Torino Porta Nuova is a pretty easy station to figure out. There’s a metro entrance, a station hall, and the platforms. Trains are sitting in plain view all in a row with this station being the end of every route.
There’s an arrival and departure board around the middle area and it’s pretty clear when your train is leaving and from what platform. I’ve allowed plenty of time to make sure I have room for error but it’s pretty straightforward.
The trains travel very quickly – the speed is up to 300kmh and this actually doesn’t feel as fast as it sounds. You’re travelling smoothly with minimal jolts and that’s all that counts. There’s not a lot to see outside – countryside and the little towns along the way. The toilet is pretty smelly again. Hard to avoid on these trains, I suppose…but I wonder, since the train has been cleaned while we were waiting to board, with no one else using it first. But enough toilet talk! I’m happy enough in my slippery narrow seat, watching Fantastic Beasts, with my bottle of water and bar of chocolate. I’m there in about 2.5 hours.
Bologna Centrale is a confusing station compared to Porta Nuova, with multiple levels, long corridors and more than one exit but I take a chance on the City Centre exit and off I go with my suitcase and Google guiding me.
Bologna looks familiar now, after I leave the station area – with its ruins and marble staircase close by. The rest of the town is a very cheerful blend of yellow, ochre and terracotta colours.
On the evening I arrived, we went to a birthday party for one of the teachers Esmeralda works with. They were sitting at a very long table together with several bottles of prosecco at hand. It was aperitivo hour and at some time a food buffet would appear – one extra euro when you buy the prosecco. But I’m hungry and when I hear one teacher say she’s leaving to get some ‘proper food’ I ask if I can tag along. The teacher, her sister and the sister’s boyfriend and I hurry across the food to a restaurant inside a market but it’s closed for 45 more minutes and we’re all hungry.
As a rule, restaurants are open for lunch from 12-2 or 3 (I’ve seen a couple that open just for one hour at lunch) and then don’t reopen until 730 for dinner, much later than I’m used to. But some are open earlier for tourists or don’t close at all so we find one that will let us in. I order a gnochetti with clams and rapini. It’s not bad – the rapini is cooked far too long, as usual. But it fills a hole. I talk to the teacher who has arrived six weeks earlier from her last job in Dubai. She says her long apartment is 600 Euros a month and that she’s just getting used to the pace of life here – not rushing, just like the Italians. I’m mostly struck by how different her life and her sister’s lives are. They’re from Liverpool and their idea of going out is to cafes and restaurants. After a while, I’m happy to get back to the noisy pub.
My gnochetti wasn’t a large portion so Esmeralda brings me a plate or two of green beans and chick peas, some eggplant and potato. It’s decent, cheap food to serve along with drinks and I’m glad that I had some clams earlier.
We get along well in the flat. There’s plenty of breathing space but no internet! So glad my phone has plenty of data. I enjoy the independent and girly feel in that flat. I think I miss it. It’s been a long time. Wistful.
The next day we go for brunch and I shock myself by having a burger. It’s been ages since I had meat! It’s not bad at all. Then we wander around the various markets – stalls are selling vintage clothes, housewares, clothing of all sorts, antiques, old stuff. I buy three old scarves for a euro. They’ll do for fabric for my next doll when I get around to it.
Later that night we went for dinner. The menus look pretty similar everywhere. I choose a predictable tagliatelle with ragu (or bolognese, as everyone else calls it) and can’t finish it. We are both stuffed to discomfort so collapse at the flat.