A Tale of Two Houses

A Tale of Two Houses

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

During my time in Bologna I have lived in two places. I started out with Stefania and her son Mirko. This was very convenient because it was only about a 10 minute walk to the school. That was on the plus side. On the other side of the balance was the fact that neither Stefania or Mirko (who is only ten) had much interest in interaction and had little patience with my poor Italian. I had opted for the half-board option for a family living arrangement and the food was not particularly good. Stefania has an au-paire who spends half days there and cleans and cooks. She is a Filipina and while she was nice (and spoke English better than she did Italian, she was not much of a cook. In any case after just two weeks I was informed that I would need to move because Stefania’s brother was coming to live with her for awhile.

The second house (casa) is with Patrizia and her son Lorenzo. This is arrangement is much better in many ways. Patrizia is far more outgoing and helps me some with my Italian. Lorenzo is also less timid and I interact with him more than I did with Mirko although at that age I think there is still little patience with my poor Italian. Patrizia cooks and the food is much better here. The apartment is also bigger. I will digress here a bit to note that a “casa” in Italy is really as much the word for home as it is house. Indeed almost all Italians live in apartments. The apartments tend to be smaller and in general I think that they rarely have a living room and much less a dining room. So the kitchen is really the only common room in the house. Patrizia’s kitchen/living/dining room is much larger than was Stefania’s.

Patrizia’s place is much further from school so I must take a bus each way every day. Not a particularly bad thing since it seems that most people take the bus. There is the number 13 which runs about every 5 or 6 minutes and the number 96 that runs with half the frequency but makes half the stops and is much quicker. One can buy a 10 trip trip ticket at any tabaccaio (tobacconist) or edicola (newstand) or at the start of the month buy a monthly pass which substantially reduced the cost and gives unlimited rides for a month. BTW you can buy a variety of other things at the tabacciao and recharge your cell phone there as well. It’s a very popular place and there is usually one on every block and even more in the central part of the city – “inside the walls”.


At Patrizia’s a semi-suburban train station is nearby and I was at first concerned about the noise but quickly adapted to it and the train traffic (which usually virtually non-existent between midnight and 7 AM really doesn’t bother me. It’s those pesky mosquitoes that were the problem. How the little buggers manage to fly to the 4th floor is beyond me. Now, the weather has turned colder and seems to have mostly ended the mosquito problem. Another aside: the mosquitoes here are tiny, make almost no noise but raise a fierce bump. Despite their size, I know from experience that they manage to penetrate socks. They are called “tigre” (tiger) and they live up to their name. Everyone hates them as much as I do. I tried buying some mosquito repellent at the farmacia but that only seemed to be like putting sauce on the pasta from the standpoint of the mosquitoes.

And in case you are interested here is a map with locations of the school (ALCE) and the two houses (le due case).



2 Responses to “A Tale of Two Houses”

  1. Doak Says:

    Joe, I’m hoping to do as you are doing sometime next year or the year after. I checked out ACLE on the web. The school and programs look good. I noted that there’s a program for mature folks like me. I have a ton of questions for you but I’ll wait til you get back. For now I’m curious, and others may be also, about your schedule, what you generally do each day. Ciao

  2. Joe Says:


    I’m sorry to be so late in responding. I can give you lots of information when I get back. I think that the “mature” course is only two weeks so maybe you’ll want to consider a regular one. They’ll put you in at the right level and you’ll do fine. I will do a post shortly on the school and that will answer a few of your questions.

    In bocca al lupo!


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