In the summer of 2001, I found myself sitting on the hot concrete floor of the Florence train station in tears. Leaning against my red and black backpack and staring at the train schedule, the times and arrivals blurred into a sea of numbers as I tried to add up the various connections I needed to make. I had to get to the Cinque Terra by sunset, and as train after train pulled out of the station I wondered if that was the one meant for me or if I would sit here forever in the hot purgatorial air of the platform watching travelers hop on and off with the kind of confidence only Europeans possess with rail travel. In Germany, I could squeak out a few phrases in broken German, ask simple, basic questions about directions and travel, and most of the time they would take pity on me and switch to English. But Bush was in the White House, I was an ugly American, and the Italians were having none of it.