Dreaming In Italian

And the circus came to town….

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

I had mentioned earlier that I saw a circus tent in Piazza Maggiore – considered the very heart of the city. As circus tents go it was not very big and I’ve repeated the photo here.

Ooh, the circus is coming to town! 

After it was there for about a week I noticed a booth near the entrance and asked about cost. They said it was free but this was the last day in Piazza Maggiore. They were moving at the end of that day to a park outside of the center. I took some information and went to the web site. Reservations were required and only by phone. Thankfully my Italian is good enough now that I succeeded in reserving for 3 nights for 2 each night and it turns out that I went with a different friend each time.

The first night was great. There were acrobats, a tight rope walker, a juggler, a clown of sorts, and lots of humor woven into the the circus acts. The tent was bigger but still not huge. One item of interest is that they welcomed children of all ages. The problem with that was that those very young, let’s say 3 or younger were very distracting and I think that the better policy would be to limit it to kids at least 6 years old. Some of the semi-humorous comments from a couple of performers indicated they they would agree.

Cute little youthful offender!


The clown, all about little bits of fire and small explosions.


One acrobatic act


A second acrobat


Acrobats with a BIG ball


Wire walker. A lot of humor in this act between the musicians and the walker


Woman in a BIG “hula hoop”. Really good and novel with strong reaction from the crowd

The second night was pretty much a bust. Almost all of the acts were aerial acrobats, non really exceptional and it was quite repetitive. So lets go straight to the third night. This was absolutely the best of all. A crazy band that was always there. Jugglers, aerial acrobats, more down to earth acrobats, bicycles, a lot of clowning around, i.e. humor woven into the acts. It really was spectacular.

The line to get in and the tent.

The band

Acrobats using poles (also the second one in the background). There were 4 people involved.

Another big “hula hoop” – a guy this time and even better than the woman the first night.

3 on a bike. Missed the photo of the third person standing on the shoulders of the second.

More acrobats – 2 columns of 3 persons

Another acrobat

Of course I missed lots of photo opportunities (especially the 3 jugglers). Due to low light and motion there are lot of blurred photos but I think that you get the idea. Also there were no young tykes running around which was a plus.

The tickets were FREE!! At the end of each show they encourage people to make donations as they exit and I did.

There was a little bit of pre-performance entertainment while in the line to get in. There was a dog that was just crazy for the game of  “return the stick”. You know that game; throw the stick, the dogs gets it and returns it. So his partners in the game had left so he came to the line looking for someone else. I accepted the challenge. After 5 or 6 rounds I realized that this would never end so the next time he brought the stick back I turn to the guy behind me, handed him the stick and said “your turn”. He accepted and continued with the dog, then passed it on back. When everyone was in the tent, after awhile the dog also came in with a stick in his mouth but was shooed back out.

Let me know if you’re enjoying my posts.

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By popular demand….

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Well, since I did have one comment requesting further information about where I live that qualifies as popular demand.

First a map.

Map of my location and particular points of interest – at least for me.

The red marker is where I live. It’s really a great location although not as beautiful as many parts of Bologna. There are bus stops very close by which are extremely convenient. There’s also a terrific supermarket barely more than a block away as well as the “Mercato delle Erbe with fresh veggies, fish, bakeries, butcher shops and all manner of foods including places to eat. My gym is a short bus ride away and I can easily go to the center where I do volunteer work 3 days a week (but only 2 hours and 15 minutes each time. I invite you to looks at a map Bologna via google maps and you’ll note that the center of Bologna is an egg shape – the boundary of the walls that mostly no longer exist. So within this boundary is considered the “center”. It’s a great place to be.

View of the general area with the structures for electricity generation

Approaching my house from the bus stop there are these strange painted structures. They are actually the visible part of apparatus for generating electricity from an underground river that turns turbines. The murals are nice and serve as more than just funky art. There seems to be an unwritten rule that if some surface is decorated then it is forbidden to fill it with graffiti.

the building in the middle is mine – #16

The little piazza with steps leading down. All around where I live it is a pedestrian area and my apartment faces the rear so it’s really quiet.

A partial view of the little piazza and pedestrian street. 

You can note the ever present graffiti. I read recently that the city government has recently declared war on the graffiti writers. I wish them luck but am rather dubious. But if they can cut it down by even half it would be great.

There I am on the “citfono”. Intercom at the entrance.

The “living room” seating.

The living room is also the “dining room” so it can be a little cramped having 3 people for dinner but I’ve done so once and plan to start having 3 guests for dinner on a regular basis.

Entertainment and storage in the living room

When seated in the easy chair this is the view. The cabinets and drawers are convenient storage.

Items brought from “home” in California to “home” in Bologna.

Armoires in hallway

Hallway amoires become a broom closet (rispostiglio) and pantry (dispensa). 

Note the trash cans for recycling. They are much more conscientious about recycling here. There is the indifferenziato (non recyclable stuff), glass and metal, plastic, paper and organic. I’m being a good citizen by recycling all of it.

Bathroom one side.

bathroom – other 1/2

I’ve learned to use the bidet. Heck I figure that if they use these things all over Europe there must be some benefit. They are in every home or hotel room that I’ve ever been in.

master bedroom

Armoires (IKEA of course). Lots of storage capacity.

Chest of drawers in my bedroom

Guest bedroom with “desk”

Well that’s it for now. Next up, the circus. Stay tuned.





