Savona at a Glance and Other StoriesPosted: Friday, September 9, 2011
Savona is a smaller city, with a population of about 60,000, an hour west of Genoa by train. It is on the Mediterranean coast of Northern Italy. Here’s a map.
So yeah, I can walk to the beach. There are a few hotels right there. I’m not sure if it’s really much of a tourist destination. It’s small enough so Americans don’t know about it unless they really know Italy. You can probably vouch for this yourself.
It has a rich history, that I don’t really know much about. It’s been around forever. And a half. There’s a fortress.
You can walk right in at any hour of day or night. A large part of the structure appears to be being used for office space now. Really. Those windows have modern glass. There is a nice restaurant behind the wall on the right side of the frame. There is also graffiti. A lot of it. There and throughout the city. It’s kind of ridiculous.
Also, the same guy who commissioned the Sistine Chapel in Rome commissioned this little beauty right here in Savona.
There are big churches everywhere here. I think about 90% of the population is Catholic. And the rest are atheists. Seriously.
Anyway, Savona is really a beautiful place. I will try and get out there and take some serious pictures for the blog once there isn’t much new to talk about. And that will happen sooner or later.
My father and I arrived here on September 2nd. My father came for the first week as a short vacation, to make sure everything that needed to get done got done, and to actually meet the guy who invited me out here for the first time. He and I had a great time, and he is flying out early this morning.
The first three days we stayed in a nice hotel. Everything was what you would expect for a nice hotel. The room was excellent. The receptionists spoke English well. The internet was expensive. The same could be said of any nice hotel around the world.
After that, we stayed in a hostel. Which is a seminary. Or was a seminary. Or something. The place is huge.
There aren’t huge crowds of men clamoring for priesthood these days. The entryway has a sign announcing the upcoming ordination of two new priests this October. This place could house several dozen priests-to-be. Without casing the place, my guess is at least fifty, maybe as much as a hundred. So the diocese opened the remaining rooms to be used as a hostel. It’s a pretty sweet deal. For twenty euros per day, I get this.
There is no air conditioning, but if you aren’t around in the middle of the day, you won’t miss it. The windows open, but there are no screens. There really don’t seem to be many insects around to get in, but leaving the windows open allowed a couple of bats to get into my father’s room a couple nights ago.
This hostel is set up like a nice dormitory. I have a room with a bed. There is another room with a bed attached to the first, and then there is a bathroom. The bathroom has a sink, a bidet, a toilet, and a shower.
My father, step-mother, and sister are planning to come up for a week or so during Christmas break. After seeing how nice the hostel is, my father is actually planning to have us all stay here during that time.
I will be staying here until the university opens in a couple weeks.
Right now, my experience with Savona as a whole has been very good. The food is delicious. The air is warm but not hot. There are no chain restaurants. Seriously, not a single McDonald’s in the whole town, as far as I can tell. There’s just one big problem.
Few of the people speak much English. ‘Well, yeah,’ you might say. In my defense, I heard it from several sources that most Italians speak English, but they really appreciate it if you try to speak Italian. That may be true for tourist destinations that see a lot of British and Americans, but it certainly isn’t for Savona. Getting through one restaurant essentially guessing what to get off of the menu from the little Spanish I remember from high school led to me eating octopus for the first time. It wasn’t bad, if you are wondering, probably because it was not raw. Also, getting a cell phone when the person you are talking to doesn’t know what the word ‘purchase’ means isn’t easy.
So I will be starting Italian classes next week. Luckily, all my other classes here are taught in English. I’m actually taking some graduate courses, because the particular program that they would count toward here is designed around foreign students.
All of the researchers I have met here thus far speak English pretty well, mainly because they want their work to see a wide audience. So I may be doing some proofreading. But at least I will be able to work with them.
I know this post is disjointed. It’s a lot of topics, many of which will be covered in more detail later.