Italy got beautiful. Not that it always wasn't...but today I escaped the busy chaos of the Via Emila and headed into the mountains towards Monghidoro, one of two stops on the way to Firenze.
I woke up around 8:30 and had some breakfast with Lorenzo. We said goodbye around 9:30 and I started wandering around Bologna to get some things done before leaving town. I needed to find an Internet point before leaving town, and I needed to buy a light pair of flip flops...I was three days behind on my posts, and my feet really needed to start seeing the light of day.
I stumbled upon a huge street market and started circulating the booths of cheap curtains, fake purses and foreign craft products looking for an inexpensive sandal solution. With the heat, my feet really can't be inside of a shoe all day. The cream I bought in Milano isn't really going to make things better unless I can let my feet breath...I've got a bunch of spots on the top of my foot, and two of my toes are starting to look like they belong to a rotting corpse. I'm not really that concerned though...I've had worse...wearing leather cowboy boots all summer while working in hot northern California will really mess up your feet.
I walked through the market, picking up various sandals to see how light they were. I found a pair for two Euros that were a bit heavy, but seemed like the best thing I could find. I went into a nearby sports store and briefly contemplated buying a 20 euro pair of very light women's sandals...but went out and bought the pair for two. I tore off the packaging and threw it away, and two minutes later found a lighter and cheaper pair in a 99 cent store. I hate to add anything else to my backpack, and these seemed like the lightest solution, so I bought them ("Quicksyver" brand) and returned the previous ones (without packaging) to the bin in the market without asking for my money back. From there, I went to an Internet cafe and spent a pretty long time working on a computer. I didn't get out of Bologna until around 3 pm.
I had a stomach ache and my clothes were not yet dry, so I walked for the first 8 k or so until I found a found a good bathroom and a pretty place to start running. The run was completely uphill, along a river in some beautiful mountains...but still on a hard surface two lane highway. After about 20 km, I started feeling pretty thirsty and contemplated how much it would suck to not find any water until Monghidoro...immediately I looked up and found a pipe of clean water flowing out of the mountain...some sort of divine intervention which kept me going to Monghidoro. For the last 9 km I broke away from the river and headed up a serious hill to Monghidoro. After having already done about 30 km of uphill, the grade basically tripled, and I really struggled to maintain a continuous run into town.
I got into town around 7, and was pretty satisfied to see that while the town was small, the streets were bustling with people setting up for a Friday night market. I went to a grocery store and bought a Gatorade and the typical three box pack of warm Nesquick and drank everything pretty quickly. I felt thirsty again soon afterwards, and (feeling like I needed some fruit) bought some sort of large fruit drink. I stumbled out of town and sat down on a hill to let my stomach settle...mixing all of those drinks didn't seem like a good idea any more.
Once my stomach settled, I went back into town in search of a bathroom, and went into the bar on the edge of town. After using the bathroom, I felt much better...and feeling thirsty again and obligated to buy something, I bought a cold bottle of Heineken. Despite how much I had already drank, I was still tired and thirsty from the run, and it was one of the best beers I have ever had.
The television in the bar was playing an awards ceremony for the swimming championships in Rome...the US team had won, and the Star Spangled Banner was playing. After the program was finished, the man behind the bar started whistling the tune, and I started conversation by saying "Sono Americano." Immediately the man dropped what he was doing and came over to talk to me about where I was from and what I was doing in Monghidoro. Tommy loves America. He has travelled there on 7 occasions and has seen about as much of the United States as I have. After talking for a bit, Tommy took a few minutes off of work to drive me to his house, where I took a shower and his wife made me some pasta for dinner. We returned to the bar, where he introduced me to his friend Claudio, who loves New York City and who also offered me a place to stay for the night. I spent the rest of the night drinking and speaking in Italian about how great the United States and NYC are. These guys knew so many places and facts about New York that most New Yorkers don't know, and I was pretty amazed by how much they knew about the country in general.
I went to bed around 1 am in Claudio's unfinished spare apartment (to which he had lent me the key). I had many fond memories of home running through my head, but I was simultaneously incredibly satisfied with where I was.
02 August 2009