Going to Frascati - we believe!
The train for Frascati departs on time at 8.35. There are many stops on the way, but few signs with the names of the stations. It is a commuter train and people know where they are going and where to get off.
There is no ticket collector. The scheduled travel time to Frascati is 30-35 minutes, but none of the few signs with city names bears any resemblance to Frascati. After 50 minutes the train comes to a stop and the sign on the station reads "Albano". It is the end of the track.
Is Frascati just the name of the region or what? Should we have chosen the station "Marino-something"? Well, never mind: it looks pretty, and the air is fresh and sweet compared to the smog in Rome. This is what we wanted, so who cares where it is and what it is called?
Click to enlarge
At the station even the toilets are locked - obviously tickets cannot be bought here, so we just make a note of the trains' time of departure and then head for the open. Now, should we go up the stairs to the small park, or should we follow the road down in the direction of the traffic? We choose the last: downwards.
A small shop sells peaches. I point and say: "Due" and the kind lady expertly squeezes several before selecting two.
We continue downwards, but soon realize that this is not the way to the centre. So we return, and ascending the stairs opposite the station we find the town's main road after less than 100 metres.
Traffic is fairly heavy, and we wonder why we couldn't hear it from the station. There are many small shops. I would like to find the lake we glimpsed from the train, but being uncertain of the direction and distance I renounce - it is far too hot for adventurous hikes.
There is a bar by the bus station, and we have espressi and water outside. The air is nice and cool here and there is a marvellous view over the park just below and the lowlands in the horizon.
Buying tickets in Italian
In a tabaccheria I buy tickets for the trip home. I ask the old man if he speaks English. Of course he doesn't, but he certainly speaks excellent Italian: in spite of me begging: "Lentamente, lentamente!" ("Slowly, slowly!") he entertains the other customers in a torrent of Italian, of which I understand very little - something about English being spoken in England. "Due biglietti a Roma", he apes me slowly and smiles tearing off two tickets and putting them on the counter. "Uno e due!"
The park in Albano
By the stairs to the park below is a small fountain, and teenagers flirt under cover of splashing water at each other. We get past without getting wet and share the shade of a large tree with mothers and babies for some time. Some dogs run around behaving almost as foolishly as the teenagers.
We relax with our books until nature calls and then head for the public toilets we spotted on the way. In a gelateria we use sign language and some of the few Italian words we know to buy two of the fantastic Italian ice-creams, which we devour in a race against time and heat. The train to Rome leaves at 1:38, and we kill the remaining time in the small park outside the station.
Back to Rome's melting pot
This time a very energetic ticket collector arrives even before the train takes off. Seeing that I have already stamped the tickets in the automat, he seems almost disappointed, but never the less our tickets get another punch with his tongs, and he salutes happily wishing us a good journey. Nice guy!
The train is like a sauna, but it helps with an open window when we get moving.
L'Italia bolle - Italy boils
says the headline in the free newspaper Leggo. The heat wave is today's top story. The authorities warn: Don't go out between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., drink at least 1½ litres of water, don't wear too many clothes and so on. In Rome and Milan 35° Celsius have been measured, and in the sun the temperature is even higher. Meteorologists describe the weather as "African".
A beggar sits right in the sun on a street corner in front of Termini, Piazza dei Cinquecento. He is either mad or seeks hospital care.
At Vincenzo alla Lungaretta
After the siesta we go to Trastevere, and tonight there are no Danes arguing at restaurant Vincenzo alla Lungaretta. The waitress speaks excellent English.
Helle gets Bucatini all'Amatriciani, thick pasta with tomato, bacon and chilli, and I have ravioli with a tomato sauce. As second course Helle has grilled cheese, Scamorza, and I have a thick and very tender slice of Osso Buco. We share a salad.
The stocky Mamma in black clothes is keeping an eye on things and often chats with local passers-by. Behind us is a merry middle-aged English couple. They eat pizza with their fingers and have French fries as a side dish. When the waitress suggests tiramisu for dessert, the woman almost faints:
"Oh my God, no signora! Oh no, luv' - we'll rrooll home. It's badenuff as it is!"
It comes straight from the heart, and everybody laughs.
A guy in his early twenties sits next to us. He is alone and has ordered pizza and water. He politely refuses all the waitress' seductive suggestions for dessert, coffee or grappa. He is very blond and fair-skinned and his English accent sounds Danish, but he does not make himself known.
It is teeming with street merchants trying to tempt us with watches, fountain pens, jewellery and long stemmed roses. The roses are very beautiful. I wonder what they do to them - use hair-spray?
When we get home the air condition is out of order and working on low power. That is understandable in this heat, but the timing is poor.