The start of our journey began at 3.30 in the
morning when we set out to Gatwick for a 7.35 departure for Fiumicino Airport on
the outskirts of Rome. The British Airways flight arrived in Italy exactly on
We waited for quite a while for our cases to show on the reclaim conveyor, and
then made our way on the maze of passages and escalators towards the hire car
Fortunately we had researched the airport on the internet prior to leaving, and
the information and pictures on "Slow Travellers" site enabled us to
find our way relatively easily, but they could not have warned us about the queues
that were emerging from the hire car offices, and guess what, ours was the
longest!. So Hertz rent a car must get the majority of bookings, something to
remember if we should come back again.
It was hot waiting in the queue, but very very slowly we entered the office area
where the air conditioning made it a little more bearable. There were about 4 or
5 people behind the desk taking the bookings, but it took an age for each person
to give the information required to finally be given the keys to the cars, I
timed one person who was at the desk for 17 minutes. After about an hour and a
quarter in the queue, it was our turn, and even though we had pre booked the car
it took a similar time before we received the keys.
Back out of the office we went, noting what other car hire firms were at the
airport. We passed the long queue we had been in, people with long faces
like we must have had, but now we were on our way to the cars. The last words we
had been given before we left the office was " check the car for damage
before you leave", something we always do, and guess what, a big graze
along the front wing. So off I went to the top office, where the cars are
garaged, not a long queue here though, but absolutely boiling in there, lord
knows what it must be like in the height of summer, and no sign of any air
Our car is damaged, I reported, and as I did, I could hear Lyn shouting at me
from afar, Malc, Malc. I went back to the car with the lady from the office in
tow, Lyn had found that the plastic cover over the headlight had a hole in it
that you could put your hand through, and there was no bulb in the headlight.
The Hertz lady agreed that it was not driveable, and told us to wait, which we
did for another 10 minutes.
She came back and asked me to come to the office. as she would have to alter the
documents, oh come on we want to get out of here.
We finally did, with a different, undamaged car, and made our way gently down
from the top floor of the covered car park to the exit road below. Lyn was the
navigator!! as we left the airport and headed towards the Rome ring road. I had
heard much about the Italian ways of driving, so was a little apprehensive as we
approached the busy road, made all the worse by miles of road works, but
fortunately no traffic jams.
We reached the exit for the three lane Autostrada, a toll road which runs for
nearly the length of Italy. We were on this road for about 3/4 hour, and
after paying the 3 euro toll we headed towards Terni, and then north towards
Perugia. We would be staying in the small
Medieval hill village of Papiano
south of Perugia. We had telephoned Rob who looks after the house, after we left
the airport, and he had arranged to meet us in one of the two bars in Papiano
We finally arrived at the bar at 4pm local time, exactly eleven and a half hours
after leaving our house in Ferndown. Rob had seen us arrive, and after greeting
us, told us to follow him with the car, up towards the top of the village. Being
a Medievel village the streets are very narrow and steep, so we had to leave our
car short of the house, and carry the cases up through the square and up steep
steps to the little house where we were to spend the next two weeks, we fell
through the door and sat on the sofa, having just about had enough of travelling
for the day.
Streets leading to the house
But we hadn't finished yet. As it was a Saturday the shops would be shut the
next day, and we needed some food/drink to see us through till Monday, so we
didn't sit down long before we were back in the car and on our way to Marsciano,
the nearest small town. We drove through Papiano village square again, passing
the little local Supermarket and Butchers which of course were closed for
We found a couple of shops open in Marsciano, and after some pointing and
gesticulating, and there was much laughter from one of the ladies serving from behind the meat and
cheese counter, as we could hardly speak a word of Italian.
Back in the house which is called Casa Mimosa, we eat a simple meal and unpacked
our cases, it wasn't long before we retired to bed.
next day we woke to the bells from the "Campanile" which was built on top of
the only remaining medievel tower. Time to get up and explore the village. Our
first view was from the bedroom window.
It was a nice warm sunny morning, time to forget the hassle of the previous day,
it was easy to do, walking through the quiet village and into the countryside.
Papiano from across the valley
The people in the village
were very friendly, but we could not hold a conversation with them, we needed a
crash course in Italian.
After lunch we decided to go out in the car to Trevi, a hill town about three
quarters of an hour away.
On the way we passed below another hill town called Gualdo Cattaneo, one of many
we would visit during our holiday.
We didn't have time to stop today, so carried on our journey through the
was no mistaking Trevi, we could see it from miles away.
As we motored slowly up the steep road
towards the town, the road became increasingly narrower. We were looking for
somewhere to park, not wanting to go too much further up in case the road ended
in a small square, where you have difficulty turning round, like we had
encountered in Spain many times. Gives the locals a laugh though.
We did find a parking space, and a new learning curve of Italian parking signs,
not that Italians take any notice of them, but we felt we should, not wishing to
encounter the law, on our first day out in the car.
Italian Parking signs, well there are those that allow you to park for say an
hour, and you have a little cardboard clock face, attached to the windscreen,
which you set to the time of day you parked the car. Then there are the pay at
meter signs, parking bays marked out in blue lines, and believe it or not,
scratch cards, which you purchase in nearby shops, don't ask what you do with
the cards, we never tried that one.
Street views in Trevi
And views from the town walls
returned back to Casa Mimosa, had a rather late dinner, and fell asleep on the
To continue on our
holiday click HERE