Today there was another strike affecting public transportation in Italy. This was in protest of the Italian government’s position on a $63 billion austerity program, which has been met with much controversy. Organized by the labor unions, strikes or scioperi are common in Italy, and usually affect the transportation system for a limited time period.
This 8 hour strike closed down the majority of the buses and the entire metro system in Rome, Naples and Torino. Two hundred airline flights had to be cancelled, as well as half of the country’s train connections. The Colosseum and Roman Forum were closed to tourists and many travelers were left stranded looking for other transportation options.
I did not have to directly deal with any strikes during my time in Italy this spring, although I did just make it back to Siena one day an hour before a bus strike began. Usually these strikes are announced in advance although all tourists are not so aware of this issue. Even if they are, they can throw a monkey wrench into someone’s travel plans.
On my first trip to Italy in 2007, there was a taxi strike in Rome on the day I had to leave. I was there with my brother and sister-in-law, and we had the fun experience of dragging our luggage in the rain for five blocks or more to the metro station. Of course we were not smart enough to pack light so we looked ridiculous negotiating the crowded cobble-stoned streets of via del Corso with all our gear.
At least after that experience, I learned to travel with one bag when going to Italy.