The Problem With Automobiles


Our car?  The little grey one in the middle.

It’s been eight days since my last blog post;  we have been in Narni a week and have done wonderful things.  It’s hard to believe that this is the first post I am writing but it is and I am.  More interesting things will follow but I feel the need to vent while the venting is good!

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that our rental car was a tiny bit of a disappointment.  Very little space in the back seat, etc.  Well, we took care of that problem!  Unfortunately, only to create a whole new set of problems.

On Friday, after a lovely day out and about (more about that in a later post), we decided the time was right to put some fuel in our car.  In our enthusiasm to do so, we made one teeny, tiny error:  We put a not insubstantial amount of gasoline (benzina) into our diesel vehicle.  Oh, shit!! We then made what might have been teeny, tiny error number two:  We drove the car the three miles back to the parking lot beneath our apartment.  We experienced no difficulties with this short drive, which we are hoping means that the wrong fuel didn’t actually reach the moving parts of the engine or fuel pump mechanisms.

Then began the ordeal of dealing with this mix up.  We called the U.S. company from whom we had rented the car.  They told us to call the Italian rental company’s roadside assistance number to make arrangements to have the car towed and also told us that they would begin the process of finding a replacement car for us.  Easy peasy!!

Michael called the Italian company and spoke with a person who only spoke Italian (no big surprise there, we are in Italy after all).  It soon became clear to both parties that the conversation was going nowhere and the Italian person made Michael understand that an English speaker would be calling back.  Meanwhile Michael was waiting for a return call from the U.S. folks re. the replacement car.  Two phones, two languages, one frazzled brain.

After several calls, the Italian piece was completed.  A tow truck showed up in the parking lot and we got the jinxed car loaded and hauled away.  Easy peasy #2!!

After several call, the replacement piece was completed.  We were told by “Haley” that a replacement car would be available for us in Perugia on Saturday, Sept. 10, any time after 11:30.  Easy peasy #3, we thought!

Our friends, Cindy and Paul caught the 10:30 a.m. train to Rome on Saturday morning. Michael and I caught the 12:30 train to Perugia that same day.  We arrived in Perugia just over two hours later, hopped into a taxi, and a brief, 30 Euro cab ride later we were deposited at the Perugia airport where the Europcar office is located.  We expectantly and confidently strode into the airport ready to accept whatever automobile Haley had managed to secure for us.  The Europcar office was closed. Hmm.  Hiccup #1!!  But the sign on the shutter indicated that it would reopen at 3 p.m.  Okay, just 15 minutes to wait.  Fifteen minutes turned into thirty, then forty.  Hiccup #2!!

Enough with the hiccups;  Michael called the U.S. company.  Thus began the big run around.  Them (not Haley): “There’s no car in Perugia for you.  You need to go to Siena.”   Michael:  “WTF!?  We were told to go to Perugia.  Do you have any idea where Siena is?”  Them:  “Hmmm.”  Michael:  “Is there really no car in Perugia or is it just that there is no one here to give us the car?”  Them:  “We’ll contact our regional person.”

And on and on and on it went.  Michael pacing up and down in the terminal.  A guy with a gun on his belt looking at us with rising concern.  Michael being put on hold at a dollar a minute.

And on and on and on.  Michael still pacing.  The guy with the gun passing by more often.  Me longing to be back in Narni writing blog entries and eating ice cream bars.

Finally, Michael was told that they could have a car for us in Terni (about 8 kilometers from Narni) on Tuesday.  Michael agreed with that proposition, stopped pacing and put his phone away.   The guy with the gun looked relieved.

Another 30 Euro cab ride back to the central Perugia train station.  No train back to Narni until 6 p.m.  Just enough time to take the minimetro up into the center and have a slice of pizza.  Back in Narni and the apartment by 8:30 p.m.  Nine hours of our lives that we will never have back but a glass of cheap wine never tasted so good.  Easy peasy.

We’ll see what happens on Tuesday.


Bye bye, Renault Clio.


Piazza Garibaldi, Narni:  A more reliable mode of transport?  No mixing up fuel here . . . or emissions

This entry was posted in Frustration, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Problem With Automobiles

  1. Robert Haydon says:

    So, has not your week of “walking Italy” prepared you for this latest challenge? So sorry…..keep us posted. B/C

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Paul Thomas says:

    Virginia all-too-kindly refers to “we” when explaining that gas ended up in a diesel car. For the record, “we” really means “Paul”! I’m the bozo who couldn’t get it through his thick skull that just because diesel fuel nozzles are green in the US, it is just possible that this “standard” doesn’t apply in other countries. As it turns out, a green nozzle in Italy might dispense anything from olive oil to, banish the thought, gasoline! So be warned, gentle reader- the green nozzle standard is just an illusion… and it is a REALLY good idea not to let Paul put anything whatsoever in the tank of your rental car!


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