Can you even get there from here?

The poet, photo by Cristiana Sibenik

It’s been a busy week or so! I finally have my Carta d’Identita. It took a bit of running in circles and €5.20, but I now have all the identification documents I need to get by here. Now that I’ve got the ID card, I can go and register the dog with the city as well, though that may need to wait until I return from Greece.

Ithaka may be a severe case of “can’t get there from here.” Reports are conflicting and I may well need to take a bus (or cab) to Kyllini. I went to the Greek Consulate, where the ticket office is for Minoan Lines, and talked to the woman at the desk. She said there’s nothing on any of the websites they use though, sometimes, small local ferries are not listed. One website says that trips to Ithaka from Patras are all suspended. I won’t be able to find out until I actually get to Patras. The potential for missed connections and screw-ups is fairly large, but I’ll do my best. I may end up only spending one night on Ithaka if I have to go to Kyllini and deal with ferries that don’t run daily.

The dock for the Trieste to Patras ferry is down in the commercial port, south of the city’s main waterfront. My brother will take me there on the day I leave, to avoid having to worry about nonexistent buses and finding a taxi at that hour.

I spent some time walking around new parts of the city with Cristina, an artist and photographer I met at Luisella’s last week. Our first stop was a bar and gelateria on the waterfront near the aquarium. They have a nice little deck out in the back overlooking the harbor and the marina. I tried the watermelon but it was just too thin and too sweet to be really enjoyable. She did warn me that it was going to be very sweet, but I wanted to try it. I saw a new species of jellyfish at Molo Audace on our way over, too. This makes three so far.

Chrysaora hysoscella

Chrysaora hysoscella

From there, we took a long walk south along the waterfront, past the railroad museum, and then over the park along Viale Romolo Gessi until we got to the Unione Sportiva Triestina Nuoto, an Olympic sized swimming pool near the place where I’ll have to go in to the ferry docks. There’s a hideously ugly sculpture of a hippo standing on a ball out front of the building. The building itself is right up there with the Experience Music Project in Seattle for architectural WTFery. From there, we walked along the main road and until we passed the gate for the commercial shipyard, then up the hill via Scala Campi Elisi and past the Madonna del Mare church in the neighborhood where Cristina grew up.

We stopped for a rest and something to drink, then continued back toward downtown, passing the Osservatorio Astronomico, mentioned in my last post. I got some photos this time, and it’s quite the interesting building.

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University of Trieste’s Astronomical Observatory

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The observatory tower

On our way back down into the waterfront area, we stopped by the Casa della Musica, a funky blue building in a pedestrian alley not far from the Arco Riccardo. One of Cristina’s friends was there and invited us to go upstairs and watch a rehearsal if we wanted. We did, but only for a few moments, as it was packed, and really hot. There’s a bar on the ground floor with a bulletin board, posted with instruments for sale, musicians and bands looking for one another, and upcoming gigs. On the first floor there’s a rehearsal and performance hall, and there are practice studios for rent as well. The second floor houses a recording studio.

Casa della Musica

Casa della Musica

The evening brought us back to the canal for a spritz and a snack, and a little talk about cameras and photography. We sat on the dock, but my chair was a bit too close to the edge and one leg of it slipped off. Fortunately, there’s good rope netting around the dock, and Cristiana grabbed my arm, so I didn’t take an unintentional swim.

boats and the dome of San Spiridone, the Serbian Orthodox church

boats and the dome of San Spiridione, the Serbian Orthodox church

Eventually, we made our way back to my place then took the Dog of Devastating Cuteness +3 out for a ride and a little walk in Piazza Hortis. He likes going out, of course, and loves riding in cars, but he does get overly excitable around other animals, so it can be difficult to take him very far from home.

My brother was in town for the last couple of days. We watched the US-Portugal football match at midnight, projected onto an outside wall at a bar in one of the pedestrian zones just off Piazza Unità. A fair sized crowd had gathered, including quite a few Americans. Four were seated at a table just behind us, who had come into town for the Pearl Jam concert that had happened a night or so before. They were in from DC and New York City, and would be on their way to Venice on the train the next day. I’m not much of a sports fan, but it was fun to go watch something big like that al fresco on a gorgeous evening, with a spritz in hand. There’s an Italy match today, which likely means everyone will be glued to their TV for a couple of hours between 5 and 7pm. I’m sure I’ll know it if Italy wins.

