A day trip to Chiusi in Tuscany found us in 2000 year old Etruscan tunnels and looking at Etruscan tombs of about the same age. It also found us in a not so old tourist office with a very modern problem - the bank ATM machine ate our card. When you say it in Italian, it sounds so much classier, but the end result is the same - we are without Marty's ATM card and therefore totally dependent on my card which I always considered the backup card. What would happen to us then if my card was somehow compromised? Nicola at the Chiusi Tourist Office was very kind, very sympathetic, and very helpful but there wasn't a whole lot that he could do to help us at the time - it was Saturday afternoon and the bank would be closed until Monday morning at 8:20. We were suppose to be in Rome on Monday morning, not Chiusi!
So here are our new rules for ATM withdrawals that might be helpful when you travel:
1. Only withdraw money from ATM machines that are directly connected to a bank, not freestanding ones.
2. Only withdrawal money from ATM machines during hours when the bank is open, therefore if there is a problem, you can resolve it right away.
3. Withdrawal money from the city or town that you are staying in and not one where you have taken a day trip to. In this way, if there is a problem that can not be resolved immediately, you are at least already in that town and do not have to make a special trip back someplace in order to rectify the problem.
All of this requires thinking ahead more than just spontaneously withdrawing money when you need it, but it is probably worth it in the end.
The conclusion to the story...We packed up the car to leave for Rome and stopped in Chiusi on the way (fortunately at least it was in the right direction). Marty went into the bank armed with all the documents that we could muster while I stayed in the car to watch the luggage which was very visable (I couldn't see risking resolving one problem only to be replaced by another problem i.e. stolen luggage). About 45 minutes later, Marty emerged with his ATM card in hand. We drove to Rome returning our rental car about 2 hours late. We had to pay an extra 18E for returning the car late but that was nothing compared to the pit in our stomachs that morning wondering what the next step would be if we couldn't retrieve our card.