Dreaming In Italian

By popular demand….

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Well, since I did have one comment requesting further information about where I live that qualifies as popular demand.

First a map.

Map of my location and particular points of interest – at least for me.

The red marker is where I live. It’s really a great location although not as beautiful as many parts of Bologna. There are bus stops very close by which are extremely convenient. There’s also a terrific supermarket barely more than a block away as well as the “Mercato delle Erbe with fresh veggies, fish, bakeries, butcher shops and all manner of foods including places to eat. My gym is a short bus ride away and I can easily go to the center where I do volunteer work 3 days a week (but only 2 hours and 15 minutes each time. I invite you to looks at a map Bologna via google maps and you’ll note that the center of Bologna is an egg shape – the boundary of the walls that mostly no longer exist. So within this boundary is considered the “center”. It’s a great place to be.

View of the general area with the structures for electricity generation

Approaching my house from the bus stop there are these strange painted structures. They are actually the visible part of apparatus for generating electricity from an underground river that turns turbines. The murals are nice and serve as more than just funky art. There seems to be an unwritten rule that if some surface is decorated then it is forbidden to fill it with graffiti.

the building in the middle is mine – #16

The little piazza with steps leading down. All around where I live it is a pedestrian area and my apartment faces the rear so it’s really quiet.

A partial view of the little piazza and pedestrian street. 

You can note the ever present graffiti. I read recently that the city government has recently declared war on the graffiti writers. I wish them luck but am rather dubious. But if they can cut it down by even half it would be great.

There I am on the “citfono”. Intercom at the entrance.

The “living room” seating.

The living room is also the “dining room” so it can be a little cramped having 3 people for dinner but I’ve done so once and plan to start having 3 guests for dinner on a regular basis.

Entertainment and storage in the living room

When seated in the easy chair this is the view. The cabinets and drawers are convenient storage.

Items brought from “home” in California to “home” in Bologna.

Armoires in hallway

Hallway amoires become a broom closet (rispostiglio) and pantry (dispensa). 

Note the trash cans for recycling. They are much more conscientious about recycling here. There is the indifferenziato (non recyclable stuff), glass and metal, plastic, paper and organic. I’m being a good citizen by recycling all of it.

Bathroom one side.

bathroom – other 1/2

I’ve learned to use the bidet. Heck I figure that if they use these things all over Europe there must be some benefit. They are in every home or hotel room that I’ve ever been in.

master bedroom

Armoires (IKEA of course). Lots of storage capacity.

Chest of drawers in my bedroom

Guest bedroom with “desk”

Well that’s it for now. Next up, the circus. Stay tuned.





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Finally some photos

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

I’m just about done with the bureaucracy and certainly tired of complaining about it. Sooner or later it will all be settled and now I’ve got some photos – yeah!  Mostly this is just random stuff that I hope that you find interesting.

A little well organized street art. It says “point for the collection and distribution of used alibis?

Not everyone is as enamored with Italy as I am. There certainly are economic and government issues which I am largely insulated from.

A typical beach scene. This is Pesaro in the Marche region of Italy. I went there just for an overnight stay. Almost all of the beaches are private. Perhaps you can go to this beach if you stay at the hotel that owns this stretch without paying anything but my guess is that you must pay for a “lentino” (little bed) and an “ombrellone” (beach umbrella). I think it costs about 5 or 6 euros a day.

There’s a park near where I live and I happened to notice the name. It was renamed in honor of the victims of the twin tower attack in New York. Like most of these signs it also recounts the story of this park. The space was originally a convent, then a tobacco factory (if I read it correctly), then a building that was bombed during WWII. There’s a parking garage underneath and when they were excavating it they found an Etruscan burial ground.

Wild blueberries were available until recently. Note that the spoon is a demitasse spoon.

Mmmm, wild blueberries on my cereal in the morning. Now they have disappeared so it’s bananas probably until spring. But who knows maybe in the winter there will be blueberries from Chile like in the U.S.

On my way to the dentist this week I decided to walk and took a route through streets that I’ve never seen. I thought that these two buildings were pretty interesting and work a second look. I’d say it must be rather old. Note the horizontal wood beam above the pillars.

The one next door. A pretty small one. They both look pretty old and in need of a little TLC.

A poster on the window of a book shop “libreria”. Roberto says “Be happy! And if at time happiness forgets you, don’t you forget happiness”. (at least that’s the best translation that I can do).

Ooh, the circus is coming to town! They’ve erected this big tent in Piazza Maggiore. Well, it’s not really THAT big but I can hardly wait. I need to find out details. It opens sometime next week.

Well, that’s all for now. I have some ideas for new posts. Maybe I’ll show some pictures of my apartment and environs if there is interest. Also some comments on my experience with the bank, credit card, Amazon and the utility companies. Any requests?

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Benvenuto in Italia (Welcome to Italy)

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Whenever I have some strangeness, at the bank, regarding utilities or the bureaucracy here my friend Lia says “benvenuto in Italia”. She had warned me about this when I was here last spring and, yes, I knew that since I never had contact with the bureaucracy here and never paid bills that it would be more, well, interesting. I’ve already written about some of my first encounters with the legendary Italian bureaucracy but this week I had two particularly “special” encounters. I must, like anyone that is not a European Union resident, apply for a permesso di soggiorno to stay here more than 3 months. So as I’ve written before I did all the right things to make the request for the permesso and was given an appointment date and time (believe it or not) for last Monday, the 1st of October. So I duly showed up at the immigration office at the appointed time to find a room full of people milling around, no instruction posted on the walls and no actual person to provide information. I looked up the word for “corral” in Italian (it’s “recinto”) just so I could tell Italian friends later that we were like cattle milling around in a corral. Since I had an appointment I was optimistic that someone would probably call my name after a bit and I would be taking care of the business for which I came (foolish me). I did notice that people near one side of the corral would get the attention of some police person (this office is part of the police department) and ask for information so I did the same and was told that I was to wait until someone came out and called my name. So after 45 minutes someone came out and asked about who had appointments. I and a few others raised our hands. She came over, found my name on the list and said, “hmmm, yes, here you are, just wait in the line over there with the others. So I did and after about 15 minutes I was handing over documents and having my thumbs and index fingers fingerprinted. Then I was given a sheet of paper saying to go to a different part of the questura (police headquarters) the next morning for an appointment at 10:20 for further fingerprints.