Here's the park. Down on the lower right is the bus stop we needed. The lower left was the one we ended up at. Yay, confusion.

Here’s the park. Down on the lower right is the bus stop we needed (11/25). The center left was the one we ended up at (25/26). Yay, confusion.

Last night, we went up to the Parco Farnetto for the Triskell Celtic festival. The posters don’t make it very clear where the place is, and actually finding out how to get there was problematic. The poster talks about a place called Boschetto del Ferdinandeo, and there’s some information about buses, but unless you know that this is a stop in the Farnetto, you’re going to be utterly lost. You can’t find it on Googlemaps by that name. The website says that buses 11, 25, and 26 go there, but really only the 11 and 25 stop at the site. If you take the 26, you end up having to walk most of the length of the park – about one and half kilometers – to get to it; it’s a lovely walk, but not what we were looking for. On the other hand, the festival schedule 26/ (yes, the / makes a difference) does run from that stop down into downtown, but it only runs on Sundays and holidays. Most of the buses stop about 8pm, but that one runs until midnight.

The Bog Bards, a band from Slovenia

The Bog Bards, a band from Slovenia

We headed up during the middle of the day, as the schedules talk about things happening starting about 3pm, but the place really didn’t open until 7pm, and music doesn’t start until 8 or so. We headed back up about 8:30, checked out the booths, had some food, and listened to some music. I met some of the local Pagans there, who were doing a labyrinth walk and holding sacred space for a fire and some ritual work. One of the women speaks English, and we had a talk, though I did speak a little in Italian to a couple of the others. My brother helped translate for some of the conversations. I’ll be going up again this evening around 8:30 to talk with her again, and to show her a few of my books.

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ritual fire at the Triskell festival

Jim will be back later this week to watch the dog while I head off to Torino to see Dan give his talk about his new book, and then head off to Greece. I may not have much in the way of internet access while I’m gone, but when I return, there will be photos!

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fiddler for the Bog Bards

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Irish dance group on stage with the Bog Bards

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Catching up, and my Permesso di Soggiorno

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. My dog lies on a quilt, on the floor in the library, as I still don’t have furniture yet. Next month there will be a loveseat and a couple of chairs for him to choose from when the afternoon sun creeps across the floor but for now, he is enjoying the open space.

My visit to Seattle was short and filled with an overwhelming amount of stuff and many wonderful people. I’m glad I got to see those I did, and sad that I missed others who, for various reasons, weren’t able to be in the same place I was at the same time. To all of those I visited, I am honored by your presence.

I have a string of photos from before and after my Seattle trip, from Duino to the Bavisela. We’ve had some lovely weather here in Trieste in the past week since I’ve been back, and I was able to see the mountains across the water for the first time since I arrived, which was a joyful moment. Duino definitely left me with a sense of why Rilke wrote the Elegies.

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Performers at Piazza Unità

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Duino – the old castle

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The poet contemplating Rilke at Duino

While I was in Seattle, I got notice that my Permesso di Soggiorno arrived. I went in with my brother to pick it up on Wednesday. His is a large sheet of paper, while mine is a plastic card with a chip, like a credit card. It’ll be much easier to carry without worrying about damaging it. My brother only stayed a couple of hours, as he had things to do in Aviano the next day. If the Anagrafe office had been open, we’d have gone in to register my residence with the city together, but this was not to be. I had to go in yesterday alone. Once again, a combination of English and Italian got me through the process.

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Duino castle from near the WW2 bunker

Sometime during the next two weeks, the police will come by my apartment to make sure I actually live here. I have to be at home in the mornings between 7am and noon. She asked what hours I preferred; I wasn’t sure if I could ask for later in the morning, but I suspect that the more time they have, the more likely they are to just get it over with. Once they visit, that will be the end of this particular part of the process. A month from now I’ll have my Carta d’Identita. My Permesso expires near the end of December of this year, so around October, I’ll need to start the process again but, with luck, next year’s will be valid for two years and I won’t have to worry about it so much.

