True Italy Stories – Out of Gas in Puglia (Part 1)


The Blissful Adventurer - True Italy Stories

Baroque Fascists

It was 03:45 am and my wife Juliet and I were pushing a 2005 Audi A4 wagon on the very busy SS16 from Monopoli back to our villa in Capitolo.  Cars filled with mostly drunken disco douche bags were streaming by at 150 kilometers per hour and we were making at best 10kmph into a headwind.

This was clearly a dangerous situation and we were in fact, out of gas and ¼ mile from safety.

The day had been scripted by the gods of decadence as we awoke far too early from our previous night’s excessive consumption, in order to catch a train to Lecce.

Me, my wife, and two American companions embarked on the 20 minute walk to the train station, having only 15 minutes to make the train.  One of my friends was celebrating her birthday and I was feeling the pressure of being the tour guide and responsible for this painful, hung-over half jog as the temperature was already at 90F by 8:45am.  I assured the team that we needed to double time it in order to catch the train, but I could not promise them air conditioning once we got on board.  Much to our happy surprise we made the train and the AC was cranking.  We were, as is often the case in Italia, the main attraction for the locals on their way for another day at the office.  The ladies who were heading down to babysit the bambini were all too amused to sit ears cocked to the sides to hear the not so dulcet tones of our American English.  A nun had taken up residence in the seats behind us and I am certain Rosaries were being said for the protection of the young and the infirmed from the interlopers of Treno 12571.

At the Lecce train station

Hunger was beginning to get the best of the birthday quartet when we landed on the platform in Lecce.  A quick duck into the disgusting filth hole of a restroom revealed some friendly immigrant males making their way into the womens room much to the chagrin of the classy Italian gents in wife beaters and suspenders.  While no fight ensued, we were already dangerously low on hand sanitizer by the time we began to negotiate the sun drenched streets of the Florence of the south.  That term really makes me laugh.  I still even use it sometimes in our marketing materials, but make no mistake, Lecce is not Florence and thank God I say!  Florence is easily my least favorite major city in Europe and I am sure it was 2006 since the last time there has been an Italian sighting there.  I am fond of many things Tuscan, but Firenze is not my bag.  Florence has more pictures of menu items on restaurant walls than the Houston Hong Kong Market.  I come to Italy to meet, work with, argue with, and sometimes even eat with Italians.  In Florence I am rarely given the opportunity to do any of the above and while I am certain I will get a list of GFY and die emails from Florentine acolytes, I simply needed to state my case and now I can move on to really cool towns, like Lecce.

to be continued


  1. sarahsjoys says

    Hate to say it, but I loved Florence! That is mostly due to the fact that I was visiting my best friend who was living there for two years. She took us to hole in the wall places to eat and we strolled the streets late at night when they were empty while she recounted the history and stories behind every part of the city. It was pretty cool. Venice was the city I didn't care for. Loved this post though! Whenever I make it back to Italy my priority will be seeing more out of the way places since I've seen the major stuff now. :)

  2. says

    Thanks for the introduction. Now I want to read more! It is interesting to read of these small details on a life in a country so different to what I am used to.

    • says

      yes of course and my times in Italy have been riddled with things that happened in Florence. It certainly starts a dialog to diss on Florence though :-)
      I promise the story doesnt rip on the Tuscan capital any further

  3. says

    So there aren't many Italians that live in Florence? I am just on my first cup of Joe so I may have missed something. I am very intrigued. You sure can paint a picture with words Michael!

  4. says

    I loved the quote…and you are a lovely story teller Michael.
    its a gift to paint the events so beautifully in words
    Will be waiting for more :)
    Wish you a lovely day Ahead :)

  5. says

    Quite an adventure. Glad you made it safe from death looming 150km/h bypassers :p

    Look forward to hearing/reading about the rest of the episode ^^

  6. says

    I like that line about the beer. Better to have no story than a boring one. I think I would have bought a case :) I also like … "while no fight ensued, we were already dangerously low on hand sanitizer … ha… good one. Now onto Part II …


  1. […] Disco Birthday Breakdown Series (Parts 1-4) Not only does this piece tell the story of why my wife and I were pushing an Audi A4 wagon along an Italian Highway at 4am, it gives insight into the world of Puglia, Italy where I worked, played, loved, suffered, and grew as a man from 2008-2010. There are so many errors in my copy with this and it is quite long as it is really meant to be a chapter in an upcoming book. (LONG) […]

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