I slept until near 10 am in Lugano, had some breakfast with Lorenzo and started heading towards Italy. Before leaving town though, I thought I should spend some time on the computer writing about the last three days, so I found an Internet cafe and ended up lounging around there until around 3 pm. At 3:45 I finally got out of town, and had a pretty smooth run into Como. To make things more challenging I decided to try to race a guy on a bicycle (travelling with huge saddle bags). I kept getting right up behind him on the uphills, and then he would roll ahead on the downs. I finally got ahead, just moments before our roads divided. Not having had a running companion for the past two months, keeping pace with hippies on bicycles is all I can really do to maintain that feeling. I stopped a few miles short of Como in my last non-Italian town for over a thousand miles or so and tried to spend my last 10 Swiss Francs before I crossed the border. I bought two iced teas, two Lindt Swiss Chocolate bars, and a package of Mentos. Thinking that I should eat a little bit of real Swiss chocolate before I left, I went into a Swiss chocolate store for the bars. Thinking purely numerically, I went with the highest percentage cacao they sold...90 percent. I have now learned that you have to be an idiot to buy a chocolate bar because it has the highest percentage of cacao. That chocolate bar was terrible. The first two squares were a shock, and I forced down the second two. Having a thing about not wasting food, I forced down two more squares before deciding that it would be better to throw the rest of the chocolate away then to vomit it away. I tried to offer it to someone on the street, but for more than one likely reason, they said no.
I got into Como in the early evening, singing "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head" aloud as I walked the last kilometer or so around the lake (Perry Como recorded a version of it that I used to repeat over and over on my record player).
I spent my usual couple hours wandering about the town, making Gaelic knot patterns on the plan of the city...hoping that something would fall in my lap (fortunately, it did). On the way, I was wonderfully surprised to find Terragni's Casa Del Fascio (near a wall on which "DUX" was spray painted). I had studied this building in school, but the fact that it was in Como had completely slipped my mind.
After about my 8th loop around the city, I passed by a pretty busy cafe/bar in the main piazza of town (Caffe Nova Comum) where I heard a man say something along the lines of "Hey runner." I quickly responded, "Yep...runner...that's me," from which came the question "Where did you run from?"...to which came an answer which started a longer conversation. It wasn't long before I was speaking to a group of people outside the cafe, feeling like I had just been sucked into a typical Italian scene from a movie. People coming by on bicycles and stopping in for a word, others leaving on scooters. Pretty women walking by and young guys halting the conversation to call out "ciao bella!" Before I could realize, I had a beer in one hand and a pizza in the other. Everyone in the place was talking to me and helping me out, even to the extent of asking some of the customers if they had a place I could stay. When it started getting late, and things were looking grim, Giorgio (the man in charge) offered to put me up in a hotel, but I told him that I couldn't accept. Soon afterwards, his friend Vittorio invited me to stay at his place. I was incredibly tired by the time we got there, I took a quick shower and fell asleep without bothering so much as to brush my teeth.
24 July 2009