The woman at the Anagrafe office told me to go to have the garbage tax for the apartment shifted over to my name, but we did that with the landlady back in February when I signed the rental contract. I was also instructed where to go to sign up for Italian national health care. I wasn’t told how to do it or how it works, but I did look up the website and click over to the page for foreigners, and it looks doable, though for that I’ll want my brother along to make sure things are clear for me. I’m going to need to find a woman OB/GYN at some point, along with a general practitioner, but I can probably talk to my regular doc about that when I see that person the first time. Issues for Women Of A Certain Age are arising and I need a consult with somebody.

Over the weekend, as noted above, we had the Bavisela. This is Trieste’s marathon, and it’s also a shorter walk/jog for people who don’t do marathons, starting from Duino and ending up at Piazza Unità. Saturday night I went walking out along the waterfront to see what was happening. They’d set up booths for the usual fair type stuff, and a ferris wheel. There was also a stage near Molo Audace and I happened along about the time a band was taking the stage for the evening. They were young guys in suits and narrow ties, kind of rocking an 80s look. They’d have seemed at home doing some Cars or Talking Heads, but they were playing stuff from Buddy Holly to the Rolling Stones, with a diversion for the Happy Days theme. They were enthusiastic, though the vocals needed some work, but they had the crowd up and dancing, and I had fun just hanging out watching the show. Every time I considered taking a ride on the wheel, both Saturday night and on Sunday, the line was too long for me to bother. It would have been a nice view of the city, though.

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Mountains over the Adriatic

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Bavisela crowds in Piazza della Libertà

Sunday morning, I didn’t go to bed until about 5am, but the people in the B&B upstairs were up about 5:30 thumping and bouncing so hard they were literally rattling my doors down here. Most of the time, the B&B guests are reasonably quiet. Occasionally I get thumpy ones, but these were tapdancing elephants. It was egregious and lasted for a couple of hours. I finally gave up around 7:30 and got up, showered, and staggered out to greet the day.

There were already crowds out in the piazza below my window, heading out of the city on buses for the starting points. I got out with the dog briefly but then took him inside so I could go for a walk. He’s not a city dog as yet, and it was a little overwhelming for him with the huge crowd. When I got out alone, I headed toward the center of town, feeling like a salmon swimming against the stream among all the orange-clad participants. I was the only person heading in that direction. The main street into town, Via Miramare, was closed, as was the waterfront main drag, the Riva III Novembre/Riva del Mandracchio/Riva Nazario Sauro. I may never see these main streets that quiet again until next year’s marathon.

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Everybody and their dog at the Bavisela

The weather today is really lovely, sunny and warm, and soon I’m going to finish my tea and wander out to sit on the pier and scribble in my notebook. Tomorrow I will probably hang out online with friends and watch the Eurovision finals. About Eurovision this year, I have only one thing to say: erotic butter churning.

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Detail from Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi

Compleanno in Italia

You may notice that the header on my blog has changed. The old photo was a street in the small mountain town of Poffabro, in the Dolomite mountains. It was beautiful, but it was from my visit in 2012, and it reflects the more rural beginning of my journey here. The new header, I think, is more appropriate to the current themes of my life – living in the city of Trieste, being once again in a city, and entering a new phase of my life.

Also, the Free Territory of Trieste feels kind of like being in a pirate movie, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be in a pirate movie?

My birthday was this past week. The bora blew through town that day, rattling windows, blowing every hidden bit of trash out of its concealing crevice, and staggering the pedestrians as we went about our business. My own windows didn’t rattle at all, due to the lovely double-paned outside windows that are relatively new to the building. It was silence itself inside.

My brother was in town overnight for my birthday. We went over to the Questura to see if they had the papers that had been sent from Pordenone, but the office was already closed for the day by the time he’d arrived and we got over there. We got the hours, though, and also found the office of the Comune di Trieste, where I’ll need to register my residence and get my Carta d’Identita.

For dinner, we went to the Arcoriccardo restaurant, which I linked to in my last post. It was a quiet evening there, and the food was really good. It was, as anticipated, on the expensive side but not over the top. I thought it was worth it for what we got and would certainly go back for a special occasion again. Service was very good, as well.

