I have often said, the Italy of my dreams is the Centro Storico. Not necessarily the real Italy. Here I am smack dab in the middle of the train station in Milan. Just one of the Great Unwashed. Oh yeah: fair Italy — where is the goddam romance now.
The plan seemed pretty solid. To fly into Milan at a significantly lower price. Grab the rapid train at the station. And get to Rome. The plan worked but with some miscalculations. My plane arrived early. I got to Milano Centrale at 11am. My ticket — purchased weeks before the vacay — was for a 3pm train.
What would you do? Try to swap the ticket for an earlier train to Rome? Think again. I went to the Ticket Office. Hundreds of people were milling about. I did some investigatin’ and some translatin’ and figured I needed to get a number.
There were no numbers — just an information booth next to the empty number machine. I waited in line several minutes, asked the woman if she could exchange my ticket. She said yes, punched a machine and number B-573 popped out.
The counter was at B-460. I calculated about a minute per customer. Two hours!
I grabbed lunch, had a coffee, tried to find free wi-fi, hunted down a restroom and returned — by then – an hour later – we were about 8 numbers away. Tic 565. Tic 566. 572. Finally: B-573.
The trip to the ticket desk was a bust! In the 30 seconds the clerk deigned to spare, I was told it was impossible. Every train from Milano to Roma was sold out.
It wasn’t a total wash. The entire Lazio JV Soccer team was in my car. They were frisky. And, adorable.