Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Public health, public transport and silly bloke!

Photo: the Soriano nel Cimino Health Centre and Hospital
- the pink building at the end on the left, with the ramp,
about 150 metres down the road from us.
The building is many hundreds of years old but the centre is wonderful
.... why are we so obsolescence and inadequacy prone in Australia?

A cough turned nasty last night so I put on overcoat to go to the health centre and, looking in the pocket for keys, discovered the key of the toilet of the Caffe San Leonardo in Viterbo... and no car keys, which were supposed to be there!!

So... when I thought I had lost the iPhone at Bangkok airport that was not true. When I thought I had left my wallet on the Orte-Roma train, that was not true. But a phone call this morning to the lovely bar where we had coffee and beaut eats with Noelene and Ian in Viterbo yesterday established that I had kindly left them our car keys, not their toilet key. No worry, they said (in Italian, you do need that here), the keys are here.

No asking Noelene and Ian for a lift, they ducked off to London last night in their peripatetic way, so with me stuck at home with aching cold dreading the Friday plane, Elena has taken the treno to Viterbo, an adventure by herself, which should be fun.

I will next put up some photos from yeaterday, Viterbo is extraordinary. As for the train, it's very much like taking the little train from Kiama to Nowra, the same local train feel, but the scenery quite different. There is a timetable here. An art deco style to the main stations (others have some platforms at ground level and two feet wide!) and (some ancient) carriages. The Roma-Viterbo railway was put in, quite separate from the regular state rail system, by Mussolini. And yes, the trains do still run on time!

A spectacular route to travel. Cost for a day ticket in the Viterbo province on public transport Euros 2.50.

The other important thing to report is that I had learned earlier that while foreigners are not able to access health services (as distinct from private doctors) here during the day (we would have to go to Viterbo to access this under the Australia-Italy health agreement), we can go to the local health centre between 8pm and 6am when an emergency doctor is on hand. You do need to be able to speak to the doctor in Italian, or have someone translate for you. Service was instant and excellent. As I have no lung trouble and as antibiotics are given in Italy only when infection reaches the lungs (sensible, really) the doctor (the on-duty doctor, from his prescription pad, appears to be otherwise in general practice in this town) prescribed what would probably be called a complementary medicine in Australia acetilcisteina, for mucolytic therapy.

Dispensed by excellent farmacia this morning.

Wonderful health system in this town of 9000 or so. Fancy being able to go and knock on a door and 9pm and see a doctor instantly!!

Helen also commented yesterday on roads and transport. This region is rather like the Shoalhaven in having a scattering of small villages. The roads are not as good here as in the Shoalhaven, there is not the same (Helen's words) anal preoccupation with repair of roads; on the other hand (also Helen's observation) the public transport system is remarkable, fast bus links between villages and connections to rail services. Yes, Italy has any number of political issues, and does have public debt, but there is such focus on quality and care of life, in ways and with sensitivities we scarcely comprehend let alone expect in Australia.

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