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Finally some photos

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

I’m just about done with the bureaucracy and certainly tired of complaining about it. Sooner or later it will all be settled and now I’ve got some photos – yeah!  Mostly this is just random stuff that I hope that you find interesting.

A little well organized street art. It says “point for the collection and distribution of used alibis?

Not everyone is as enamored with Italy as I am. There certainly are economic and government issues which I am largely insulated from.

A typical beach scene. This is Pesaro in the Marche region of Italy. I went there just for an overnight stay. Almost all of the beaches are private. Perhaps you can go to this beach if you stay at the hotel that owns this stretch without paying anything but my guess is that you must pay for a “lentino” (little bed) and an “ombrellone” (beach umbrella). I think it costs about 5 or 6 euros a day.

There’s a park near where I live and I happened to notice the name. It was renamed in honor of the victims of the twin tower attack in New York. Like most of these signs it also recounts the story of this park. The space was originally a convent, then a tobacco factory (if I read it correctly), then a building that was bombed during WWII. There’s a parking garage underneath and when they were excavating it they found an Etruscan burial ground.

Wild blueberries were available until recently. Note that the spoon is a demitasse spoon.

Mmmm, wild blueberries on my cereal in the morning. Now they have disappeared so it’s bananas probably until spring. But who knows maybe in the winter there will be blueberries from Chile like in the U.S.

On my way to the dentist this week I decided to walk and took a route through streets that I’ve never seen. I thought that these two buildings were pretty interesting and work a second look. I’d say it must be rather old. Note the horizontal wood beam above the pillars.

The one next door. A pretty small one. They both look pretty old and in need of a little TLC.

A poster on the window of a book shop “libreria”. Roberto says “Be happy! And if at time happiness forgets you, don’t you forget happiness”. (at least that’s the best translation that I can do).

Ooh, the circus is coming to town! They’ve erected this big tent in Piazza Maggiore. Well, it’s not really THAT big but I can hardly wait. I need to find out details. It opens sometime next week.

Well, that’s all for now. I have some ideas for new posts. Maybe I’ll show some pictures of my apartment and environs if there is interest. Also some comments on my experience with the bank, credit card, Amazon and the utility companies. Any requests?

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Benvenuto in Italia (Welcome to Italy)

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Whenever I have some strangeness, at the bank, regarding utilities or the bureaucracy here my friend Lia says “benvenuto in Italia”. She had warned me about this when I was here last spring and, yes, I knew that since I never had contact with the bureaucracy here and never paid bills that it would be more, well, interesting. I’ve already written about some of my first encounters with the legendary Italian bureaucracy but this week I had two particularly “special” encounters. I must, like anyone that is not a European Union resident, apply for a permesso di soggiorno to stay here more than 3 months. So as I’ve written before I did all the right things to make the request for the permesso and was given an appointment date and time (believe it or not) for last Monday, the 1st of October. So I duly showed up at the immigration office at the appointed time to find a room full of people milling around, no instruction posted on the walls and no actual person to provide information. I looked up the word for “corral” in Italian (it’s “recinto”) just so I could tell Italian friends later that we were like cattle milling around in a corral. Since I had an appointment I was optimistic that someone would probably call my name after a bit and I would be taking care of the business for which I came (foolish me). I did notice that people near one side of the corral would get the attention of some police person (this office is part of the police department) and ask for information so I did the same and was told that I was to wait until someone came out and called my name. So after 45 minutes someone came out and asked about who had appointments. I and a few others raised our hands. She came over, found my name on the list and said, “hmmm, yes, here you are, just wait in the line over there with the others. So I did and after about 15 minutes I was handing over documents and having my thumbs and index fingers fingerprinted. Then I was given a sheet of paper saying to go to a different part of the questura (police headquarters) the next morning for an appointment at 10:20 for further fingerprints.

So the next morning I was sure to be on time because I wanted to get this all out of the way and stop by a store and buy something before going to do some volunteer work at the library. What was I thinking? I was like Charlie Brown and the Italian bureaucracy was Lucy with the football. I found the address and from across the street I saw probably 20 people clustered around the door – uh, oh – here we go again. No information on display, nobody official to ask about what to do. Fortunately I heard a couple of students speaking English, one was from Wisconsin and the other from Russia. They said, when the guy comes out to the doorway to call out a name, give him the piece of paper that you received yesterday or else you could be here for hours. So again, the appointment means exactly nothing. Apparently your place in line is determined by when you hand over your appointment paper. After almost an hour and 20 minutes I decided that I needed to be a little furbo. That’s an Italian word that really doesn’t have an adequate translation into English. Basically it means telling a little white lie or whatever is required to turn a situation around. So, the next time the guy popped his head out I said, “Wait, I have an a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes for my eye and besides I’m a senior and the poster says that seniors have priority.” So he said, “OK, you’re next”. I was done in 5 minutes and made it to my appointment at the library almost on time. When I told this story to some Italian friends they said that I’m definitely becoming more Italian. I’m trying to qualify for my furbizia (perhaps “craftiness” is a good translation) merit badge.

So now the application is in process. All of the paperwork has my residence address, my email address and my phone number. One would think that it would be reasonable for someone to send a message through one of those communication channels to let me know that the permesso was available. Ha, ha,ha. What a foolish thought. I was told that the permesso would be issued sometime within 3 months and I needed to go to a website periodically and check to see if it was ready. Benvenuto in Italia!

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