This article also appears on our Italian Journal page.
After much shopping, eating, drinking and walking, it was well into the night and time to return to Acqua Calde. We got ourselves a cab at the taxi stand and started down the road. The driver spoke only Italian and seemed to be in a really sour mood. We, in all of our excitement of the day, had neglected to get the address of where we were staying or even the name of the establishment (did it have one? We had no idea). But we were confident that we would recognize the side street we needed when we saw it, and tried in vain to convince the driver of this. I say in vain because he became irate, complete with gestures, yelling and red face (as much as we could tell in the dark). We even showed him our money, in case he thought we weren’t going to pay him. We honestly couldn’t understand his anger, but we literally didn’t speak each other’s language. After much fretting and histrionics on all of our parts, he abruptly pulled over and refused to take us further.
To give you the sense of this moment, it was near midnight, pitch dark, a single lane road with tall grass on either side, no street lights, very little traffic, no houses, no businesses, nothing. We paid the driver (we were nothing if not honest) and started to walk the rest of the way to that side street we saw in our heads. All the way there, we tried to make sense of what had just happened.
We walked quite a while, but we finally got there. It was such a relief when we turned that corner and saw the little house. We walked through the front gate and tried to open the door, but it was locked. Oh no; we were never given a key! Just as we were sizing up the garden as a place to crash until morning, the door opened. Suddenly, we were staring at Max’s parents sitting on the couch in their living room, watching TV. Obviously not expecting visitors, Max’s mother had her hair up in curlers. Oh Lord, we used the wrong door! We backed up, apologizing profusely, out into the night.
We then found the correct door, dragged our tired selves up the steep, wide stairs, and went to our room.
I needed a bath. Leaving Lana relaxing on the bed (beside the non-working stereo, there was no other furniture), I took our bathroom key and headed out the door. The bathroom was down the hall, shared by all guests on our floor. Since it was very late at night, all the other guests were asleep, all the doors on either side of the long hallway locked up tight. So the bathroom was mine for the foreseeable future.
It was spacious with a large, sunken bathtub. The floors and walls were done in deep green marble tiles. It looks amazing but in my opinion, water and marble are a very dangerous mix. Instinctively, you try to create traction by putting a towel down on the floor as you stand by the sink or get out of the tub. But one quick move turns the towel into a runaway flying carpet. You grab hold of the nearest stable object to stop your momentum. Maybe it’s the sink. Or the slippery edge of the tub. Or the towel rack. Anything to keep from hurtling into to that luscious Italian marble you were cooing over just moments before. Now you’re wondering what you’ll scream as you skid across the floor. “May Day” perhaps?
Somehow, I made it out of the tub and got dressed without killing myself. I felt relaxed, refreshed and oh so ready for a good night’s sleep. All that stood between me and sleep was the locked bathroom door. So I gathered all my things and slipped my medieval-looking skeleton key into to the lock and turned. The lock made the noise, but nothing else happened. The knob didn’t turn. The door didn’t open. No problem, I’ll try again. So I did. Many, many times. Turn, clank, nothing. This went on and on. I wondered if I’d have to spend the night in the bathroom. My options weren’t pretty. I could try to sleep on the bruise-inducing marble floor or in the bruise-inducing bathtub. Then there’s the humiliation factor when the lucky stranger opens the door in the morning and finds me staring up at them.
At this point you’re probably wondering, what’s Lana doing? Well, keep in mind that the bathroom is all tile and porcelain, and the hallway is all wood, no rug. So the sound of the key incessantly turning in the lock is resounding all the way down the hall to our room. Lana is sitting on the bed, head in hand, crying from laughter. It’s not like she could help me. We had only one bathroom key between us. I was on my own. She was flirting with a hernia.
Eventually, the lock gave in and I won. Turn, clank, open. Remember how relaxed I felt after the bath? Forget it now. I was some combination of overtired, stressed, relieved and dumbfounded. I made it to bed and fell asleep just in time for breakfast.