Bari has been host this week to the party conference of the ruling PD party who head up the coalition under the tutelage of Sr. Letta. Our bejeweled governor along with the Mayor of Bari took the opportunity to present Sr. Letta with petitions asking for rail links to be improved both between the north and south and the east and west. There is a need they said for a much faster rail link to the north from Bari and a real need for a decent rail link to Naples especially for goods which I take to mean tomatoes. Anyone who has driven to Naples during the height of the tomato season will now be cheering them on. The leader was gracious in receiving the petitions and said that he agreed such links should form part of government policy and would aid Italian unity in the long term. That is political speak for that great American expression ” I hear you” meaning I’ve taken no notice of what you have said but thanks for the input. A government that has done nothing since April other than worry about how not to ban Bung Bunga from Parliament but look like they have is hardly likely to put trains to the top of their agenda.
Not so, however, the ladri ( thieves) who have, after ATMs and Self Service petrol station payment machines realized the value of the Pugliese abhorrence with using anything but cash in used notes to pay for purchases and how that might be played to advantage on a train.
Last night on the train from Martina Franca to Bari. The 8 p.m. actually if you are interested. A couple of likely lads jumped on when the train stopped at Triggiano. They then went through the train looking for the ticket collector who was busy intercepting people with no tickets or expired rail passes which seems to make up most of the passenger load on the line in question. As the train started to slow to make it’s next stop at Mungivacca they pounced. Stick ’em up or what ever the Italian equivalent they said to the ticket collector and showed their guns. He handed over his ticket machine and the cash collected. Now in the UK and many other countries the thieves would be lucky to get enough money to pay for the fuel in the getaway car and would then litter the countryside with credit card receipts tossed from the car window.
Here they picked up €20,000 from one ticket collector who okay had done the run from Bari and was now going back but wow that’s quite an haul especially when you think that this is a small regional service. The robbed ticketing guy said he had found an unusually high number of expired rail passes and all had paid in used notes to get new ones.
The two thieves meanwhile alighted the train, sauntered off the platform and disappeared into the night.
This rail service is the one that now links to Bari Airport where the regional tourism guys and Regional Airport Director were gathering to announce the success of the June -September new service from Moscow to Bari. Each speaker praised the service and said how important tourism was from the Russian capital to Puglia to help offset the effects of the crisis on the Pugliese. So successful has it been that the airline and Nicholas Tours (no guesses where they come from ) announced that they would next year start flying from Moscow to Brindisi. Clive James once said that “certain peoples of certain countries needed to get out more and then went on to say Russia is most definitely one of those countries but when the Russians do, you rather wish they hadn’t “. I have seen them at play in Goa and Pattaya as well as in Limassol and I’m not sure I would be as gushing as our tourism guys. Mind you Brindisi might be, certainly for the tarts, pimps and gangster elements of Russian tourism ( which seems in fact to be the main part), their Waterloo. Watch this space I guess for how the mafia handle it.
Brindisi harbour is where the flying boats have been rehearsing for a possible start of services to Corfu next year. Until he resigned this week after enormous criticism about his lack of performance I hadn’t realized the Director of the Harbour was an history academic brought in because of his University qualifications not because he had any knowledge at all of harbors, boats or flying boats indeed he accepted he had none. He had decreed that flying boats would need the harbor closed for an hour either side of their time on the water . He has now gone and we await a person who has seen something more recent than a Roman galley to re-look at the issue.