Tuscany Stories and Tips

Why You Shouldn't Lose Your Camera Here

Of all the places I could have lost my beloved Pentax camera - why did it have to be small-town Italy, on a Saturday night, before a Sunday that was a major festival? Needless to say, I never did find my camera again.

I was on the bus from Siena to San Gimignano. My camera was in a shopping bag, along with a pair of slacks I bought. I hung it on the bus armrest, and of course, promptly FORGOT about it. After about ten minutes in San Gimigano, I realized my dumb mistake.

If you lose something, the best bet would be to go to the Tourist Office in San Gimignano and have THEM call around for you. Most people in small-town Italy - those who are not associated with the tourist trade - do NOT speak English. I found that out the hard way. I was reduced to standing by a payphone in a tabacci in Poggibonsi (which everyone calls the P-town), desperately calling the bus station, Campo Staggia, and desperately imploring people around me, 'parla inglese? parla inglese? per favore, parla inglese?' If there is one good thing to come out of this - it's the fact that in those desperate five hours, I picked up MORE Italian than I did in five days. Desperation made me shameless - I'd try out any words that I think might do, and if that fails, I'd go play a one-person game of charades.

It was an experience. SURREAL, at that time. Imagine being surrounded by curious locals in a tabacci shop in Poggibonsi during the Saturday night passegiata as the store owner explained my pathetic plight to them. The locals would then nod their heads sadly, commiseratingly, and then shrug and say the Italian version of 'c'est la vie.' That or you get teenage boys trying to pick you up at a time when you are utterly close to tears.

So I lost my camera. Had a good cry that night. And the next. And, a few days later, promptly bought a new one in Rome.

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