The same researcher/translator who helped me out with my residence permit, along with numerous other things, helped me again tonight. It’s hard to refer to her without a name, but as a matter of internet etiquette, I won’t use her name without her knowing. She will be known here as M1951.
M1951 and I went to the train station tonight, to find what we could. We found the spot where I had locked it, right next to three taxis. M1951 talked to the taxi drivers, who knew everything. They had noticed my bike there for two days and thought it was odd that someone would leave such a nice bike at the train station for so long. On the second night, a short black kid was able to easily open the lock and pedal away with it. Of course, they noted the peculiarity of a short kid riding a big bike. (I’m every bit of 6’3″.)
With that, M1951 and I went to the Questura – the main provincial police station – and filed a report.
Somebody or another I work with may have a used bike I could buy for hopefully cheap. Getting something that looks like crap and runs well would be ideal, so I can actually use it without fear of it being stolen. Additionally, the combination of looking like crap and running well would be the exact opposite of what my last bike did. It couldn’t handle a couple of spills. I hope that parasite likes what he got.
If I get another bike, used or new, while I am here, I am going to use the thickest gauge, biggest, meanest combination lock you ever saw.
Now for a brief musical interlude.
I spent this last weekend in the suburbs of the city of Reggio Emilia, spending time with my boss’s in-laws and seeing the sights. I admit, it felt a little weird taking up an invite such as that, but maybe that is just the culture here. It seems to beat America’s culture in this regard. In any case, everyone was pleasant, and the cooking was incredible. One of the gatherings occurred at a family grape farm.
As you can see, the area around Reggio Emilia is flat, in stark contrast to Savona. The whole area is agricultural. The street-fair I encountered here had a large wing of people show-casing the latest and greatest in farm equipment. Of course, the rest of the street-fair was much like any that I had seen in Savona. I had some excellent honey-roasted almonds and saw a display of classic scooters.
Later that day, I found further proof that Italian punks are poseurs after American culture.
I moved in to university housing yesterday. I won’t have views like this anymore:
In its place, I get this:
I haven’t actually figured the windows out, yet. There are some huge, angled, shutter-like things outside of them, so I can’t really look outside. I’ll figure those things out sooner or later. There really isn’t too much to look at, though.
My room is definitely a dorm room. After I get through a locked door, there are two bedrooms, each with two beds; a kitchen/living room; and a bathroom. Before I moved in, there was only one occupant, a Ghanaian who is studying to be a nurse. It’s obvious he’s been in the room for a while. I took the other bedroom and moved all my stuff in yesterday, with the help of a few coworkers.
Also accomplished yesterday:
I’ve been hoping to make a post on Italian vehicles at some point. Today, a bunch of cars were on show on a pedestrians-only street. So, here’s about sixty-five pictures. You’re welcome.
If you’re not bored enough for this, the main gist is this: hatchbacks and station-wagons rein supreme, SUVs are here and there, and sedans are rare. A lot of roads are narrow, with corners and curves and things, which definitely favors hatchbacks.
But Italian croissants can do a lot of the same things.
I actually found something doughnut-shaped in a sweet-shop a couple weeks ago. I was displeased to find it was but a thin bread shell surrounding over-sweet cream. I’m happy with croissants.
I think I’ve found a great way to both cut down on the dis-jointedness of these posts and the amount of time it takes to make them. One-subject posts, created the instant I get an idea. And, go.
My first self-made meal while in Italy. It’s pretty fantastic. It may look like a simple sandwich, but hidden between those unassuming slices of wheat bread are things unbeknownst to me before my intercontinental trek. Bresaola, for instance, is a blend of meat that I don’t really know what to make of, besides it being red and delicious. Salame Milano, one of many varieties of salami, each of which seems to be named after a different Italian city, is not as strongly-flavored as what I am used to, which I appreciate in a salame. Two different kinds of ham reside between those bread slices as well, prosciutto cotto, which seems like your garden variety ham, and prosciutto di Parma, which does not. It is a variety of prosciutto crudo – raw ham — and I’ve had enough of it to take a liking to it as well. And yes, Italians really eat raw ham. Supposedly, it’s cut off the pig, and aged for up to two years. In fact, I think the larger variety of sandwich meats I have found here result form varying forms of long-term curing of meats. Italians: wine and meats, both more art than science.
