My journey to Europe started well with my overnight flight landing early in Rome. Connecting with the group at Roma Termini was a bit of a long shot so I raced through customs, grabbed my suitcase and dodged a salesman pretending the Fiumicino shuttle didn’t exist. At Roma Termini I got my Perugia train ticket and took the security lady’s directions to Platform 5. As the train began to move I looked for the group and reached for my suitcase…and reached again. Shoot. Ticket booth? Security lady? No. No. Fiumicino shuttle? Yes. I had set it on a rack before sitting down and focusing on making the 9:30 train. I made the train, but forgot my suitcase.
Before long my suitcase would be a road side yard sale, so I found a staff member (not my group, they caught a different train) who told me I was on the wrong train and my ticket wasn’t validated, so I needed to switch trains at Foligno. She handed my ticket back satisfied she had helped this poor traveller. I then conveyed the problem I had first tried to communicate– my suitcase was on the Fiumicino shuttle. Her face told me she may not be able to fix that.
A call to Roma Termini told her it wasn’t there so the police checked the Fiumicino shuttle. Using my passport, luggage tag and cell number, the suitcase was located and taken back to Roma Termini. She signed the back of my unvalidated ticket so I could reuse it and directed me to the police station at Platform 1 to get my suitcase. Later she said no, it had to be Platform 24. When I disembarked I asked her name – Nadya. Grazi Nadya.
I caught a nap on the ride back, and awoke in Rome to the train slowing down and many people getting ready to step off, so I joined them. Platform 24 had no police station, because I was at Roma Tribuna, so I took the Metro to Roma Termini. Once there I was directed to Platform 1 – but I had been told to go to Platform 24. Oh, in that case, it’s on the right. On the way I came across security lady, who insisted I go to Platform 1. I’m never asking her anything again.
The police station had twelve buttons to buzz in with, all with abbreviations. ITALPOL looked right. No answer. Another try. Nothing. Another abbreviation. Nothing. Three other buttons I had no confidence in. Nothing. Then a lady who looked like a tourist walked up and let me in. There were no signs inside so I guessed and went up three floors where I found the police office, gave my passport over again, and was rewarded with my suitcase.
Off to Perugia again, but without asking security lady. The Italian countryside stretched past for a couple of hours before I saw a sign for Perugia, got off and looked for my bus stop. But I was at Perugia Ponte San Giovanni, not Perugia. Seriously? One more stop, two buses up the hill to Casa Monteripido, and I joined the group just in time for dinner. Just far enough away from my plethora of mistakes, I accepted their warm welcome.
New friends gained, one not new friend, an extra city visited, and successful entry to a slightly sketchy police station. Lessons learned? Sleep on the plane, especially when going to new places alone. Chain your luggage to yourself. And get off at your actual stop, not one that sounds like it.