Dreaming In Italian

Trip to Comacchio

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

During this stay I haven’t gone anywhere except to the rugby game at Parma and that really doesn’t count since I only saw the autostrada and stadium. I had wanted to go to Sardegna for a long weekend but decided that I really didn’t want to do that alone. One of my conversation partners at Scioglilingua (I did a post about this that you can find HERE) was talking about having gone to Comacchio which is on the Adriatic coast east of Ferrara. So I talked to my friends, the Palmieri sisters Liu’ and Monica. It turns out that neither of them had ever gone there either so we planned a day trip.

First go to near Ferrara and then to Comacchio

It takes about 1½ hours to get to this little town. The terrain is mostly very flat since this area, the Pianura Padana, is very flat and fertile, much like the central valley in California. As such it is also wall-to-wall farms, as is the central valley. Unlike the central valley it is an alluvial plain, having been formed by rivers rather than a sea and therefore has lots of water – rivers, streams and canals.

Comaccio, like Venice, was originally built on a number (13 to be precise) islands and so canals and bridges still exist. There is a large marshy lagoon next to it and apparently, until a bit over 100 years ago, the marsh surrounded the town. The marsh is a favorable environment for eels and they are both an economic benefit and a characteristic food there. For lunch I opted for a mixed seafood plate but found the eel so delicious that should I visit again I’ll go for all eel – which is served with polenta.. Very good!

The Trepponti (three bridges) bridge. A symbol of the city.

One of several canals that we crossed on the way to the restaurant

The street and canal where our restaurant was located.

Monica left (looking very serious for some reason) and Liu’. Note that we are seated at a table in a boat on the canal.

Interesting translation . from “scaletta” to ladder. Should be “flight”. Also note that there must be a lot of german speaking tourists.

Now how they got “nipples ” as translation for “little sepie (cuttlefish)” is a mystery.

Monica’s pasta with scampi (the real thing) and pomodorini (little tomatoes).

My fish plate. The eel (anguilla) as at bottom left.



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La B.V. di San Luca

Friday, May 26th, 2017

I was looking at a Bologna website about what was happening in Bologna and I found the item below so I used part of it for the title.

The headline

B.V. stands for Beata Virgine. So it translates to “The Blessed Virgin of San Luca “goes down” into the city: the celebrations. This is a very old tradition. The first time was 5th of July 1433. But let’s go back even further – back to about 1150 when a Greek Hermit from a church in Constantinople, according to legend, had a vision of the Madonna telling him to take this icon, supposedly painted by Saint Luke. So, he essentially stole it and wondered around until he ultimately deposited it in a chapel atop the hill where it now rests for 51 weeks of the year.

The basic icon

The fancy version – guess some gold is needed to make it more dramatic

Now returning to 1433, Bologna had experienced continued rain which threatened to ruin crops and bring on a famine. Town elders decided that maybe the icon could help out so they decided to give it a shot and brought her down from the San Luca chapel into the duomo of the city, San Pietro. Miraculously the rains stopped. So, they’ve brought her down every year since. She comes from the current chapel along the longest portico in the world; 3796 meters long with 666 arches and 15 chapels along the way. According to legend it always rains on that day but I can absolutely testify that it did not rain yesterday, May 20th, when they brought her down. But hey, legends are legends and let’s not be picky. If they quit bringing her down God knows what devastation might befall the city.

The sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca



The start of the procession

And here comes the Madonna carried by 4 priests plus others carrying the canopy

As they are passing.

A large crowd following the Madonna procession.

You can make the 2.3 mile trek yourself if you come to Bologna. Some people do it regularly as exercise. It’s a nice view from the top and an interesting walk. Just don’t do it when the B.V. is coming down or returning.



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Rugby at Parma

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

One of the people that I met on conversationexchange.com, Vincenzo, is a rugby player. When talking with him via Skype I could only see a small part of him and when we first met here in Bologna my comment was that he’s really quite “robusto” (solid, robust). In any case we hung around together, I met his family: Viviana his wife, daughter Elsa and son Dario.


The family

I was curious about rugby since I know little about the sport so I went to watch a rugby game with Vincenzo, his friend Enrico, daughter Elsa and the daughter of Enrico. It was a rainy day but, as with American football rugby is played in any weather.

When we started driving to Parma I heard Vincenzo and Enrico talk about stopping at a “pakistani” for some beer. I already knew that most of these stores that sell a variety of stuff (fruits, vegetables, beer, snacks, etc) are owned by Pakistanis or Bangladeshis so it makes sense that it’s a common term for the little bodegas. So Enrico bought 5 bottles (66 ml ea. – about 24 oz) and a big bag of potato chips. Now in the U.S. it would be impossible to carry this beer into a sporting event but here, at least at a rugby event it’s less of a problem. Besides who could possibly notice that someone is toting that quantity of beer into the stadium. We consumed it all.

Could this person possibly have a backpack full of beer?

We started late and so arrived at the stadium just as the game was about to start. All of the seats were taken except those at the very edge of the stands. It soon became clear why these were available. There was a roof over the stands but near the edge there was rain. So the first half of the game was watched with the help of umbrellas.

Vincenzo in one of the rainy seats with his cute umbrella

I won’t bore you with the details of the game other than to say that while it is quit different from American football it is very much a contact sport. By the end I was getting a hang of the strategy – which seemed to be to make very modest gains before the ball carrier was inevitably tackled (no blocking is allowed) and then another member of the team retrieves the ball and repeats this effort with the hope of breaking through the opposition and getting to the goalposts.

The scrum – teams push against each other to try to get possession of the ball

The ball emerging from the scrum

When we arrived at the game parking was a problem. But since this is Italy, people freely ignored signs warning of the consequences of parking illegally. I was a bit relieved to find that the car was still there and without even a parking ticket after we left the game.

Forced removal? Not today.

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There’s always something happening in Piazza Maggiore

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

New entertainment on Saturday the 22nd of April

Nuove intrattenimento sabato 22 aprile.

puppeteer with belly dancers (burattinaio con le ballerine del ventre)

with little old man (con il vecchietto)

Harpist (arpista)


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