Summer weather in May
I have just had a lovely call from my friend Lib, whose birthday celebration we should have had last Saturday. We exchanged our news - though there's not too much of that these days. During our first year at University we became friends with Giuseppe who was from Pescara, Italy. Guiseppe arranged for us to work in Italy during the summer of 1981. I was to teach English to three children for an hour a day and speak English to them at all times. I found two flights to Rome in the back of the Sunday Times and off we went. On the flight to Rome we sat opposite a Nun and a lovely lady from Rome called Grazia. They asked us where we were going and we proudly said to Pescara. Then they asked how we were getting from the airport to the City Centre. No plan we said. We were arriving at around 10pm and getting the next train to Pescara, which took 6 hours at night as it stops everywhere. They seemed extremely concerned about our travel arrangements and Grazia insisted that she and her husband give us a lift into Rome. They were very kind and drove us all around the city so that we could see the Colisseum etc before dropping us at a Restaurant next to the train Station. Grazia's husband went inside before we did and told them they must look after us and not overcharge us for our meal.
Now I wasn't feeling as confident as I had when I booked the flights from the back of the Times. The train set off at midnight and we thought it was very strange that there were absolutely no other women on the train.The 6 hour journey covering only 100 miles, passed at an excruciatingly slow speed. Not because the train stopped everywhere but literally all night we were propositioned by men. Even when we stopped at station they would shout into the train. I was terrified and advised Lib to look straightforward and not make eye contact with any of them. We had no idea until then about the huge cultural difference between Italy and the UK. Even now I'm amazed that we thought that just booking a flight from the back of a newspaper was enough to get us to Pescara safely.