Tuesday, October 27, 2009

September 19, 2009 (Some Italian Adventures)

I landed in Sforzesca in Northern Italy last night. I traveled a whole 24 hours from Catania, Sicily from Thursday night at 7 pm to last night at 7 pm and it was grueling. I took a very dingy, dirty Trenitalia train, where I had to sleep in “sleeper seats,” which are these seats with headrests on both the back and sides. If you looked at some of the seats, they were a whole five shades darker than the others, which really grossed me out, but at the same time I knew I was saving money and I knew that I would be getting to my destination. The train ride would have been really cool if it was during the day, because I traveled by the water and the Amalfi Coast, but I didn't see a thing. I probably passed some great sites in Tuscany too, I’m sure. About an hour into the train ride, I crossed the water from Sicily to the Italian Peninsula by boat. The train actually boards this enormous carrying ship and is then transported to a connecting point on the other side…it’s quite cool. There were some shady looking characters on board and a lot of the people would hang out the dirty, clouded windows to feel the night air and occasionally smoke a cigarette. I felt like I was on one of those Wild West trains.

At one point during the night, I saw a couple of police officers rushing through the train, which immediately registered “banditos!!”to me. I quickly checked for all my luggage and felt for my backpack under the seat that I had clipped to the chair post. That bag had all my valuables in it. My ticket was supposed to be to Bologna, but I figured that I could stay on the train all the way to Milan, which is about an hour north. I was wrong, though. When I arrived in Bologna, I had my stuff all over the little cabin, and I had just gotten up to go to the bathroom. A bunch of people came rushing onto the train, though, and I got trapped at one end. Then it hit me, “oh nuts (to say it lightly), they’re getting on to sit in the seats where my stuff is." I quickly wriggled my way back through them to get to the cabin and was greeted with many confused and slightly perturbed faces. I packed as quickly as I could and then darted for the exit. Dazed, confused, and tired, I sat down to have my morning coffee and then spent the day strolling around Bologna before getting back on the train to Milan. I’m almost glad that I got caught in Bologna, though, because I found the best gelato I’ve ever had at this place called “Pecatti di Golo da Claudio,” off of Independenza. I don't just say best for any gelato, though. Owing to the fact that I'm a fatty and I've spent a total of five weeks in Italy this year (between choir tour and this trip) I’ve eaten a lot of gelato. I've learned that when you’re looking for the good stuff, you should always check to see that the colors are not bright, the gelato is not in pretty waves, and especially make sure that the banana is gray to white and the pistachio a very dull green. It’s also probably good if it says “Artigianale” outside, which means artisanal, I think. I also tried some pumpkin ravioli with butter and sage, and, of course, some tortellini with ragu sauce (a Bolognese native).