by Melinda Gallo

A bus ride gone astray

A few friends had told me about their experiences taking the bus that were similar to mine today. I had believed them because I trust my friends, but I always thought it was so unbelievable that it couldn't possibly be true. It wasn't until today did I find out that sometimes the autista dell'autobus (bus driver) strays off course and takes a different route.

Because there is so much work being done in the city between fixing uneven streets and building the tramvia (street car), there is much disruption and chaos all over the city.

I had reassured my friend Sarah that we needed to take the 17 bus to via dei Mille this morning. We walked to the bus stop and waited for the bus to arrive. We got on and I didn't have any doubts until the bus turned left onto viale Matteotti and toward Piazza LibertÓ. Suddenly, I thought that I must have made a mistake. I only take two buses these days because I either walk or take my bike to get around Florence.

Sarah asked the woman sitting across from her if the bus still went to via dei Mille where we were heading and the woman said she wasn't sure because she didn't know where the bus was heading.

We finally realized that the autista dell'autobus had to make this detour because they were working on via Fra' Bartolommeo, The autista turned right onto Via Leonardo da Vinci to go toward Piazza Savonarola. Instead of turning left to reach the normal route, the autista paused at the intersection and deemed it too narrow for him to turn onto.

As soon as the autista began to go straight down the street instead of turning, there was great upheaval on board the bus. "Ma dove va questo? (Where is he going?)," one Italian man yelled toward all of the passengers behind him. "Non sa dove andare. (He doesn't know where to go.)," he continued. People began to talk loudly to anyone who would listen. A few passengers stood up and headed for the middle doors so they could be prepared to jump off at the next stop.

The autista couldn't turn until three blocks farther away. A few of the passengers told him where to go next, "Non girare qui. Devi andare alla prossima strada. (Don't turn here. You have to go to the next street.)"

We finally joined the normal route and everyone seemed to settle down. Whispers went around the bus that maybe the autista really didn't know where he was going because he remained so silent and didn't react to any of the passengers.

One girlfriend of mine told me that she was on a bus once and the autista stopped in the middle of a piazza, turned toward the passengers, and asked where he was supposed to go. After seeing our autista hesitate a few times, I realized that maybe he might have been new to the route and got confused when one of the streets was under construction.

I didn't have any fear that we wouldn't arrive to via dei Mille, but I was relieved to get off the bus because the other passengers all seemed a bit stressed out even though the bus was finally back on track.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!