The next morning, we went to the Questura, where we were told that the papers had not yet arrived from Pordenone. They made sure they had my proper phone number and said someone would call when they were ready for me to come in. After that we walked to the office where I had to register my residence. I wasn’t able to do so, but the question about why Montereale hadn’t given me my Carta d’Identita was resolved. Apparently, the first time you apply for your Permesso di Soggiorno, they won’t register your residence or give you your card until you actually have the Permesso. After that, if you are renewing your Permesso, they don’t worry about that and all you need is the receipt from the post office. So, weirdness resolved, but I’m still a bit in limbo. Regardless, I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me so far, and things appear to be legal and going all right. It does seem there may be a bit more of a delay, though, given the move and the transfer of the papers.

About ten minutes after my brother left to go home, the Questura called. They want me to come in Tuesday morning to get fingerprinted. Again. I don’t know why, but I’ll be there. My brother will come up on his motorcycle and go with me in the morning then head back home after lunch.

He brought more bookshelves with him when he came, so now three more bookshelves were built, and all of my books are finally up off the floor. This is a relief, and I do have room on some of the shelves to let the collection grow, as libraries do. We all know books breed in the dark, when we’re not looking.

Today it has been gloriously sunny. The time shift happened last night, so now the clock has moved forward an hour and dusk comes later. I hate clock shifts, but it will be nice to have more light in the evening again. Feeling like a walk and wanting to get some sun, I headed down to the Molo Audace, the long, narrow stone pier near Piazza Unità. I think all of Trieste was out walking today, in the piazze and along the waterfront. There was a haze over the sea, and cargo ships floating like islands on the horizon. Sailboats skimmed slowly over the calm water like the people walking the shoreline.

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Ships and sailboats on the Adriatic off Molo Audace

I saw an immense number of jellyfish, along with small schools of minnows skimming just below the surface of the water. Beneath the murmur of conversation, if you listen closely, you can hear the tiny splash of dorsal fins. There were two species of jellyfish, their umbrellas rippling gently as they moved, rising and falling in slow motion. I sat on the dock for a while, writing in my notebook and enjoying the warmth of the sun.

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Aurelia aurita (smaller jellyfish) and Rhizostoma pulmo swimming near the pier

Finally, feeling like moving, I rose and headed back toward the Piazza. Along the way, a man with a hookah sat on the stone, putting together a fishing pole. Around me, Italian, German, and Slovenian language in waves. I walked slowly, trying to let go of my need for perfection and my unconscious desire to hurry everywhere. I thought about Specchi, but it was pretty crowded, as one would expect on a brilliantly sunny Sunday afternoon. I walked down to Ginger, but the four little tables inside were full, and there was a line, so I wandered back to Specchi and got a seat anyway, and had a spritz aperol. The presentation was a bit over the top, with a bowl of chips and bits of other snacks on pikes like the heads of my enemies.

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Spritz aperol with food on spikes. NOM.

I talked briefly to the waiter. I think people are starting to recognize me, even if they don’t know my name, as the smiles I get are friendlier than they were the first few times I’ve been into some of these same places. It’s nice, having people recognize my presence as something other than a passing thing. He grinned when I left, at my “ci vediamo.” I can’t say much, but I’m trying to use more of what little I do have in hopes it will become easier. I stopped a couple of blocks from my flat at Gelateria Zampolli, at Via Carlo Ghega 10, which came recommended to me as one of the better places in town. I remember when I was initially researching Trieste online, I’d read one person’s report of the city, complaining that they couldn’t find a gelateria anywhere, and I will admit I find myself wondering if they ever got more than a block from Piazza Unità for their entire visit, as there are quite a few gelaterias here, just like pretty much anywhere else in Italy. I had a scoop of lemon. It was delicious.

Tonight I’ve got some chicken simmering on the stove. I’ll make chicken soup with lentils. My brother brought me baking powder, baking soda, and corn starch for various things, so I picked up eggs and milk to make scones. I usually use an egg substitute because I’m mildly allergic to eggs, but a little bit in a batch of scones isn’t usually a problem. A year ago, I didn’t imagine my life would look like this, ever. It’s strange what life hands us sometimes.

The flat smells like chicken soup. The balcony door is open. The sun is lowering in the sky. Life is good.