International Education

Struggling in Italy (The Floating Piers, Part 2)

So I hinted at a bit of a struggle when it came to visiting The Floating Piers in my last post. Well, I can say without exaggeration that despite getting to be a part of that really cool installation, that day was my worst so far in Italy.



Apparently, it is quite common in Italy for there to be transportation strikes. This essentially means that a lot of major transportation lines are closed, typically for anywhere from a few hours to a full day. They are usually scheduled in advance, but unless you know to expect them from time to time (which I'm sure many Americans wouldn't) it can catch you really off-guard. And although there are a few guaranteed trains, those can get delayed pretty badly as well. 

I'm also beginning to learn that fine print is everywhere. For example, The Floating Piers are advertised as free, 24/7, and open to the public. However, due to the large influx of people, things have been changed since the initial opening. And one of the ways they've limited the patronage is by decreasing the number of trains that go to Monte Isola, which is where the piers are located. 

Which equated to a 2-hour long wait in line for the next available train to Monte Isola.


So after experiencing the piers, we waited our youth away at the train station again to get to Milan, and then to Genoa. The train that was supposed to get us to Milan was over 2 hours later it was supposed to be, so we ended up arriving in Milan around midnight. So naturally...there were no more trains to Genoa.

Ok, no problem. Time to take the metro. So we buy tickets (after struggling with some inconsistent card-readers), and as we're about to get in line, people begin evacuating the building. Initially, we were concerned that there might be some sort of emergency because a couple of people were running out. Turns out the station was just closing. 

So as our options continue to dwindle, and we find out that a taxi from Milan to Genoa would be exorbitant, we start to look for accommodations. At this point we're thinking, "We've got a long weekend. What's one night in Milan?" And a night in Milan is nothing...if you have somewhere to sleep. Turns out , in Italy (and most places in Europe) in order to stay at a hotel you must have your passport. Being Americans who were traveling for the first time (and also had no original intention to stay in a hotel) we didn't have them on us. Not even copies of our passports would suffice.

So the end result is that we stayed up all night waiting for a 6AM train back home, where we arrived exhausted and annoyed. 


Lessons to be Learned:

Check the official websites for train, metro and bus lines the day before and the day of your travel so you're aware of certain issues in advance.

Take your passport with you whenever you leave the city you're staying in, and keep at least a copy of it on you at all times no matter where you go. 

Accept that things will go wrong sometimes.


Here's to hoping for no more days like this.