It seems that a visit to Italy is incomplete without a train strike.
On the way to our train in Siena, we ran across 3 confused looking American college students who were trying to figure out the train ticket/validation system, which can be confusing. They were very sweet, and grateful, and we felt like we had paid something forward, since folks had earlier helped us. We left Siena, headed for Assisi, changed trains in Chiusi-Chianciano. We were supposed to change trains in Terontola, but......the door wouldn't open, so we had to ride to the next stop and get off there (my sister and I had a similar experience in England 12 years ago----hilarious!). So, there we were at the stop in Camucia-Cortona--where there is .......nothing. Nada. By this, of course, I mean NO BATHROOMS!!!
And we looked up at the video screen and saw the list of trains that were coming our, trying to figure out which one to take.....problem was that they all had "SOP" next to them. Then we found out what SOP means------there was a train strike. And we were stuck at Camucia-Cortona----with no bathrooms. No food, no big deal. No bathrooms.......oh dear. I went into the station to see if we could find out any info, and there was no one in the ticket booth----but there were two confused American college students trying to buy tickets, which were not coming out of the machine. I suggested that perhaps the tickets were not being sold because there was a train strike going on. College student #1 looked at me like I was crazy, and said, in the snottiest of tones ever .."are you SURE?" The tone was something along the lines of "well, you are the most incompetent and stupid adult ever..." I told her that my train had been canceled and hers likely had been as well. She ignored me and kept banging at the machine. Her friend said nothing, and just stared at me like I was crazy. Well, I am, so there. Deal.
We amused ourselves by trying to come up with creative acronyms for SOP that didn't involve profanity. Shut Out of Passage. I have no idea what SOP means in Italian, and I don't think that I want to.....take some guesses in the comment section, and be polite.
At any rate, my new "friends" went to the other platform to wait for their train to Florence, which had no hope of arriving, so that they could catch their 4PM plane (this happened around noon---a little tight, no?). It took two announcements for them to understand that the train really, really, really wasn't coming. They even announce these things in English and Italian! Our young friends soon walked away and we never saw them again.
Meanwhile........we kept watching the monitor and praying for a train that would get us back to Terontola and a BATHROOM, because really, what else matters at that point? And, within an hour, 1 train showed up that did not have SOP next to it on the schedule! So, we went back to Terentola, thanked God for the guardian angel that got us there, found a non-sketchy bathroom, and waited for a train that might take us to Assisi. Long story short----all the trains that went to Florence were canceled, as well as most of the trains to Rome. The only other train that didn't have SOP next to it was the one to Assisi. Saintly intervention? I think so.
So, thanking God again for guardian angels, we jumped on the train to Assisi and arrived with only a 2 hour delay----and a great story to tell.
Platform in Chiusi-Chianciano