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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Travel During Strikes


The word was prominently displayed at the autostrada rest stop, striking fear into the hearts of all tired travelers.


Translated into any language, it meant no restrooms and no caffeinated beverages.  Molto strano.  Almost bordering on the uncivilized for Italy.

The workers were restless.  More pay, more vacation time, more pasta or pace, it could be any of the usual demands.  The only leverage they had was to make everyone suffer and head for the bushes to do their roadside business.

We were steaming up the autostrada for the joy of our Venetian gem, traversing hilltop Umbrian and Tuscan towns before heading east at Bologna, and on past Verona’s Romeo and Giulietta walled enclave.

Just barely acclimating ourselves to the mysteries of La Serenissima, I started hearing whispers in the street. This was not the dreaded acqua alta (high water) that spilled over sidewalks and squares, making hip-waders or a highly-situated hotel or home a necessity.  No, for this no alarm sounded throughout the city telling us to head for high ground.  It was the gnawing knowledge, instead, of impending doom:  sciopero.

On this series of islands, apart from boats, there would be no way in, and no way out.  Our intended itinerary included the aeroporto on the morrow.  With the vaporetti (water buses) and water taxis on strike, it would be problematic.

We checked in with the Italian public transportation company, ACTV.  They assured us that, if we would stand at the end of a certain dock the next morning at 4:03 am, a boat would be there.

Making our way through the damp, pre-dawn chill, our heels echoing on the cobbled alleyways, we were cheered when a couple of other well-bundled individuals showed up at the same dock.  Five minutes passed.  Ten minutes.  Fifteen minutes late, a boat appeared out of the heavy fog.

We walked through another boat, already moored to the dock, and stepped from boat to boat.  During a strike, it would be very difficult to manage.  All of the normally-lighted pathways through the lagoons now lay in darkness, necessitating our boat’s navigators to lean over the prow in the freezing cold and attempt to shine enormous spotlights as our headlights of sort.  Several times our ship actually ran into another dock or boat, but we were travelling so slowly that disaster was carefully averted albeit with a stunning, teeth-rattling jar.

At last, the ship dropped everyone at the train station and we took a bus on to the airport.  The waters were deemed too dangerous with the heavy fog conspiring with the striking workers.  No lights, no boats, no visibility.

Somehow, Marco Polo Airport opened, along with their restrooms and cappuccino bars, as the day dawned and the fog lifted.  Just what we needed for the trip ahead.



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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Been in Montreal during police strikes (okay, so I was four years old that time, but my parents have fond memories of driving the Montreal Autobahn during that strike) and hotel workers strikes. I made sure to retrieve my car from the valet parking first thing when I heard about that one!

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