Travelling in Italy is an interesting experience.
The first time that I needed to go by train, I nearly had to take smelling salts.
I was completely surprised and enraptured by the thrilling realisation that my train was not only punctual, but 15 minutes early.
I’m not used to this in dear old Gran Bretagna, where the trains will tease you a little by being a few minutes late, just to give you a bit of belly jip to go with your journey.
‘La Freccia Bianca’ (or white arrow) is a splendid beast with plush, comfortable seating and dinky little tables and drink holders plus very soothing Italian tones wafting over the intercom that tell you everything you need to know.
This handsome devil will run you to all the best parts of Italy too.
The one I took whizzes you from Lecce to Turin, right up the Adriatic, to infinity and beyond.
My only problem was the thought that I’d quite like to disembark at every station – a day in Rimini here, a mooch round Turin there and, of course, due to the scourge of modern man (no time) this is almost always impossible to achieve. Wigan-Warrington-Crewe just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
However, by far the most interesting journey takes place on the Rome to Brindisi flight. I have never seen such an array of characters in my life.
Catholic priests sit next to coiffeured grannies; ‘The Don’ sits next to perfectly presented and besuited businessmen whilst dodgy looking foreigners, from anywhere, sit shiftily amidst.
Extras from ‘The Godfather’ and screaming bambini complete this fantastic display of humanity.
The plane rattles over the Apennines and gives a little uncomfortable shake here and there, but it soldiers on, then the joy of choosing between a sweet or salty snack. How apt.
Sweet or salty seems to sum up the flight in its entirety.
Once arrived at Brindisi airport you then see whether the police will be there to apprehend the odd dodgy passenger.
Quite quite fascinating.