Thursday, June 24, 2010

Was it the council or the Capulets who kidnapped the car and the vessel with the pestle...?

Lately, I’ve been taking stock of my ongoing transformation from precise Briton to abstract new Roman and asking myself some really harsh questions, such as: Will I ever manage to leave the cheese counter having purchased something I can actually stomach?  Will I ever be able to buy clothes in Rome, given that only extra-small is ever hung on show and my size is generally stored down in the basement to avoid frightening local children? 

A key factor slowing down the progress is my inability to stop assuming every new predicament I find myself in, will pan out the way it does in England. For better or for worse, it just doesn’t.  Take the other morning when Gastro-gnome and I dashed out of my flat, only to find a slightly larger car parked outside Dante Alighieri High School in the exact spot where Little Peugot had once stood.  A quick look around showed up nothing untoward; zebra-crossings loaded with parked cars, paths littered with scooters, pedestrians choosing to dodge flying vehicles in the road, rather than find themselves trapped on paths.  Clearly Little Peugot had been kidnapped and as yet no ransom note had materialised.  We reasoned optimistically, if we had to go down to Naples to find her, at least we could bring back some mozzerella di bufala.  Maybe the modern day Romeo and Juliet who recently proclaimed their love with a red spray can across the front wall of their High School had used Little Peugot to run away together, escaping their feuding families. 

Eventually, it transpired that she had been towed to a pound, picked on for seemingly much less reason than a dozen vehicles parked around her. A bank security guard had watched with bemusement as Little Peugot sat in shock like a baby blackbird on the back of the truck .  He confirmed she was probably being held against her will, 200 metres down the road behind the Olympic stadium I hastily totted up the probable price of her release, based on the last time my car was towed outside Wembley arena in London, 10 years ago.  Back then, I paid a price which could have comfortably included a full service as well.   In the end Little Peugot’s ransom was less than a quarter of my calculations.  It seems the retrieval price is minimal on a small car much as a  young delinquent would receive a reduced sentence for their crimes.  If you choose to collect the car a few days later, each day is charged at considerably less than a normal day’s parking in the same zone.   As a cheerful little Sardinian man seated on a white plastic chair wrote out a receipt for his ill-gotten gains, no explanation for the abduction was offered but recommendations for restaurants and hotels in Sardinia were thankfully forthcoming and gratefully received.  So car and owner where reunited.  Little Peugot’s rap sheet described her as “dirty” which mortified Gastro-gnome, who like all Romans shares a deep love with his mother and his car, or in many cases, her car as that’s what they are driving.  The spray-painted words on the High School wall, named after Italy’s greatest romantic poet Dante Alighieri, could easily have been written by any Roman motorist to his beloved chariot:  “Our love is like music which can never end”.  It's no coincidence that the new Alfa Romeo model is called Giulietta! That's love.

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TO POSTS VIA FEED. Ice cream's on me in Rome!


  1. Yay! You're back! So glad little Peugeot was safely rescued. Sounds a lot cheaper then when I was three minutes late returning to a carpark in Wellington; the car (big ugly Toyota) was already clamped, and it took me 200NZ$ to free it... Arsewipes.

  2. So they didn't tell you why Little Peugeot was towed away? Purely because she was dirty?

  3. No real idea why she was towed. She'd actually just been cleaned as well. It would probably take a year of queuing, photocopying and rubber stamping to ever find out. The hardest thing was tracking her down as nobody ever answers the phone at the pound, so you have to call the council (commune) and they give you a short list of possible destinations. At the pound, an "empress" arrived by taxi, squawked at Gastro because he didn't work there, failed to trace her Porsche Cayenne as she didn't know the numberplate and finally got back in her waiting taxi in a huff, presumably off to buy another one...

  4. You made me laugh out loud! Thanks for sharing this experience with us. I've added you to my Top 10 this week over on

  5. Many thanks Italytutto! I enjoy sharing the madness here.