Sunday, April 10, 2011

Biglietti per le bici? Si signore!

Friday, April 8
It finally happens. We are asked to show tickets for our bikes by the controllare. I had decided two months earlier not to show my bike tickets unless asked, as a test for the system and to satisfy my own curiosity (see Feb. 10 and Feb. 17).  First we show our regular tickets, as usual, but this time he asks for our bike tickets. The controllore seems happy and a bit surprised to find that we are 100 percent law abiding citizens. I think he was ready to give these Americans a lecture on the need to have tickets for our bikes.

Bravi,” he says, “Avete abbonamenti mensili.” We have monthly tickets, so no lecture or fine is needed.

I have read notices posted on the train that the fine for being without a ticket is 40 euros. Add to that the vergogna, shame, one would feel for making a brutta figura, and it is easy to see why we have never seen anyone trying to ride a train without a ticket, even though tickets are rarely requested on the regional trains.

Despite the inconvenience of having to align our lives with the train schedule, we have been very satisfied with our transportation choices. Lucca and all the areas we frequent are flat and easy to maneuver. Inside the walls of Lucca, streets are crowded with pedestrians, and the rare car can’t move much faster than foot traffic. Bikes, however, can weave through the pedestrians quickly and zip from one side of the city to the other. We park right outside shop doors, snap our security chains shut and in seconds we are ordering our gelato, pane or pasta. If only the trains to San Salvatore ran later in the evening, we might be forever content with just our bikes and the train—and a scooter to get up the hill to Montecarlo.

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