Did I mention that I’m in Italy?
UPDATE: Since this posting, I have spotted three buses en route between stops and two bus patrons waiting at one of the well-appointed stops. How they came to know the bus route is still unkown. Stay tuned for more updates.
Yep, I’ve been in this beautiful country for two weeks and will be here for about eight more.
I’m doing volunteer work here through a program called WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms). I’m situated in a small town called Breda di Piave in the Veneto region. The nearest good-sized city is Treviso, and the nearest city known to my fellow country-women and -men is Venice.
This is to say that I am a good distance away from the abundant public transportation options we normally associate with Europe. And, to be quite frank, Italy doesn’t seem to measure up to the rest of Europe in the way of alternative transportation. The big cities have lots of buses, there are many regional and interregional trains, and in summer, the country is swarming with cyclists, but I’ve never seen an Italian subway system, and most of those spandex-sporting cyclists are recreating, not commuting.
In the two months I spent in the country last summer and the short time I’ve been here so far, I’ve observed that, like so many areas of the United States, Italy seems to be a car-dependent country. And Italians admit it too.
“I don’t like cars,” one of my Italian friends said, “but in Italy, they’re a necessity.”
This fact about my favorite country brings me much dismay. Why, oh birthplace of Michelangelo and pizza, can you not be a bit further along on the way to car-free friendliness?
In defense of my beloved Italia, I must point out that even here, in this sparsely-populated farming region, there are public buses. The puzzling thing is, though, I’ve never seen them. I’ve seen quite a few bus stops, nicely appointed with benches, trashcans, and awnings erected on the side of the country roads. But I have never, in my daily runs or occasional bicycle outings, seen a bus pull up to one, or even seen one motoring along in between two stops. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen anyone waiting at any of the bus stops either.
A local tried to help me find the bus schedules online, but they seem to not exist. I asked another local why the schedules are not posted at the bus stops and was told that everyone knows the schedule, so there’s no need to post it.
This is the same Italian-style logic that kept me from learning how to prepare authentic risotto, until I learned from an American here. Everyone knows how to do that, so why bother sharing the information?
Oh, dear Italy, I wish you would bother. If you were car-free-friendly, I just might never leave you.