Unmuzzled Lapdog

A Bus to Lake Garda, June 2009
We had a day free in Verona, so decided to take a bus to Lake Garda. Sunday morning at the bus station we found a bus going to Sirmione, the peninsula that juts into the lake at the south end of Lake Garda, and bought a ticket.
We’d had in mind already that Sirmione might be an outing destination for Sunday and so it was, with people strolling about and the traffic slow and car parks clogged. We had lunch in quite a smart restaurant specialising in fish, il Grifone, then wandered around the peninsula – no, not quite around, as the water was high and we couldn’t get quite around, we wandered high in the peninsula and had a look at the busy tourist town of Sirmione, and then went to the bus stop to get the bus back to Verona.
A woman got on the bus ahead of us with a lapdog in her handbag. The next bit was done in such fast and agitated Italian that we couldn’t understand a word at the time, but have since discovered what had been going on. You can take a dog on an Italian bus provided it is muzzled; and this tiny dog, no bigger than a bag of sugar, wasn’t muzzled. The driver was insistent, and the woman equally that her dog wouldn’t try to bite anyone, and would probably end up with fewer teeth than it started with even if it did. But the driver, who was something of a Mussolini lookalike with a round bald head, was having none of it. He went to his cabinet and got out the rule book, found the page and pointed to it with a stabbing finger, he prayed to the lady – put his hands together and said: ‘prego’ and tried all manner of argument that we didn’t follow a word of (he was from Brescia, where the accent is difficult enough to understand at the best of times).
Eventually the driver got back in his cab and pulled the bus dramatically and urgently into the side of the kerb with a jamming of the brakes, and said to the woman, that until she got that unmuzzled dog off the bus, he, the bus, and all the humanity it contained were going nowhere. And he folded his arms firmly to show he meant it. So the woman, with much voluble complaint, got off the bus, the next bus would be the last of the day, so she looked a bit crestfallen.
You can see the driver’s point, for if you let a small sandwich-sized dog get away with the rules, the next person on will bring a bigger dog, and then there’ll be a bigger one.
All this meant that the bus was now a good forty minutes late, so the driver set off, as only an Italian can, not so much to make up time as to show that he’s in a strop, though the two are fairly similar in outcome.
We got back safely though.

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