The most popular metro bus service in Rome is the number 64 that runs from Termini railway station past many of the sights to the Vatican. Millions of tourists who stay in the two and three star hotels which litter the streets around the Termini take it each day both to and from the Vatican and stops in between. I have been on it myself if that is a claim to fame.
A huge number of these self same tourists arrive at their destination a little bit lighter than when they got on and at some stage a little later discover they have had their pocket picked.
So many Brit tourists have suffered this fate that a few weeks ago the British Consul in Rome took the unusual step of issuing a warning to tourists arriving in Rome that petty crime was reaching endemic proportions and that they should be extra careful on public transport especially the dear old number 64 bus.
Well you can imagine the newly elected mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino was apoplectic when he read this in his local paper while still savoring his election to a nice little earner as we say about jobs in politics here in Italy. Rubbish, lies damn lies etc said he to all who would listen. However it appears secretly he asked the undercover police to get on board and sort this problem out whilst still publicly denying there was a problem. So readers politicians the world over are all the same really but you didn’t need me to tell you that I’m sure.
The boys in blue have had success and have arrested a 57 year old man who it seems is the ace pickpocket causing the problem. He has been charged with endless counts of being light fingered. Ignazio is ecstatic. Gone are the claims that there was no problem . Now we have a mayor in Rome who is ‘tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime’ and will also soon be found on the mega yachts of the rich and famous like Britain’s very own little Tony Blair or was it the dancer who was small ?
Anyway you will by now have guessed from the headline today that 57 year old came from Puglia. So Italy’s most wanted is home grown and crafted his trade on the streets here.
House guests to Ceglie Messapica today as they continue their grand tour. There is no rest for the wicked when you stay chez Jones. We rented in Ceglie when house hunting in Puglia and got to know it quite well. The place we rented for the month of December was one of those very old star ceiling jobs with an almost vertical staircase from street level up to the first floor where all the accommodation was. The ceilings were high and any warm air generated went straight up there while the resulting vacuum was filled with cold air sucked in from outside via the front door. I don’t think I have been so cold since boarding school but it did help us decide the type of property we ourselves wanted to buy. Our house guests like many before them loved Ceglie and it’s attractive historic area. We remain ambivalent to it’s charms. That December we were charged for accepting the peanuts placed in a bowl near our beers, charged extra for the barman turning the TV to BBC world news during our stay and experienced galloping inflation in a third bar when the guy clearly forgot he had charged us €1,20 the night before for a beer and asked an eye watering €2.80 that time. When shown the receipt he said the price had risen.
However we did eat very well at several good restaurants in town and continued to return to them until we discovered as good nearer to home. Since then apart from forays with guests Ceglie has just been a place we have driven around to go somewhere else.
Talking of school and combining it as regulars who know me come to expect, with the fact that Rowan Atkinson stared in Oliver in 1998 as Fagin reminded me of this sketch
I even get a mention Jones M. see me after.