[Note: This entry is about September 11th. I'm back home now. Yay.]
Sweat. Lots of sweat.
That's what Diana and I were covered in (our own respective bodily emissions, that is) after dragging our belongings from the main train station in Bologna to Hotel Panorama, where we would spend one night before meeting up with Morten the following day and moving into a short-term rental apartment. We were supposed to get off at a stop on Via Ugo Bassi, the main road that slices through the middle of the city center, but I assumed that other people from the airport would get off there, thus giving us the cue to exit the bus and until then allowing me to stare blankly out the window.
Of course, they didn't do that. Just about everyone got off at the train station, which is at the northwest corner of the city. The bus driver told me it would take about 10 minutes to walk to our hotel from there, which in Robyn-time translates to 30 minutes while slowly dragging my luggage over cobbly sidewalks and under the neverending arcades, or portici. My luggage came with some kind of "Leg Brusing" function so that because of it short handle the bottom of the luggage kept knocking into my leg, giving me the sensation that I was being followed by a partially blind dog who was adept at keeping my leg in view but couldn't see where "space" ended and "calf muscle" began. Trying to escape the wrath of my luggage as it attempted to roll me over while constantly switching the luggage handle from right to left hand in order to prevent blister formation probably contributed to the extended walking time.
But we made it. OH GOD YES. The hotel took up the 4th floor of the building with its eight rooms and three bathrooms (two small ones and one ginormous one that may have been twice the size of my room last semester). Although I requested a double, we ended up with a triple. Mmm, excessive bed.
After taking showers and cleaning off the layer of filth that had accumulated over the past 12 hours or so of sitting in airports, airplanes and buses in three countries (had a brief stopover in Lisbon), we went to sleep.
Three hours later we begrudgingly realized that we had to go outside and find sustenance. Per Lee Anne's recommendation we ate dinner at La Bella Napoli where pizza is cheap and plentiful. If you go at around 7PM like we did you'll find yourself in a mostly empty restaurant since Italians don't like to eat dinner before 9PM. (At the time we ate dinner you're supposed to be tucking into you aperitivo, or snacky things and drinks.) La Bella Napoli is supposedly super crowded at the time that Italian stomachs do the rumbly "Feed Me" thing, so I think getting there too early was actually a good thing as long as the restaurant didn't think, "DUMB TOURISTS," and spit in our food.
I ate an eggplant pizza—thin, chewy, slightly charred crust topped with strips of creamy eggplant and a little more cheese than I would've liked—while the slightly anti-cheese Diana went for a mountain of mussels in some kind of tomato-based sauce which she later sopped up with bread.
Yeah, that was kind of the crappiest description of food ever, but this happened more than two weeks ago and my taste memory doesn't go very far back.
Unless Diana wanted to be in the presence of a disgruntled Robyn, we couldn't go back to the hotel without gelato. Gelateria Gianni on Via Montgrappa, tucked behind Via Ugo Bassi on the north, was just a short walk from our hotel. I surveyed the long line of metal canisters filled with colorful swirling clouds of gelato, trying not to hyperventilate from happiness before I could place my order, which probably would've scared the women behind the counter.
For 2.50 I got a cup piled high with pistachio, strawberry, and ricordati di me, a combination of pine nuts, coconut, Nocciolatte (something like Nutella) and Nutella. I'm afraid I've already forgotten about the strawberry and ricordati di me (which were both tasty and creamy like all gelato should be, of course) in light of the pistachio, which was packed with a bucket of roasty, buttery pistachios in every bite (A BUCKET!) and had an alarmingly dense, creamy texture, which only added to the sensation that there really was a bucket (A GIANT BUCKET!) of pistachios in every bite. I almost cried from happiness, and then again from suffocating anguish because it didn't seem fair that good pistachio gelato could be so commonplace in Italy and almost nowhere to be seen in NYC. As good as the pistachio gelato was, I wouldn't recommend getting an entire cup of it unless you want your stomach to feel impacted. Buffer the sensation with something else—I like to get a fruity sorbet to counteract the onslaught of dairy to my system. Diana's gelato cup was a similar mixture of dense, creamy pistachio, something fruity and something...else.
Day one in Italy was pretty awesome.