Tuscan Telephony

This week I'm in Italy for work. When I travel for work, I typically like to find a Marriott or some other faceless, bland hotel to stay in if at all possible. While I may miss out on some charm of a 'unique' bed & breakfast, all I really want in a hotel on a business trip is a decent bed, an iron, and a connection for my laptop. Broadband is preferable, but at the very least an empty phone jack. And these are things I can (usually) count on from one of the cookie-cutter big chains.

Our main office in Italy is lovely Siena, in the heart of Tuscany. It's a beautiful medieval town, with, it turns out, matching medieval phones. I sort of laughed when I walked into my room in the Villa Patrizia and saw the phone was a leftover from a 1962 estate sale. I used my internationally enabled cell phone to call my bride and share a chuckle. Rotary! Good thing I don't have to use that!

Not so fast, kemosabe. This rotary phone is hardwired into the wall. No convenient jack to hook my laptop into. Oy. And then I experienced the 5 o' clock Italian Mobile Madness - when the cell networks all jam up and it's impossible to keep a connection on your mobile phone. Murphy dictated that this coincided with a teleconference I was to dial into. After more than a half dozen attempts, the folks in the US asked me to quickly dial in via a land-line.

Quickly. With a rotary phone. Let me remind you what it takes to dial from Italy to the US. 0 (to get an external line). (Wait a minute.) (Ah. Ok, done.) 0 (Wait. Wait. Wait.) (Nope. Wait again.) 0 (Wait. Wait. Wait.) (Nope again. Ok, now.) Now proceed to dial the 10 digit number...

Welcome to the middle ages. By the way, the silver buttons on the bedside table were the remote control for the television. Thank God the food here makes up for any electronic inconvenience.

The other two pictures are pictures I took in the countryside on the way out to one of our sites. I was trying to get one of my Italian colleagues to identify this huge castle like building. And I was risking life and limb to do so, as this guy on a tractor was driving in a straight line at me while I was taking pictures.