So the next morning I was sure to be on time because I wanted to get this all out of the way and stop by a store and buy something before going to do some volunteer work at the library. What was I thinking? I was like Charlie Brown and the Italian bureaucracy was Lucy with the football. I found the address and from across the street I saw probably 20 people clustered around the door – uh, oh – here we go again. No information on display, nobody official to ask about what to do. Fortunately I heard a couple of students speaking English, one was from Wisconsin and the other from Russia. They said, when the guy comes out to the doorway to call out a name, give him the piece of paper that you received yesterday or else you could be here for hours. So again, the appointment means exactly nothing. Apparently your place in line is determined by when you hand over your appointment paper. After almost an hour and 20 minutes I decided that I needed to be a little furbo. That’s an Italian word that really doesn’t have an adequate translation into English. Basically it means telling a little white lie or whatever is required to turn a situation around. So, the next time the guy popped his head out I said, “Wait, I have an a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes for my eye and besides I’m a senior and the poster says that seniors have priority.” So he said, “OK, you’re next”. I was done in 5 minutes and made it to my appointment at the library almost on time. When I told this story to some Italian friends they said that I’m definitely becoming more Italian. I’m trying to qualify for my furbizia (perhaps “craftiness” is a good translation) merit badge.

So now the application is in process. All of the paperwork has my residence address, my email address and my phone number. One would think that it would be reasonable for someone to send a message through one of those communication channels to let me know that the permesso was available. Ha, ha,ha. What a foolish thought. I was told that the permesso would be issued sometime within 3 months and I needed to go to a website periodically and check to see if it was ready. Benvenuto in Italia!

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Third week and counting

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

As I wrote in the previous post I was considering joining the SSN (servizio sanitario nationale – Italian health service). Since I’m outside of the european community I have to pay based upon my income. The advantage of that is that it is only based on income and not age as most private insurance is and based upon my research is certainly less expensive. I was pursuing a possibility of a private policy with Marco’s brother but the brother turned out to be quite a flake and never gave me any details about this supposed policy. Time is running short so I went with SSN since I know that will fulfill the health insurance requirement for the permesso di soggiorno. The disadvantage of the SSN is that that one always pays for a “solar” year, i.e. from January 1 to December 31 and it is not prorated. So if I pay now, for instance I pay for a year although the insurance will only be valid for a little over 3 months and that it makes it quite expensive this year but it will cost basically the same next year and will be reasonable.

So I have a piece of paper that shows that I am enrolled in the system. I also have a page attached for my GP (medico di basa) which was selected for me and is quite close to where I live. I hope that he’s good. I asked friends for recommendations, as I would in the U.S., and they all said just get one close to you since they are all good. We’ll see. I plan to go for a visit next week.

The document showing enrollment in the SSN

I also have my new washing machine installed. It’s a nice one since the son of the owner (Lorenzo who lives just upstairs from me) is a sales representative for Whirlpool. The handyman came and installed it last Monday along with another thing that he helped with. Besides the washing machine I didn’t mentioned that the chairs that went with the dining room table were incredibly terrible. They are (well, were) quite uncomfortable and falling apart.

Would you want to sit in this chair? Very uncomfortable.

I knew of a store for used stuff so I went there and found a nice table and 4 chairs and the landlord agreed to pay for them (only 200 euros – cheaper than IKEA) so Monday morning Carlo (the tuttofare “handyman”) met me there with Lorenzo and his little van and moved the chair and table to my house and took the old stuff away.

The new chairs and table. AND the table has leaves, i.e. it’s extendable. One of the chairs is elsewhere.

Things are coming together. There was a microwave on the kitchen counter taking up space better used for food preparation so I found a little stand on Amazon at a reasonable price and bought it. That and a rug to go in the kitchen, a magnetic knife rack and a clock for the living room and I just about have everything organized the way I want it.

The little cart that holds the microwave and a few other items.

The knife rack where the microwave was. A much better arrangement for cooking.

Amazon deliveries are a little more interesting here that they were for me in California. What do you do if you live in an apartment building for an Amazon delivery. Leaving it just outside the door would be insanity because of the likelihood that it would disappear almost immediately. So there have arisen startups here to resolve the problem. There are bars (coffee shops) and tabaccherie (tobacconists) just about everywhere. So these are registered with a startup and for a relatively small fee (3 euros) you can just have a packaged delivered there and they call you to come pick it up. The service is imperfect but seems to work reasonably well and there’s a neighborhood bar very close to where I live.

So life is starting to be more normal. I’ve joined a gym with for an annual membership and started my usual volunteer work at the central library, Biblioteca Salaborsa. And I’ve seen several of my friends; Lia, Liu’, Monica, Marco, Gaudio and Renata, Cesarina and her husband Roberto. I expect to see Paolo, Vincenzo, and Antonella and family before long.

Today I went to a museum of textiles and that will be the subject of another post soon. Stay tuned.


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