Walking to class after having written whatever for half an hour this morning, I found myself philosophizing with Sarah on the way. I’ve switch a city full of bicycle thieves for city overflowing with bicycles. Here everyone is on two wheels, a traffic that is even more dangerous than cars. Being a flat city, Ferrara encourages bicycles everywhere to cascade through the alleyways and cobblestoned piazze. Bikes line the fronts of busy stores, stop in hoards at traffic lights, and crisscross in and out of crowds of people on foot. Once you get used to being alert always you can start to enjoy the city and relax.
I walked into the main cathedral the other day and remarked at how big the space was inside. Many streets in Italy are narrow and dense with population so public spaces represent a beautiful and natural stage for feeling the grandness of space. It makes the concept of space that much more sacred. In Ferrara, although the public squares are very large and open, the space within the Duomo is still very much holy, reducing your apparent size in its cavernous darkness and silence. A beautiful space for meditation and escape. Standing on the marble floor as the sunlight hits the golden details of the church’s metalwork inspires awe and shushes your frenetic heart to silence.
Taking a tour with our guardian angel student, I realized that the life of a student in Italy will be an adventure. A gym membership in Italy requires a certification of good health from a doctor (for which you have to pay if you can’t get one from your own doctor), proof of inscription at the university (which we don’t have yet) and a document (we have this! We have this!). Getting the thumbs up from Sarah that our Internet connection at the library does indeed work, the group rejoiced knowing that the end had come to our paying for Internet on a daily basis. A small success for us all. Gio (Joe) our guardian angel student, let us know that in order to photocopy materials we would have to get yet another membership, this time from the photocopy store (I joked that we would have a whole card deck full of memberships by the end of the semester). In order to do all the photocopying we had to, we would have to ask to use the photocopiers in the back so that no one broke copyright laws knowingly. We’re students, dammi un break. Hopefully I’ll be able to buy a few of my books legally. At the end of it all we had Spritz, some sort of alcoholic drink that did quite some good, and toasted to our semester. In January after our exams we’ll be so ready to buy memberships and show 8 forms of ID that we won’t know what to do when things are just too simple to complete.