Free at last, free at last….

Free at last, free at last….

Monday, June 1st, 2020

…. thank God almighty, free at last. That is the ending of the famous “I Have a Dream Speech” by Martin Luther King at the Washington Memorial in Washington D.C. in 1963. Well, free – sort of free.  Like black people in the U.S. the dream was not completely realized. That phrase came to mind with the new decree arrived two weeks ago on May 18th. Restaurants could serve seated customers with restrictions of social distancing, mask requirements and periodic sanitation of the premises. Stores are open everywhere with similar rules. You can travel freely in your region without a form declaring where you are going and why. Many more people will be going back to work, to see friends or relatives in other cities. The next big date is June 3 when the borders both within Italy and for travel between Italy and the EU countries (but only the Schengen ones which is most of the EU) become open.  I’m writing this two days before I can (and will) go to Torino. There was some debate as recently as a week ago that some regions might still have closed borders. In particular, regions with few virus cases have been fearful of a flood of people coming from the north, especially Lombardia which is the worse hit region. I’m sure that was the compromise deal for phase 2, i.e. more freedom of movement but only within the region. Still I am an optimist and several days ago bought my ticket on the first high speed train from Bologna to Torino on the morning of 3 June. So now it is clear that I can go see my sweetie and help her with the remaining preparations for her move to Bologna.

In a certain sense it is probably a good thing that I couldn’t go to Torino earlier. I made the move from my former apartment to the new one on May 21 and had planned to go to Torino on the 23. That really could have been a near disaster. In my zeal to see Laura I didn’t really consider that it would take awhile to organize things here enough to make her move go more slowly when she moves herself and her stuff to Bologna in June. I fixed some minor problems and discovered some new ones that need to be addressed. I organized the kitchen so that I could cook and bought 2 or 3 things from Amazon to help with the endeavor.

I also had to engage with the Italian bureaucracy a bit. I was able to change my address online rather than go to the anagrafa office – kind of a records office. I was able (I think) to change the address for the garbage service to my new address online as well but that office has not yet responded in any way. When I return to Bologna I can go to the department of city government for a revised identity card since I don’t think that I can do that online.

But, ah yes, there was another problem that still lingers. During the day of the move I did something that caused a pulled muscle in my groin area. It’s the kind of thing that’s slow to heal and makes it difficult to walk. If I walk very much I know that it will just make it worse. So I’m physically idle most of the time and taking anti-inflammatory pills in hopes that I will be well enough to be much help when I arrive at Laura’s house.

Now some other observations. My living room has 3 big windows overlooking via Santo Stefano. It’s officially the first floor but in effect it’s really the second since there is a level of my house below the principle one. Keep in mind that in Italy what would be called the first floor in the US is the ground floor. So if it weren’t for the small old elevator it would be a 3rd floor walkup in US lingo. From that vantage point I have a pretty decent view and that leads to the subject of swallows. First I was absolutely delighted to see that there were lots, LOTS, of swallows in the new neighborhood (quartiere) where I am now living.  Even more than I saw at Laura’s place in Torino. Late one afternoon I was watching the performance of squadrons of swallows and noticed a older guy on his terrace across the street from me enjoying the same show. We waved to each other and tried to express our enjoyment of the spectacle with gestures since we’d never be able to talk to each other from that distance, especially with the street noise. Double pane windows tame the street noise when the windows are closed.

A view of via Santo Stefano looking toward the very center of town.

After eating pre-prepared junk from the supermarket for a couple of days I was able to cook again. So that has been satisfying. I can’t yet resume exercising due to the groin injury but hope that I can do so before too long. I feel so much healthier when I stress my  body a bit through exercise. A couple of things that I’ve been eating:

Spaghetti aglio e olio (garlic & oil) jacked up with anchovies and peperoncino (red pepper flakes) and topped with pecorino romano – with a sicilian red wine and cherries for desert
Chick thigh with potatoes, cherry tomatoes and zucchini – kind of using whatever I found in the fridge before it goes to waste. The wine is a Veneto region chardonnay

Since I haven’t had a haircut since February 5 I’m starting to look like an old hippy (certainly the old part is unmistakable). I also decided to let my beard grow since I wasn’t really going anywhere for awhile. I kind of like the beard and Laura’s OK with it so I’m going to keep it and regarding the hair, I’ll maybe have a ponytail for awhile to complete the hippy image. Maybe I’ll even start wearing my hawaiian shirts around town occasionally. 

Not a great picture but you get the idea.

The next update will come from Torino.

4 Responses to “Free at last, free at last….”

  1. Joy O'Neal Says:

    I am so glad to hear that you moved and will be going to help Laura move in a couple of days. It is great to hear how you are doing. Have an easy and non stressful move with Laura!! I look forward to hearing about it. The beard looks nice and I have always liked long hair on men. You go!

  2. Joe Says:

    Hi Joy,

    I always appreciate your comments. There is no such thing as an easy and stressless move but we’ll manage. Thanks for the comments on appearance. I’ll update from time to time as well as showing the new house in Bologna when it’s reasonably organized. I hope things are going well with you. I try avoid delving into politics in my posts but it has always been clear for the last 3 1/2 years that the country urgently needs a change in leadership. It seems that it just keeps getting worse there. While I’m an Italian resident it’s still really sad to see how the US has degraded.


  3. Susan R Frey Says:

    You write very well. I find your writing interesting. Since I will never live outside the US, in this lifetime, I can go there through friends like you who have braved such endeavors. How are you allowed to stay in Italy indefinitely? Are you going to become an Italian citizen?

  4. Joe Says:

    Yes, I can basically stay here indefinitely. I have a visa type “residenza elettiva” which is elective residence (seems an obvious translation) which means I’m coming to Italy not for any other reason that I want to. It’s the most difficult one to get. You have to already have a residence here (rental is OK) and show enough unearned income to live comfortably without working in Italy. Every year for 5 years I need to renew my permesso di soggiorno (residence permit) and after that I can apply for a permesso that doesn’t expire, like a green card in the U.S. I may apply for citizenship but that would be further in the future. The only real advantage that I can see to that would be that I would no longer renew my enrollment in the national health system. I would also be able to get an Italian passport but I don’t see any particular advantage to that.

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