Dreaming In Italian

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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The lasagna (La lasagna)

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

I have a roommate, Nick (from New Hampshire), who is here in Bologna for 4 months on an unpaid internship to learn how to make “sheet” pasta. It’s not very easy (I’ve done it once). You use a long straight rolling pin called a mattarello and wind up with a large circle of very fine pasta from which you can make tagliatelle, ravioli, tortellini, etc. He’s become very good at it so he made some at the house one evening and used it to make lasagna. After taking the lasagna from the oven he put it on a cooling rack to avoid putting it on the wooden surface. He asked if I wanted to serve myself and I said “No, if I do it will probably end up on the floor. So he started to serve it and a moment later I heard a “plop”. The lasagna was on the floor upside down. We managed to salvage enough for a meal. He needs to work a bit on his lasagna – too much bechamel and mozzarella. He still has a lot to learn, but hey, he’s young (20 years old) and enthusiastic, loves cooking and will probably become a good chef.


Ho un coinquilino, Nick da New Hampshire, che e’ qui a Bologna per 4 mese e fa un stage per imparare come si fa la pasta sfoglia. Non e mica facile (l’ho fatto una volta). Si usa una mattarello e finisci con un grande cerchio di sottile pasta da cui puoi fare tagliatelle, ravioli, tortellini, ecc. Lui e’ molto bravo a quel mestiere e l’ha fatto a casa una sera e l’ha usata per preparare una lasagna. Dopo ha sfornato la lasagna ha messo su una sottopentola per evitare metterla sulla superficie di legno. Mi chiedeva se vorrei servire me stesso  e ho detto ” No se lo faccio probabilmente la finire sul pavimento.” Quindi ha iniziato di servirla e dopo un momento ho sentito un “plop”.  La lasagna era su pavimento sottosopra. Abbiamo riuscito di salvare abastanza per un pasto. Lui ha bisogna di lavorare sulla sua lasagna- ha usato troppo besciamella e, almeno a Bologna, non si aggiunge mai la mozzarella. Ha molto da imparare, ma ehi, e’ giovane (ha 20 anni) ed entusiastico , ama cucinare e probabilmente diventerà un bravo chef.

I didn’t have presence of mind to take pictures of the whole disaster but I did recreate the scene in the pictures below.

On the “trivet”

On the floor

What we managed to save

Non avevo la presenza di spirito di fare le foto dell’intero disastro ma l’ho ricreato la scena nelle foto sotto.

My editor wasn’t available to check my italian so please suggest corrections.

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Bagni di Mario (Thermal baths of Mario)

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

I had heard about this site in Bologna, in fact I did a translation of tourist information from the Italian about the place. Unfortunately it is not open for visits from the public. Still it may open in the future for tourists visits so I wanted to write about it. It’s called Bagni di Mario. It is really misnamed since it’s not a bath but a system for water capture, settling (to remove sediment) and ultimately providing water to the center of Bologna for public fountains including the Fontana del Nettuno.

The architects plan for the water works.

Ho sentito parlare di questo sito a Bologna. Infatti  ho tradotto dall’italiano delle informazioni turistiche su questo posto. Purtroppo al momento non è aperto al pubblico. Tuttavia può darsi che in futuro venga aperto alle visite turistiche e così volevo scriverne. Si chiama Bagni di Mario. In realtà il nome e’ sbagliato perché non sono bagni (terme), ma un sistema di raccolta e decantazione (depurazione) delle acque e infine per la fornitura di acqua alle fontane pubbliche del centro di Bologna, inclusa la Fontana del Nettuno. 

It was built in 1563 and collects water from surrounding springs, decants it and then it flows through small brick tunnels (I guess that pipes didn’t really exist at that time) all of the way to the center of Bologna a distance of about 1.6 km.

The domed ceiling above.

The main collection point

Closeup of above

Secondary decanting pool

Long walk to the end of a tunnel

A “chimney” completely coated with limestone

The path to the lower level – a lot of water is down there

There were 3 statues with a water them here

E’ stato realizzato in 1563. Raccoglie l’acqua delle sorgenti circostanti, la fa decantare e poi la fa defluire da qui all’interno di un cunicolo di mattoni (immagino che i tubi non esistessero a quell’epoca) fino al centro a Bologna, a una distanza di 1.6 km.


Update: My editor told me that pipes did, in fact exist, in the form of terracotta cones for constructing a pipe. The architect used them for the fountain.
Aggiornamento: Il mio redattore mi ha detto che infatti esistevano i tubi a forma di cono di terracotta per costruire i tubi. L’architetto ha usato quelli per la fontana.

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