many people for a couple of years. We got packed, did a little last minute clean of the apartment, and ordered an Uber. We had a normal, polite driver, with a large van that fit us perfectly. Yay!

We got to the station and found the Hertz desk. It felt like it took forever to get through the queue. Then when we tried to pay, my card was declined, so I had to call my bank. Thankfully it was sorted out, and the funds were released. Double thankfully they didn’t make me go to the back of the queue! We were given our paperwork and given directions where to pick up the corner, ‘down down the road’. Hollow to that. It was a very hot after by this stage, and was not ‘just down the road’. When we got there ‘the man’ seemed mostly competent and polite. Eventually he gave me keys, pointed to a car down a ramp, and off I went and started the engine. I couldn’t seem to get the parking break off, so I called ‘the husband’ down. Turns out it was just a load collision detector. My husband noticed scrapes all along one side of the car. We drove up the ramp, pulled over, and I went into the office. ‘The man’ was speaking on two phones. I put my paperwork on the counter. He took it without looking up. He went out to the car, where my kids were still sitting in the back. I tried to show him the scrapes, which he ignored. He started the car, started writing down, as if I was returning the car. I started repeatedly saying ‘scuzi’ (or however it’s spelled). All this time he was on his phone, and did not make eye contact. He told me to relax at one point. Condescending prick. I was beyond pissed at this point. Then he told me to drive car round the corner and give him the keys. He finally shut the fuck up long enough for us to say we want the car, we just want you to note the damage asshole. He did not apologize, just said oh. Anyway. Enough of dickhead.

I intended to do the first shift to Piza, and my husband the second half. Rome is a fun place to drive, but honestly not that bad. It was fine. I’m a pushy driver in Chicago, and it just took five minutes to get used to how pushy to be. Once we were a little ways outside Rome, we decided to stop. We hadn’t gone far, but with the long wait at the Hertz desk, and the screw up picking up the car, the kids were already restless. We just stopped at a service station for some food. My husband was having a lot of pain with a molar, so he figured the driving would distract him. He drove to Pisa. We stopped in Pisa very briefly. We found a parking spot for €3,50 in a gas station right by The Leaning Tower. We took a few pictures, walked to the other side, and left again. We all agreed it was much smaller, but at a much more severe angle than we thought it would be. There were two other buildings in close proximity which I had not heard of. I still do not know what there are. I intend to look them up when I am home, and somewhat compus mentus. We grabbed gelati and coffee, and hit the road again.

We headed for Salice Terme, about another 300km away. It was our final destination, where my sister’s wedding was to be. We took it in one drive. One thing we were blown away by, was the number of tunnels we went through. We figured in the end it was likely between 20-30. Most of them were about 500m, but the largest we remembered was 1.8km.

I was in touch with my brother during this second leg. He, my mom, my dad, my aunt, and her boyfriend, were already there. They were going out for dinner at 20:00. It looked like we would be about an hour late, but agreed to join them once we got there. The kids were so well behaved the whole way there. It was a pretty long car journey after all.

We arrived at 21:15, checked into the hotel, and met them at the restaurant they were in. I was more comfortable than I tought I would be. I was still a little off, but easier than I had feared. My sister (not the wedding one) was due to fly in that night, but as the evening wore on, her tale of woe got worse. She had been due to land in an airport near Milan. There had been terrible storms, so they circled for an hour waiting to land. Eventually they were diverted to Nice, where they landed. The pilot announced they would try again soon. After an hour they said it was worse, and would not try again. Eventually they were told they would get a bus from Nice to the airport near Milan. They got there at 08:00 Thursday instead of 20:00 (I think) Wednesday. She wasn’t the first delayed flight.

I had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner. I realized later that this really worried my mom. We all went back to our hotel. Our family had two rooms, with a shared bathroom. The boys were in one room, and the girls were in the other. It worked out well, except apparently the girls were driven nuts by my snoring!

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