Bologna was another hop on hop off city for me. Like Milan, i only spent one night here. Another one strange night. Not like Milan, I had a tour guide here, Fulvio. He was my colleague back in Melbourne. He was also my Italian-practice buddy. We usually greeted each other with this:
Him : Buon Giorno, Maria (Good Morning, Maria)
Me : Buon Giorno. Come sta? (Good Morning, how are you?)
Him : Bene, e tu? (Good, and you?)
Me : Benessimo. Grazie. (Great. Thank you.)
*The End and back to English*
During our one and half year working together, i didn’t pass another level of Italian language. It started like that and ended up like that. I think its because the lack of pressure of using Italian in everyday business conversation in Melbourne. English is always better, if not, easier. Another excuse was “I am perfecting my English.”
We agreed to meet in the train station, but never specified exactly where. As i walked under the tunnel, i spotted him. I said, “I found you!” He replied, “Yes, i saw that your train arrived and decided to wait on the platform instead.” It was so kind of him. He looked the same as three years ago, even slightly younger. We were excited, then greeted each other Italian way. Kiss on each cheek and a big hug.
Two years ago, he was assigned to Bologna for a greenfield project. His mechanical and machinery knowledge along with his Italian language made him a valuable asset for this project. He enjoyed his time in Bologna and its culture. He said, “For now, its better here. It will be boring if i am in Melbourne.”
“Are you up for a walk today?”, he asked. Fully equipped with my walking shoes, i accepted his challenge. From Bologna Centrale Station, we walked straight to Piazza Maggiore. Once we arrived in Via dell’Indipendenza, the street was closed. It was due to the chocolate festival that held once a year in Piazza Maggiore. Apparently it was not because of that, Justin Bieber was in the area. He stayed in Grand Hotel Majestic Gia Baglioni. It created a lot of crowd in front of the hotel. Teenagers was screaming every time the hotel door opened. Honestly, it was quite strange.
Concerned about winter in couple weeks, I asked Fulvio whether i need to buy winter boots or not. I only brought two Sketcher walking shoes. He told me, “It depends. The thing you need to worry is when it is snowing, it gets slippery. So, you need to have shoes with good grip.” We then stopped in front of a store and pointed on several shoes. “This model is good and cheap.” I took note.
If Milan was about strolling around strangers and laughed about full moon, Bologna was about having good food with good friend. And, we did it backwards. We started with dessert, Nutella chocolate crepe. Then followed with fruit tarts, two scoops of gelato, then finally big lunch with red wine at Eataly. I wouldn’t recommend this sequence to anyone. We always say “There is always room for dessert.” That is true. But, there is not always room for main course. I was completely full. Eataly was recommended place to eat. Good food, good portion, with good price. On lunch hour it was packed with locals.
All main attractions in the city were located around Piazza Maggiore, like Basilica di San Petronio, Fontana del Neptune, Palazzo Re Enzo, Two Towers or Le due Torri (Garisenda e degli Asinelli), and my personal favourite, wondering in streets in Quadrilatero to see local products of Bologna, like hand made tortellini and tagliatelle, mortadella (large Italian sausage), Parmigiana-Reggiano (parmesan cheese), and the local veggies. The best part was to see all of this in Christmas decoration. It felt merrier than usual.
After making sure i was well-fed, Fulvio said his goodbye. He need to pack up as he planned to spend his Christmas back in Melbourne with his son. It was only a few hours, but i had fun. When i left Melbourne, i had this sad feeling that i might not meet my dear colleagues anymore, as things are very different right now. Catching up with him was certainly a relief that no matter how life bring you away to faraway places, it always have its own surprise to give you a chance to meet them again. More stories along the way to prove this theory.
I continue my walk to my host’s house in Via Marsala. Her name was Christina. She lived with her daughter and son. From what i gathered, before they lived in Bologna, they traveled a lot. Moved from one place to another. Her children even implied that they didn’t want to move anymore, at least not in near future. Thats why she spoke very good English.
During dinner, i had a chance to talk with them and another guest from Belgium. They asked me, “What are you doing in here? Its so cold here in Europe.” I laughed, tempted to say “Its too hot now in Indonesia.” We always wanted something we do not have. The interesting conversation was not about Indonesia, but more on relationship.
Her daughter was seeing a boy. He was born in Italy, but his parents was originally from China. They asked me a bit about Chinese culture, something that they didn’t understand. I explained to them that typically Chinese parents do not as expressive as Westerner, as the result the children also not really expressive. The way they expressed their love to their children was not by saying “I love you”, but asking, “Have you eaten yet?” This video might explain it very well.
Another thing that very different was about academic achievement. It is very important to excel at school. I still remember how my mom react with my GPA when i was at Uni. She finally left me alone when she met her friend whom his son changed his major due academic pressure.
After this topic, Christina shared a bit about her love stories. How men gave her things to prove their love to her. Start from sketches, writings, or even paintings. She was actually annoyed by it. We were surprised. Why? It should be a sweet experience. Then she said, “They send me 2-meters paintings and tens pages of letter.” We were laughing. I was thinking like 1-2 pages letter or moderate size of paintings. She continued, “I still keep the ones i love the most. One of them is that.” She appointed one contemporary painting in the living room.
What i love the most in her stories was her expression. Her eyes. They showed us that those past experiences were both sad or happy, but certainly beautiful. She kept saying, “Well, all of you are young.” It was not like she tried to say that we were naive, but more like cherish your time while you are young. When i saw her, i said to myself. When i am her age one day, i want to have that expression when i share my story to my children. A beautiful mixed of laugh, sorrow, gratefulness, and certainly with no regret.
Bologna, a quick stop, but not short of stories. Next stop will be La Spezia. See you next week. Always be amazing, guys!