Summer Postcards 2011

I'm Still Standing ... in a Cornfield

PADUA, Italy—When I learned that Elton John would be playing in Padua, I wasted little time in buying a ticket. I wasn’t going to miss seeing the legend in action.

A friend and I thought through the logistics. Getting to the concert would be easy. In true European fashion, it started at 9:30 p.m., so we planned to take a train from Venice to Padua and find our way to the venue. As for getting back, we weren’t too concerned: we would make sure to grab a cab around midnight in time to catch the 12:41 a.m. train, the last one out of Padua for the night. We wanted to be sure to make that final train: if we didn’t, we would be forced to spend the night at the sketchy Padua train station and wouldn’t be back in Venice until 6 a.m.

On the day of the concert, everything began according to plan. Once we arrived at the Padua train station, we quickly grabbed a taxi to Piazzola sul Brenta, the concert site.

But it wasn’t as expected—the venue was located well outside of Padua, a good 20-25 minute drive. And we weren’t exactly driving through civilization. As a California boy, the only time I had ever seen so many cornfields was while watching “Field of Dreams.”

After the taxi dropped us off, we made our way to our seats. Elton came on stage three minutes early, and as predicted, rocked until the end.


And that was where our plans began to fall apart.

There were no cabs anywhere. Not a single one. My watch read 12:00 a.m., meaning, realistically, that we had 20 minutes to catch a cab if we had any hope of making the 12:41 train. Frantically, I began to call taxi services. No one answered—or they did, only to hang up when my atrocious Italian skills became clear.

We had three options. First, we could hitchhike back to the station, as my friend suggested. I quickly shot this one down. Second, we could walk the eight miles back to the train station, sleep there, and get back to Venice at 6 a.m. I rejected this plan as well. I knew that somewhere, walking all night through Italian cornfields, we would take a wrong turn and end up in Middle Earth.

So we took the third route: continue calling cabs. At first, our luck showed few signs of turning. Finally, as we passed a drink kiosk, an Italian man offered us a Coke in English. This was our chance: I told him that I would call the cab company’s number if he would tell the cabbie our location. He agreed, and after talking with the cabbie for a few minutes, told us to wait near the bank down the road. The taxi would be there in 20 minutes, he promised.

The time was 12:38 a.m. Hopes of catching the 12:41 train had long since vanished. Now we just wanted to get back to civilization.

We waited. Shops began to close. If this cab didn’t show, we were going to have to trek back to Padua. I could feel my blood pressure rising. 12:58 came along, and still no cab. I began to plead with people at the now-closing stores, asking for directions, help on the phone—something.

And then, out of the mist, I saw the little “Taxi” light approaching. With a huge sigh of relief, I ran toward it and hopped in. And the two of us, realizing that it wasn’t that much further to drive back to Venice, had the cab driver do just that. Sure, it made quite a dent in the travel budget, but it was well worth the trade.

Robert S. Samuels ’14 is a sports writer in Leverett House.


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