He is back at the Prato della Valle again. How did he do this? He drove around the large square once, past all 78 statues of famous former residents of Padua, Italy, past the scientist, Galileo, and the historian, Titus Livius, and past the poets, Ariosto and Francesco Petrarca, and all the rest. He has driven around it a couple of more times in the past 15 minutes, and now he is back for a fourth try. Or is it the fifth?
Alexi Lalas is not sure. His girlfriend, Jill McNeal of Los Angeles, has the map of Padua spread in front of her. They are looking for a particular street, a particular turn, but keep missing it. The street signs are passed in a perpetual take-no-prisoners surge of traffic: small cars in a constant tangle with fat buses and motor scooters and—watch it!—a woman on a bicycle.
"All right, this street at the next corner is something with an S," Lalas says as he drives the Fiat station wagon. "Here it is. It's...aw, it's a long one. S with a lot of letters. Do you see anything like that on the map?"
"I can't find it," McNeal says.
"Well, what are we looking for?"
"Wait a minute. I lost my place."
They are coming from lunch, where they discovered that pepperoni pizza is a vegetarian dish in Italy, red peppers spread across the cheese and tomato paste. McNeal looked up the word peperoni after the fact and confirmed that it means "peppers" in Italian. The goal now is to find the home of McNeal's Italian-language tutor. Her first lesson is not scheduled until tonight, but this is a practice run to see where she must go on the real trip. The practice run is leading again past the famous Basilica of Saint Anthony—the third or fourth or fifth time for that.
"Jill," Lalas says. "You better leave an hour before the class."
"I don't think it'll lake that long."
"Yes it will," Lalas says, "because you're going to get lost."