Friday, January 16, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Salerno Police

In  this blog, we are going to digress just a little from the main story of our genealogy trip.  We are going to talk about our disastrous visit to the city of Salerno.  

In our book, we have a chapter about this calamity.  It is described there in some detail.  We did not include it in the blog because, I believe, we were trying to wipe the memory from our minds.  It was an extremely trying day.  This is, indeed, one of the failures of our trip (and cause for a return visit to make corrections).

Recent developments, over the Christmas holiday, have caused me to include this incident here and now.   Read on!  

Part of our trip plan was to visit the Archivio di Stato in Salerno. This archive holds notary records, military records and civil records above and beyond the microfilm records that we have already seen.  We wanted to explore some of their resources.  Perhaps more important, we wanted to personally thank Doctor Fernanda Maria Volpe.  This archivist went out of her way to uncover a marriage allegati for us, and the information in this document was priceless.  It put us back another generation.  We were even carrying a gift for her to show our appreciation.  The meeting never occurred. 

In Salerno, we wound up driving our FIAT into a restricted zone .  It was a zone in which automobiles were not allowed.  With great difficulty, we managed to extract ourselves from this zone without being arrested.  When I got out of the "no car" section without sirens blaring behind me, I thought I was home free.


The book describes our failure to locate the Archivio di Stato or even find a place to park the FIAT.  It does not mention the traffic violation that resulted from our transgression into the restricted zone.  It seems that the police have cameras everywhere.

About three months after we returned from Italy, I noticed an unexpected charge on my American Express Bill.  It came from the Hertz rental company and had something to do with a charge in Europe.

I was indignant at the 40 something euro charge.  I had already payed my rental bill, in full.  So I asked Hertz what right they had to tag extra charges on my bill after the fact.  They claimed that the charge was there because the car was caught on camera by the Salerno poliziotto in a restricted zone.  

Well, I thought, 40 euros is about $60.  I know that I was indeed guilty.  I was in a restricted zone, and if I ever want to go back to Italy, I should should accept the charge.  I would just let Hertz pay the fine.  

Wait a minute!  Hertz told me that the 40 euros doesn't cover the fine.  That was simply the administrative charge for them to complete the paperwork with the Salerno Police.  I would receive another notice, at a later date, directly from the Police.

What?  Sixty dollars just to tell the police my name and address?  I didn't like it, but I paid up, and then waited for the other shoe to drop.  I waited and I waited and I waited.  I had visions of the Salerno poliziotto watching me, on camera, trying extricate myself from the alley I got stuck in and laughing uncontrollably at my plight.

Sometime around the beginning of December, I had convinced myself that I would never get a letter from Salerno.  After all, it was 8 months now.  But on December 23 I had a dream that the letter would arrive in the mail the next day with a few Christmas Cards.  You can guess what we received in the Christmas Eve mail.  It didn't even say buon Natale.

Merry Christmas

To their credit, everything was computerized.  I was able to pay the 100 euro fine on the web.  I'm guessing that the police send out a lot of these fines.

What I'm wondering is, "Do they have a sick enough sense of humor to make the fines appear on Christmas Eve?"

Next time, we will find a train station and take a train into Salerno Centro. (Otteniamo troppo presto vecchio, e troppo tardi intelligente.)

Next, and final, post.  A visit with old friends in Sulmona, and a hectic ride to Frascati, for our last B&B (???), Il Paradiso, on the outskirts of Rome.  We reflect on our trip and summarize some of our findings.


  1. A frustrating and expensive trip, but in a few more years it will be a very funny story!!

    1. Well, Celia, it's a pretty funny story now. It was expensive, but we had so much fun on our trip that this fine was like a drop in the ocean.