Travelogue – Part 2

Travelogue – Part 2

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

I arrived in Bologna on Friday and Paolo, the 60ish orthodontist, met me at the airport. It was nice of him to meet me and I went with him to do some errands while we waited for Luca from the school to be free. We went to someplace, a friend of a friend, to pick up some speaker for a party that he had planned at his country house the next day. Then we went to his ottica (eyeglass store) to have his glasses repaired, then finally we connected with Luca from the school to get me settled in the temporary apartment until I could move into the apartment with the family. I still don’t know what the family really means in this context but it’s not really important. I think that when you’re in Italy you just need to learn to go with the flow. So I’m here and after learning how to get into the place and familiarizing myself with the keys, etc, I’m reasonably comfortable. One thing that I must say that if offered a student apartment think twice about it. The kitchen is not well equipped, the plumbing leaks and it’s a bit noisy – actually rather noisy. Since it is rather hot here at this time of year, during the night you have a choice: leave the window open and have lots of noise or close it and be really hot. So which method of not being able to sleep do you choose? Of course what can you really expect? If you were a 23 year old student and used to relatively primitive housing arrangements it wouldn’t be bad at all. Paolo is a very high energy guy. He has a plane and a boat,  loves to flirt with any pretty girl in the vicinity and is quite a dynamo. He suggested that I use a SIM card that he had for guests and I went along with that. It actually worked out pretty well. The SIM card worked OK in the unblocked phone that I brought with me although I had to erase all of the text messages from a Spanish woman that had used it before.  We went to lunch with an American woman (Lisa) who is a manager of some sort with John Hopkins University that has a significant branch here. She was nice and everyone spoke Italian – most of the time at least. That evening or maybe the next we went to see the Vagina Monologues , of all things, which Lisa directed and had a significant role in. It was a mix of Italian and English dialog and I had a good time trying my best to carry on a decent conversation in Italian,

So today I walked more than I have in a long time. I walked all the way to the center of town, Piazza Maggiore and the twin towers. That seems like a lot but probably was only a little over a mile. In Oakland it makes less sense to walk, at least from where I live, since it seems that there’s no “there there” as what’s her name said. In Bologna in the center it’s jam packed with all kinds of stuff so it makes sense. I was told that I needed to buy a little bag to put all of my valuable stuff into. Lisa (the John Hopkins woman) said that carrying a wallet in your back pocket was not really a bright idea. Pickpockets would mark me as a tourist and I would be fair game. I did notice that almost all of the men carried a little bag for such purposes. Paolo directed me to an open air market where I could expect to find good prices on such things so I walked there and found a nice little bag that seemed just the right size to hold my camera, wallet, and other assorted things for the modest sum of 8 euros. It has a nice little pocket on the outside that is perfect for change – and one accumulates a fair amount of that since euros come with 1 and 2 euro coins. It also has a little side pocket that fits my little “telefonino”

Note the cell phone in the little pocket on the side

My man bag

(cell phone) perfectly. So now I’m a happy camper. The phone works OK after spending a fair amount of time with the manual that I had already downloaded to my laptop, I have the bag, I have a place to stay and I’ve had a couple of good Bolognese meals. I find that my Italian works pretty well although I dearly want to improve it. I did go to the school yesterday and met my Skype tutor in person as well as a couple of people that I’ve talked with during the process of getting everything arranged here. Tonight I had good meal and found that they served grappa gratis after the meal – a potentially dangerous thing for me but I was prudent since I need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed (I wonder how you say THAT in Italian) to meet my family tomorrow morning.

I need four keys to get into my apartment. One is for the front door. Then there is a second one that gets me through a door into a little hallway for two apartments. Then there is a third old fashioned looking on that is a form of security gate in front of my apartment door and finally one that actually opens the door. I thought that it would be a challenge to figure out which key was which but interestingly enough the keys are, by design, coded by length. The longest opens the front door and the shortest the apartment door. It certainly makes things easier for everyone.

Coded by length

The key set for the apartment

At the local giornalaio (newstand) I bought a map of Bologna yesterday and when I bought a Corriere della Sera ( the Milan newspaper – kind of the Italian equivalent of the New York times) today he treated me like a long lost friend. I did notice that they had the latest Rat-Man comic which I will probably buy tomorrow. My friend Gabriele introduced me to Rat-Man. The cartoonist that writes and draws these parodies of popular movies. Gabriele sent me links to the Rat-Man versions of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings which I thought hilarious and the latest one looks like a parody of Rambo. I can hardly wait. Of course, while they are interesting, you really need to have at least a modest knowledge of Italian to really appreciate them. If anyone wants a link to the pdf version of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings version, leave a comment and I’ll send it to you.

included in this parody, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stalone among others

The Rat-Man that I bought.

So I bought one and am enjoying it. I’ll probably come back with several.

A presto!



2 Responses to “Travelogue – Part 2”

  1. Jamie P. Says:

    Ciao, Joseppe! Good to see that you’re getting into the local routine quickly. Molto bene!

    When do you move to ‘your family’s’ house? Do you already know where it is and who they are, or is this selection still to be made?

    Your previous post got me interested in meeting again over grappa(s) when you return. O.K.? Va bene?

    P.S.: If you do get a chance to send a pdf of one of the RAT-MAN stories, include me on the list. Grazie mille.

  2. Joe Says:

    Ciao, Jamie,

    I’m in the apartment now and will post about that before long. Quando torno a casa beviamo un po’ di grappa. (When I return home let’s drink a little grappa.) I’ll send a link via your email.


    P.S. The Italian is “Giuseppi” since they don’t have a “G”. I just use Joe but if in Italian were to spell it, it would be Gio’.

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