The last few days were spent walking around Luino. This place is exactly what I would imagine a small Italian town to be; scooters everywhere, narrow streets, bakeries and pizzarias. It’s certainly not a town you would find anywhere in America. I didn’t take many pictures. Instead I focused more on simply soaking in the small-town Italian atmosphere. Since Davide allowed me to use his apartment to come and go as I pleased, I left all my belongings there and was able to explore without the burden of my backpack. Only later would I realize how reliant I became on having that place to stay.
When Davide got home from work around 6 PM each night, I was able to get a better idea of what it was like to be an Italian in a small Italian town. The night of the 16th we decided to go out for pizza, but he said we couldn’t go have pizza until we had ‘aperitivo’ first. I had no idea what this was but wasn’t about to disagree. I would later learned that aperitivo is one of my favorite things about Italy. Imagine happy hour only after ordering your drinks, you’re served appetizer after appetizer in unlimited quantities. This was awesome! And this was only in preparation for dinner? I could get used to this. We hit the streets and stopped at a local bar.
After aperitivo, we continued down to a little pizza shop. Davide said we should eat here he thought the waitress was cute. Fine by me. We sat down and ordered from the menu that was covered in dozens and dozens of pizzas. I ordered water, but they had to clarify what type of water I wanted. In Italy, they have two words for water when you order at the restaurant, one that translates to natural water and one that translates to sparkling water. Sparkling water it is I guess, why not? I found out this is very common in all restaurants here.
On the 17th, I walked around some more, taking even fewer pictures. Davide got home from work around 6 PM again, but this time we had other plans. Tonight he had band practice so we had to take a train ride down to Milan. He said he wasn’t a big fan of leaving early so we ended up half walking, half running to the train station. We got there with just enough time to buy a train ticket and walk out to the train platform where we found an enormous hole in a construction zone. Our train was just about to leave and this construction separating us from the platform we needed to be on so we ran back through train station and out onto the next platform to find our train had left. That’s when the fight happened.
Not a fight between Davide and me but between him and a few train station attendants. I have a very clear picture in my head when I think of what it would look like two Italian men fighting; yelling, arms flailing all about, each one getting louder and louder than the first, saying more with their hands that with their words. This fight was exactly that. There were no punches thrown but there were more hand gestures used than I’d ever seen before. It lasted at least 10 minutes and the only thing I could do was stand there and watch; I had no idea what they were yelling about. Eventually the train station attendant left, and we began walking back to the street. I asked him what all that was about and he said we’d need to catch the next train. By then, I had figured that much out on my own.
The next train was only 50 minutes away so we walked to a bar around the corner and waited. Aperitivo!
The train ride into Milan was less than an hour, but it gave me enough time to surf the web looking for my next destination and it gave Davide some time to let play a little bass guitar. Two of his bandmates picked us up at the train station and we drove across town to the jam space. It was in the guitarists basement and seeing the instruments immediately took me back to all the times I’ve jammed with all my friends in all the cities I’ve lived in. And I couldn’t have been happier. I sat watching the band and surfing the web to find a ride to Verona. Towards the end of the jam session, I had found a ride.
After band practice, Davide and I got a ride home with the singer back to his mother’s house. Our plan was to stay the night there and catch a ride to the train station from his brother in the morning. We stayed in his old bedroom on the second floor. It imagine his room hasn’t changed since he was a young kid; there were toys in display cases, posters on the wall, and things to tinkered with scattered all over the floor. He even had a little single string bass that he created when he was younger that I played around with for a bit.
In the morning, I met Davide’s brother, a kid who had a knack for electronics. I got a kick out of his workbench and asked if I could take a picture. He also showed me a little robot he built that was controlled over Wi-Fi with an arm and a camera on the back. At some point I mentioned to Davide that I wished I would’ve brought a pair of jeans on the trip. He asked his brother and they found a pair jeans they said I could have. The design was quite unique; they looked like a pair of jeans I would’ve had when I was younger, but I was happy to have jeans regardless of what they looked like. You’ll start to see what I mean in later pictures. Davide’s brother gave us a ride to the train station. We said a quick goodbye and like that I was on my own again.
It became immediately apparent as soon as Davide left how reliant I was on having a local host to help me out. Once again I felt like a stranger in a strange land. I had no one to help me out, no one to speak the local language, no one who had any previous experience to follow. It was just me again.
I bought my ticket and while waiting for the train, I walked across the street to an international store and bought a bag of peanuts. I got onto the train and headed for downtown Milan.
While on the train I started wondering to myself, why am I really doing this? If I don’t know why, how do I know I’m finding what I’m looking for? What will I have gained by taking this trip? The only thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want it to stop.