Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We Are Ensconced

I am happy to report that our apartment in Bologna is very comfortable and actually looks better than it did on the website because the landlord has purchased new furniture for the bedrooms. The day we arrived from Rome was, like the five days before it, clear, warm and cloudless. The cab driver drove through streets lined with stucco homes and shops, most of them painted in shades of pink and peach. We were a little early to meet our landlord and so we and our bags were deposited beside the gate of our building-to-be. There we waited for a very long ten minutes hoping this wasn’t a question of crossed signals or an out-and-out scam.
We were of course thrilled when our landlord’s son Giuseppe showed up. I had one very tense moment when he explained that our apartment was on the floor below the first floor. Of course in the United States this would mean the basement. I was picturing a dank dark apartment and felt absolutely sick with the realization that I had never, in all my fact-finding, asked what floor the apartment was on. Let this be a lesson to you, dear reader ! When renting, find out what floor your apartment is on! As it turned out, we are on the ground floor, or rather a couple steps up from ground level. I had forgotten that in Europe the first floor is our second floor. What a relief !

Giuseppe was extremely patient and kind, explaining the intricacies of the heating system, the location of kitchen implements, linens, etc. What took the longest to explain was the system of garbage disposal. On virtually every street are a row of large dumpsters to which residents have access anytime they want. The good thing about that is you will never find yourself running after the garbage truck because you forgot it was your Day. The bad thing is that warm weather brings out that very persistent unpleasant odor you experience riding behind a garbage truck. Either we’re getting used to it or the slightly cooler weather makes the smell less of a problem. Bolognese are very serious about recycling and there are various bins for plastics, glass, “unsorted” and “organic.” I’m waiting for Giuseppe to bring us a key for this last one. I guess not just anyone is allowed to toss their chicken bones into the dumpster.

The street is very quiet and seems very settled with families and older people. There is a sizeable market with individual vendors selling cheese, meat and vegetables. The supermarket down the street is open all day—no closing in the middle of the day—but it has a sterile, off-putting atmosphere. There are caffes, newstands, bakeries and a few restaurants--really everything we need. A park has provided Boris with playmates. Boys of all nationalities really need one phrase: “Do you want to play ?” or in this case,“vuoi giocare ?” And those magic words, along with an arsenal of gestures, get him into pick-up games of soccer, il calcio.

A little while ago Boris was very excited to find out that we have an “old-fashioned” stereo. That is to say, it has a cassette player. Just another testament to Italy’s reverence for history.


Eric Riback said...

I'd been wondering if there are any similarities between Bologna and Denver. Indeed, we have dumpsters in the alley behind our house.

Stefania Impasta said...

Yes, if you can imagine Denver with a lot of smoking I suppose you could say there are similarities.

MKR said...

Sounds great! What's a little garbage aroma? You're immersing yourself in the culture, after all!

Your mission: to eat every type of cookie and pastry available in Bologna and report to me in excruciating detail. I await your reports.

Stefania Impasta said...

Today I brought home a torta di riso, sort of a rice pudding. Asher thought it tasted like French Toast. The pastries you would get at the bakery are not especially sweet, but you can of course get gelato and tiramasu and restaurants and stands.