Italy’s Inept Officer

After yesterday’s mammoth Italian Easter feast we thought we couldn’t eat another thing for at least 48 hours, but an invite to drop by at friends for lunch had us pootling upwards to the mountain town of Roccascalegna. As we waited for other friends to arrive we sipped glasses of fizz in the sunshine, and I wondered how considering the temperature difference between us valley dwellers and the mountain men the annual flowers seemed to be at least a week or two ahead of ours.

We ate a fabulous traditional roast washed down with some wine, although I was driving so was on the water, until Graham opened an expensive bottle of Grappa that Kate had brought along; it would have been churlish not to sample it.

Post lunch we sauntered into town and perched ourselves on a table beside the castle for a brief glimpse of the birds taking part in the falconry display. We were about to get tickets to enter the castle for the medieval show, but when we saw there was a queue of people waiting for others to leave before they could go in, we assumed the audience was at its maximum.

So we sat at a bar in town and watched as a large coach navigated the narrow streets: It never ceases to amaze me how they get these huge coaches up these snake-like roads and how the drivers are able to turn them around in less space than I need to do a three point turn in a standard car.


Because of the celebrations, the volume of traffic is immense for this little mountain town; people have come from the surrounding villages and the roads up to the town have become a temporary car park, with Fiat’s double parked on hairpin bends and Ape’s abandoned at odd angles.

AS the celebrations are winding down the coach has arrived to drop off revellers and pick up another load to transport down the mountain. Cars full of occupants are heading home, fifty per cent of the visitors are heading out of the town in the direction of Gessopalena with the remaining travelling towards Altino.

To prevent a bottleneck near the coach a policeman decides to direct traffic, he’s stopping the flow one way to allow the cars travelling in the opposite direction to pass through. This seems a simple solution, but no, as he stops one car another sneaks through, then three sidle over and skirt around the policeman. Very soon chaos ensues, horns honk and he’s struggling to bring some order to the gridlocked street; we on the other hand sit sipping our drinks and watch in amusement.


Suddenly there’s a distraction and someone over by the coach falls over: Yes I know you shouldn’t laugh when folks fall in the street, but I can’t help it.

The policeman rushes over and we see that the man who has fallen has nothing damaged but his pride, suddenly with no one to direct them, the drivers sort themselves out and the traffic flows smoothly until there’s only a handful of cars left on the street. The policeman returns from the fallen man and scratches his head, wondering where all the cars have gone. We however laugh loudly at his ineptness and order another drink.


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