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Chapter XXIV - Hospital Humor, Milan

The driver asked us where we would stay in Naples. We said we had not made any reservations and asked if he had any suggestions. We left our luggage at the hotel he had taken us to and then asked the driver if he had time to drive us around to see the sights.

A mishap was about to happen. Like any other big city the traffic was dangerous. At the intersection the driver applied his brakes suddenly and my head hit the glass divider that separated the driver from the passengers. Blood began to gush down my face from a superficial cut on my forehead. The driver stopped the car in front of a drug store and asked the druggist to apply a dressing to my small wound. The druggist said he could not do that since it was against the law to give such service. He said I would have to go to the hospital for proper care.

The hospital grounds were fenced in and a gate would be opened by a guard to admit the patients. A group of curiosity seekers were near the gate. Seeing me with blood on my face someone asked what had happened. A woman answered, "Her husband has hit her with a stick." I was amused by the woman's imagination.

I entered the emergency room where a nun took care of my little wound. She wanted to know what had happened. She listened and then said I could not be released because it was an accident. She said I would have to see an officer of the law and she instructed me where to go. I went to a room where a placard indicated there was a representative of the law. The driver did not like this because it would not look good on his record. I was asked where I lived and other information. The driver gave his license number and I was released.

We went back to the hotel and decided to rest for the balance of the afternoon.

The next day we visited the excavation at Pompeii where a guide told us about the various buildings and ruins. I needed to go back to the hotel for a good reason. I had contacted a virus and was in great discomfort, but the guide insisted on showing us the most interesting parts. Then he insisted on taking us to a store where all kinds of souvenirs were being sold.

The next day we visited Sorrento and had dinner at a beautiful restaurant high up on a hill. Tables were set outside overlooking the bay. It was a beautiful sight with the sun filtering through a canopy covering the patio. My husband ordered a sumptuous fish dinner while I had to content myself with boiled rice. I did not dare order rich food since I didn't want to aggravate my condition.

That same day, late in the afternoon, we left for Rome. When we descended from the train it was raining very hard. By the time we were able to hire a taxi, we were all wet. We found a hotel and approached the desk looking like fish pulled out of pond. I could see that the clerk was not willing to have us as guests but he could not deny us lodging without a sound reason. Begrudgingly he assigned a room to us.

The next morning we went on a tour of the city. We had arranged with my husband's brothers to meet us at the railroad station late in the afternoon so they could travel the 900 kilometers with us to Milan. The train was packed and a lot of passengers had to stand up. One of my sisters-in-law sat in the middle of the aisle on her suitcase.

While in Milan we stayed with my husband's brother and his sister's sons showed us around. They owned a car. My sister-in- law's husband accompanied us everywhere. He was a very outgoing, congenial person.

On Sunday we visited my husband's younger brother who lived in a nearby town. Everyone saw to it that we had a good time and we felt very welcome.

The Duomo, the famous Milan Cathedral, left a lasting impression with its famous artwork. Every carved stone, every column is unique. I asked when that beautiful majestic piece of work had been produced and no one seemed to know.

In Milan we saw many interesting things. LaScala, the famous opera house, was one of our stops.

I was impressed by the cemetery of the rich with marble and bronze statues, the Tomb of Toscannini and other famous people.

I had noticed, in the home of my sister-in-law, that their windows were without screens and yet there were no flies. It was late summer so the windows were open. I asked my sister-in-law if they sprayed in the city, but she said that while people slept at night the city was washed down by pumps. My brother-in-law lived in a very comfortable apartment with all improvements. I took a bath and washed my hair for the first time after my ill-fated permanent. After my hair was washed I had the most beautiful head of hair, wavy and shining.

Finally came the time to leave. Again we had to say good-by and everyone made us promise to write.

On the train, as we headed toward France, we were tired but very happy. Our visit had been very successful. Seated for another long train ride I was very much absorbed in my thoughts. I was sad because I had left so many loveable people behind. The old country with the magic charm of old memory, the deep roots of my ancestry, the beauty of the mountains and valleys, the blue sky, brooks, lakes, trees and grass - all this kept churning in my mind.

We had promised to come again when my husband retired. We wanted to go back for a whole year, to really relive our early years. But all this beautiful dream - would it ever come to pass? The future was not up to us to decide. We could only dream and hope. Two or three days with each family were not sufficient time to fill in all of the past years.

All these and other thoughts seemed to make the ride back shorter.

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