What were we thinking dragging four – count them – four empty suitcases back to the USA? Well not exactly four empty suitcases. Jack has filled one to the brim. I leave clothes on both continents and am happy to schlepp nothing. Why empty suitcases? So that I can fill them with household goods we want to bring to our place in Pontelandolfo.
We have been flying Lufthansa which gets our full “going to Italy” suitcases to Naples where our best bud, Nicola picks us up. No suitcase angst. Jack, my frugal husband, discovered that premium seats on Norwegian Air from Newark, NJ was so much cheaper than Lufthansa. Downside – you land in Rome with four full suitcases. Upside – the seats lie flat and you can sleep. Downside – you pay to stay in a hotel for a night or two. Upside – it is Rome. Downside – you have four freakin’ full suitcases!
When we landed in Rome with our four incredibly full and heavy suitcases – yes, you heard a WHINE – the hotel’s driver picked us up and carried most of the bags. Then we used Mailbox Express to send half the bags to Pontelandolfo. We still had to drag two suitcases and computer bags on the train. Not fun. Oddio! I freakin’ hate it.
It was time to head back to New Jersey for a wedding – via Rome – with the same, albeit empty, four suitcases. I scoured for a car service – even a Bla Bla car – to get us and all our shit to Roma Fiumicino. The ever brilliant, Pasquale and Rossella, provided me with bus information. Flix Bus was cheap but took ten hours and left way too early in the morning. Azienda Trasporti Molisana, ATM, had a bus that left from Boiano and only took the same three hours it would take in a car. Hmm, I decided we would investigate.
I was telling my ex-pat pal in Ecuador, Marie, about my experimenting with bus transportation. She promptly said, “ah, an experiment with four suitcases.” Thanks Marie for the title! Thanks for also reminding me that in Ecuador you have been using the buses forever.
An Experiment with 4 suitcases –
ATM really had a comprehensive schedule. But before I would investigate price, I sent a few e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Dear proficient speakers of Italian – ignore my linguistic flaws. Non- Italian speakers will think I’m brilliant.) Gulp, could I really drag 4 suitcases plus computer bags on the bus. ATM responded immediately. (Damn, that impressed me.)
Me: Quante valigie possono portare ogni passeggero? Grazie.
ATM: Quante ha bisogno di portarne? (I could see ATM rolling his/her eyes. How many do I need to carry – indeed!)
Me: Due (2) per me & due (2) per il mio marito.
ATM: Non c’è problema, buon viaggio. (Now ATM is laughing out loud and can’t wait to see us drag the suitcases down the street to the bus.)
Then I remembered a really important question.
Me: Dov’è ferma il pulmino nel Via Cavadini Boiano? The street is a long one. How would we find the stop?
ATM: Davanti al vivaio La Ginestra, c’è il palo con l’indicazione ATM. Hmm near a nursery and there is a sign – sure there is a sign NOT. This is Italy.
I moved on to the next step in the grand experiment and for €28.35 I booked two seats on the 9:55 AM ATM bus from Via Cavadini in Bojano (Boiano) to Fiumicino. Jack and I often go to Boiano and decided we would do a trial run to find the alleged bus stop. Shazaam – there was a clearly marked ATM sign right where they said it would be. We were psyched. This will be easy-peasy.
Trying to make the trip a wee bit easier I stuffed the duffle bag Jack usually packs into an oversized suitcase. Great! Now we are down to three suitcases, two computer bags and a purse. What? Jack promptly took his favorite blankee, I mean duffle bag out of the larger suitcase. We are back up to four. I whined again. Jack then jammed, kicked and bullied a slightly smaller empty suitcase into the oversized one. Four suitcases – pulling three and pocketing another.
Rossella and Pasquale drove us to Boiano. It had snowed. The mountains looked fabulous. The bus stop – full of snow. How do you drag suitcases in the snow? The bus arrived on time and stopped in the street. Smart move. We pulled the suitcases down the street and tossed them in the under-carriage storage bin. The bus was modern and the seats comfortable. The glass roof and wide windows provided breathtaking mountain views. They also eliminated any large overhead storage. My computer bag nested under my legs.
After about an hour, I noticed the Lavazza Caffè maker ready to serve us and that there wasn’t a bathroom. Suddenly, I had to pee. Snow capped mountains zipped by. I had to pee. I refused to think about peeing. Olive groves, flocks of sheep and goats, plains prepped for spring plantings – those views and those thoughts filled my head. So did the many ways one could ask for a bathroom – C’è un bagno? Dov’è il bagno? La toilette?? We arrived at Roma Stazione Tiburtina. Our bags came out of the bottom of the bus and we were told to wait at the same place for the bus to Fiumicino. I used my now longer list of Italian bathroom phrases and found the bathroom. Paid the 50 cents to enter. Waited for a stall. Opened the door and found a marble hole in the floor with foot pads. NOOOOOO! I had on pantyhose. That means taking off the pantyhose and putting my bare feet – noooooo! I sucked it up and went back to get the bus to Fiumicino. I could hold it another 40 minutes. I am a strong woman.
The bus arrived and they loaded our luggage underneath, checked our tickets and off we went. The wi-fi worked on this bus – it hadn’t on the first one. It was a double decker bus and we chose the easy to get to bottom level. We each took two seats and put our computer bags on one. Most people went upstairs for the better views. Soon we arrived at Fiumicino’s international terminal. They helped us with our bags and off we went to check in. (Yes, I immediately found a bathroom.)
The bus company was easy to work with, ran on time, and was comfortable. We have now discovered yet another way and another reason to get to Pontelandolfo!
It is not too late to sign up for the 2019 Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo. The May culinary adventure awaits you. The September section is almost full.