I alluded to this last month and for some reason, it’s legit one of my favorite travel stories, so it gets its own post.
So I was coming back from Capri and taking the bus from the ferry landing in Naples to the train station. I never quite figured out the bus situation in Italy, namely, how to buy bus tickets. Pretty much every other country, you either have a pass you flash to the bus driver or you pay the fare as you get on the bus, right? I think in Italy you buy tickets at convenience stores (like 7-11s) in advance. I’m not totally sure though. I’m not sure if I ever actually bought a bus ticket in Italy.
Anyway, I get back from a couple wonderful days on Capri and start limping over to the bus stop. I remember I was on the side of an incredibly busy street, with no intersections or stop lights (do they have stop lights at all in Italy, come to think of it?) within sight. And I still had this stupid screwed-up twist foot, so I was not about to walk any more than I absolutely had to. I looked around for a store that might sell bus tickets and saw one, across both the street and a square/city plaza-type thing. Um, hell no. Well, the ferry landing wasn’t far from the train station, maybe I’d just get on the bus and risk it.
The bus was packed. I was squished in the back, hanging onto a handrail for dear life and apologizing for my massive pack (scuzzi, scuzzi, scuzzi). Then, from over my shoulder…
Preggo meant a lot of things in Italy, depending on where you where. Shopkeepers and servers used it as a greeting when I walked in a store or restaurant, people used it when passing on the street, when they were saying “thank you,” when they were toasting…basically whenever they felt like it.
In this case, it mean “ticket, please.”
I turned and looked at the ticket agent, a blank look on my face. “Preggo,” he repeated, holding out his hand.
“Oh!” I nodded and looked down quickly to hide any sudden flush or look of panic. I dug into my purse, acting like I was looking for my ticket. He waved his hand and moved on to passengers behind me. I breathed a sigh of relief, not sure what the fine was for riding the bus without a ticket and really not wanting to find out.
Luckily, the train station was the next stop and I hopped off. I walked a few steps, and… “Preggo.”
I turned around and saw three ticket agents behind me. One in the middle held his hand out. “Oh! Okay,” I said, nodding and digging through my purse again. I pulled out a stack of tickets — bus and metro passes from London, Paris, Salzburg, Rome, Venice — everywhere I’d already been. Silly me saved all of them for “future scrapbooking.”
Finally I found a ticket from Naples — the bus ticket I’d used to get to the ferry landing two days ago (I guess I did buy at least one bus ticket in that country). I handed it over, praying they’d accept it.
For a second I thought it would work. But then one of them shook his head and handed the ticket back to me, pointing at the date on it.
“Oh…um, hang on.” This time I took my backpack off and knelt in front of it, digging through the various pockets and pouches, pretending I’d just misplaced the ticket.
I was literally about to stand up and say “I’m sorry, I guess I don’t have it” when one of them chuckled and waved his hand at me. “Okay,” he said, shaking his head. “Okay, go.”
I jumped up, wrestling my pack back on my shoulders. “Grazie, grazie,” I said, hobbling off before they could change their minds.
And that, friends, is how I evaded Italian law more or less by being pathetic.