We were the only Americans at our hotel in Calabria, which is usually the case wherever we are. But we were also the only ones with three small children. They actually made a sweet effort to accommodate us and our schedule for wee ones, arranging for our dinner at 7:30 pm instead of 8pm like the rest of the guests–since our kids go to sleep at 7pm most nights. But they also went to great lengths to inquire about whether we wanted to join a group day trip to a hilltop town called Gerace. Of course we couldn’t figure out what they were saying for the first couple of rounds but finally we put together enough of the pieces that when another guest pitched in her broken English, we understood that a tour bus was in our future. And off we went.
First a tour bus picked us up, along with half a dozen other hotel guests. Together we joined an already amassed group, headed for this ancient little walled city. Once we arrived, there was a little tourist train to take us to the top. None of this was clear to us ahead of time. Or really as it was happening…but still turned out to be fun. (Which pretty much sums up our experience in Italy as well.)
Also, the train played really loud Italian folk music, which everyone else immediately recognized and clapped to.
At the top, everyone got off and when we weren’t exactly sure where the tour guide said we’d meet up again, or when, three ladies from our hotel chimed in and confirmed. So, off we went to explore the town. We couldn’t find any Nutella crepes.
At the appointed meeting time (I’d actually set my iPhone alarm 15 minutes ahead of time to be sure) we were there. So was one familiar looking Italian family. But no one else. And no bus. So the girls ran around with a couple of Italian kids and showed us how to really spend 20 minutes.
Finally we slogged back up the hill to find the bus and climbed in. At which point the bus drove down the hill and stopped at the appointed meeting place. To pick up the other Italians–just 35 minutes later. This is called “Italian Time” and I can’t believe we hadn’t accounted for it after all this time. The bus ride home was a little dicey; people were tired but eventually everyone found their happy place.