With meat so good, there’s got to be a catch, right? Well, there is. The packages they come in are not re-sealable, which caught me a bit off guard. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up some re-sealable bags tomorrow.
In the meantime, if there is one thing I don’t like about this Seminary, it’s the fact that the wifi has been on the fritz for the last three weeks (not like it had enough reach to get to my room anyway). So, people have been taking turns using the LAN in the office. Which is a great excuse for my normal routine of making all these posts at stupid-late times of night. I’m sitting in here with two other guys right now, trying to finish that which began in Word. I’m going to have to pick up an Ethernet cord tomorrow, so that nobody has to give up their connection for me to get one. I guess I should be thankful for this reminder of how much most everybody depends on the internet these days
Oh hey, first relatively heavy rain I’ve experienced here since before my father went back to the States. Hooray.
Each of the last few posts have taken way too long to make, which borders on not fun. So, I’m probably just going to throw some pictures at you and call it a night. After all, I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing this for me. All me.
I successfully opened a bank account last Wednesday, once again employing the aid of a fellow researcher who knows two languages. Boy, I’m sure glad I didn’t bother to learn any Italian, really, ever. Now that I’ve been here a month and a half, I’ve learned a few Italian words from being around Italians, like the word for bag, sacchetto, and this, questo. Yay, me. Hopefully, a certain shipment of Rosetta Stone will soon be found very useful.
Here’s that archetypical Savona church I’ve been holding back from you:
Here’s another one, no kidding, one block away:
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This weekend, in the same older section of town where the street fair was, there was a fashion show, or dance-off, or something.
I may never know, but there was definitely a red carpet.
Also, in the top-left, the outside of one of Savona’s more archetypical big-ass churches. So that’s done, at least until the next time I am out that way and think about it. This church is basically in an alley. In fact, that’s the case with a few big-ass churches in town. My best guess is that there was plenty of space from which to gaze upon its magnificence when they built it four-hundred years ago, but somewhere along the line, other people decided adjacent land was just too valuable.
Also there, at least briefly, was this piece of history:
And while on the topic of autos, proof Ford hates America:
Dear dia…erm, no, uh, what?
Last Friday, I applied for my residence permit, which one would imagine the visa process would have sufficed for, but whatever. Basically, a guy copied information out of my passport and visa and took down the names of my mother and father. Then, he got my fingerprints with some electronic fingerprint scanner. Then I went upstairs, where another man got scans of my fingerprints, again, along with scans of my palms. And that was it. Without a fellow researcher who had volunteered to essentially be a translator, I would have been royally screwed, though, as the waiting process was actually complicated.
This comes after giving a detailed form to people in a more central office, in Genoa, where I was issued an appointment here in Savona. According to my researcher/translator, coming to America for a long period, this is all done right off the plane.
This may be complicated and annoying for another reason than pure bureaucratic zest. A lot of these hoops were supposedly made with the purpose of making it harder for illegal immigrants to stay here. As with America, these immigrants come from the south. In the waiting area, there was a large minority of Africans.
With as much strife as there is in Africa, I don’t particularly blame them. At the same time, there are a whole lot more people out there living in hellholes than the entire population of the somewhat-free world (scratch-paper calculations there). So too bad.
I’m still in the hostel, even though classes started last Wednesday, because University housing is apparently completely unplanned. Freshmen show up and start living in the dorms, and then they see how much room they have left for everybody else. Which is funny because the guy who invited me here did a lot of work to get me housing for cheap.
Edited to Add: I just talked to an actual Italian in the same program as me in the University, who is also living in the seminary. He was told he could move in on October 15th. (I think he said ‘fifteenth,’ may have been ‘fifth,’ but that is probably wishful thinking on my part.) This hosteling thing is going to cost me through the nose. Jesus.
Which will hopefully work out at some point, considering I won’t see a pay check for a while. I need to have an Italian bank account to do that. I need a residence permit to get an Italian bank account. I may not have a residence permit for up to two months. I need one for money-man to even start the paperwork. Bitter? No. I’ll just keep paying for everything with cash I pull out of the odd ATM that can take American cards.
Not very fun to read? Have another church.
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.