Back in Bologna – the first week
Saturday, April 7th, 2012
I arrived in Bologna on March 29th and the adventures began. I went to the clinic where Paolo was working (he’s an orthodontist), left my bags there and walked to the center of town to buy a SIM. I chose Vodafone and within minutes my unlocked iPhone was working perfectly. I walked around a little bit more because I had a lot of time to kill and because it was really good to stretch my legs after 12 total hours in an airplane and two hours in the Frankfurt airport. When Paolo was finally ready to go it turns out that he had arrived on his scooter rather than by car so I needed to take another cab to his apartment. Almost immediately we left in his SUV for his house in the country a few kilometers outside of Imola. We had dinner at a nearby agritourismo with his lovely partner Cinzia and Paolo paid – that was a surprise because Paolo tends to be tight fisted.
The next day we returned to town and I started searching for a room. Paolo, a font of erroneous information had told me via email that it would be easy to find a room. There is a website roughly identical to craigslist called “bakeca” (in real Italian it is “bacheca” which means bulletin board). Yes, there are lots of rooms, but there are issues. Issue number one: most of those advertising rooms are students. I’m not really very interested in staying in an apartment with four bedrooms three of which are occupied by 20 year olds. So that narrows the availability down a LOT. Issue number 2, a lot of the apartments are either in cheap, undesirable areas or far out of the center of town. I think of the center as within the walls and that was my preference although just outside the walls would also be OK. The third issue is that most people wanting to share a room don’t want to rent it for a brief period – like the 8 weeks that I’ll be here. I will spare you all of the details but I wound up staying in a room at one of the apartments owned by the school (starting on Monday) which was quite nice (although considerable traffic noise) but I really wanted to stay with an Italian to improve my language skills.
So on Thursday I transferred to a lovely place with a sweetheart of a woman of “a certain age” in a very nice area of the city not far outside the walls. I’ll do a more complete post on the apartment later. The apartment does not have DSL (sigh) so I ran, well took the bus, into the center of town to acquire an internet key. This plugs into a PC and give internet access via the cell phone network. The speed is not bad – I measured 2-4 Mb download and 0.4 Mb upload so not too bad but not good enough for a video Skype connection unfortunately. Still I would die without internet so it’s good enough.
Today is Saturday the 7th of April and the day before Pasqua (Easter). Cesarina has gone to Tuscany for 3 days so I have the place for myself. I went shopping and bought a fish, “orato”, that translates into “sea bream”. I’ve never seen it in the U.S. and it seems to be highly prized here and I decided I’d give it a try. I’ll let you know. I also bought a few other things including a small bottle of grappa that should be exceptional. Oh, yes, I also bought the book, Gomorrah. You may or may not have seen the movie which I thought was pretty good. Even most Italians need to watch it with subtitles since most of it is in the Neapolitan dialect – just the movie, not the book. Claudia, a friend, recommended it to me so I’m going to give it ago.