Saturday, December 1, 2012

1 Dec 2012, Saturday to Cremona

At 6.30 am,  I left three full shopping bags of purchases in my hotel room and quietly left the room key on the front desk. My bag was extra heavy with a bottle of fresh Tuscan olive oil from Borgo San Lorenzo. I can never think of a good gift for Marina in America, so I choose something from Tuscany, which always pleases her. I also have a bag of regional dried hot peppers.

Alessio heard me unlatch the front door and came out to carry the bag down. We had to do a little dance at the bottom of the stairs, at the first doors, the glass apartment ones. He had no key and didn't want to use the buzzer to wake up Asumi. Once outside the glass doors, I then unlatched and pulled open the external heavy wooden doors.  This outside set of doors is normally left open from 8-8 daily. After that, one must use a set if keys or call from a cell phone to enter. Also, the floor in this public area is washed every morning around 8.30. I passed by the man doing this in my way to school this week. Here, cleanliness is as necessary as eating and sleeping.

I forgot to mention that every morning, the shop keepers wash their own windows. The floors are done at night, just after closing by the commesse (shop clerks). Sometimes I bump my head right into glass store front windows,  not realizing there is glass.

So, as I walked down Via Tornabuoni at 6.30, windows were being washed as business people walked to work. Some joggers were out. It's a short 15 minute walk to SMN Stazione.

I located the train for Bologna, which was already at the binario. The walk to car 9 did take more than a few minutes. This is the fast train to Milano/Bologna.  We depart at 7.21 and arrive at 7.58.  Almost a bullet  train. Seats are reserved. I have to be really careful not to fall asleep! I'd wake up in Milano.

We made the connection on time Bologna to Fidenza. 8.24 to 9.33.

Holding my  validated ticket between my teeth, I began to descend the first set of steps. I had only struggled with two steps when a young African picked up the bottom of my bag and together we carried it to the bottom. Then suddenly he turned and ran back up the stairs. I called out Thank you! You're and angel. He never turned around. 
I had put a 5€ note and several 1€ coins in my jeans pocket, hoping to find a gypsy to take the bag both down and up. He found me of course, at the bottom of the ascending stairs.   He carried the bag up to the platform, took the 5€ and then said dieci  (10). I acted confused and pulled out 1€ coin. And that was all I was prepared to offer. He smiled and thanked me. 

 While on the train, I saw the signs for the ascensore (elevator) and took a picture to remember its location. Next time and I can choose the elevator or the gypsy, based on available time. 
I texted Rosa and Marta from each successful boarding.  One more train to go... This is the connection with the shortest time to make the transfer.  The Bologna train should arrive in Fidenza at 9.33, plenty of time to get to the departing Cremona train at 9.47. That would mean getting off the train with a 55 pound suitcase and going down one set of stairs, walking through the underground tunnel to the last set of stairs and dragging, pulling the bag up to the platform. 

When we pulled in to Fidenza, the Cremona train was sitting right there in plain sight. I had no need to check the binario number. I started down the stairs, when I encountered a ragazzo (teenager) carrying a plastic covered, life sized yellow teddy bear, which was holding a red heart. He handed me the bear and he took the suitcase. At the bottom of the stairs, in the underground corridor, he took back his bear and raced to the Cremona stairs. I was thinking, oh no, he knows the train is about to depart. He didn't notice I was headed in the same direction. I didn't waste a second to check my watch. I hurried as fast as I could. At the stairs, with shear will I carried that bag. No time for dragging. As always, I was wearing my movers' back brace. 
 At top of the stairs, on the platform, the boy looked back at me in surprise. He hadn't yet gotten on the train. He was busy discarding the plastic wrapping on the bear. He climbed onto the train and I followed. We were the last to board. We joined four or five travelers already seated. He positioned the bear in the seat across from him.  I took a picture. 

As the train departed, I called Marta and told her in Italian that I had not missed the train because a nice young man had helped me. Like any teenager of that age, he was a little embarrassed but I wanted him to know I was so appreciative. 
At 10.19 I arrived in Cremona. We had been on time for all transfers! 
The doors open and I began to pull the bag off the train, when a big hand came around and took its handle. I looked up to see Mario!! 

We hugged and I followed him to the car and within a few minutes we were home. There was Marta, at the top of the stairs, where I had last seen her incinta (pregnant). Now Baby Boy G is three months old. 

I hugged, cuddled and rocked our sweet baby all day. He makes eye contact and smiles. Mario watched him twice, as we ran out to shop. We were only gone 20 minutes each trip. Everything is within walking distance.  
Rosa and Mattia have been at the hospital since 8,30. Mattia has been struggling with a medical issue. He's been careful with his diet since last May when I was here. Today they will determine if he needs surgery. Rosa called to keep us updated. 

Marta made a delicious lunch of pasta with pancetta and tomatoes, followed by lettuce, tomato wedges and sliced Proscuito which was not truly Proscuito but Culatello, which is more expensive, lighter and more delicate. For dessert, a crostata Marta had made with adorable baby theme cut-outs.


After lunch we all took turns holding Baby G.  He's adorable of course! But he's also very calm and wasn't afraid of me. He's three months old, holds eye contact and smiles.  He goo goos and is actively moving his arms and legs. When we drove the short distance to visit Mattia and Rosa, he held onto my finger tightly, from his car seat. 

I moved my luggage first from Mario's car, to Rosa's apartment and then to Marina and Primo's apartment. Rosa and I drove to Cremona Due for grocery shopping. These shopping trips are one of the highpoints of my trip!  On my list was Pane Sardo (Sardegnian bread), Nutella, and Perugina chocolates.  Rosa and I take our time, with no one rushing us.  Up and down each aisle.  No pictures are allowed here, unfortunately.

I picked up a bag of pistachios for my flight home and a little birthday gift for Mario: 25 little windows of chocolate to start the countdown for Christmas. 
I need to be careful buying now because I'm approaching my weight limit. The bags I left in Firenze weigh 20 kilo. I can take two bags on Air France, each weighing 23 kilo. Of course, I have to pay for the second bag.  Cost is about $60 and worth it.

Primo and Marina are still out of town enjoying the luxurious weekend getaway Primo won playing golf. For dinner, Rosa cooked pasta for Mattia and salad, rosemary fried potatoes with roasted chicken from Cremona Due for the rest of us. She's had a long day and Mattia, although better, still looks peaked after those tests. He needed to eat and he did.

Afternoon mass is always a treat for me.  I attended with Rosa and had a short visit with my favorite Santa Rita.  I lit a candle for Alessandro, as I always do.

At CremonaDue, Rosa and I somehow had managed to squeeze an over sized box, containing a fabulous clothes drying rack, into the car.  Mattia assembled its rolling legs while waiting for dinner. I took pictures. I need to check for availability of a rack like this. I WANT one.  I may need to order one and have it shipped next trip. 


At 9pm everyone was tired.  I crossed over to Primo and Marina's apartment to spend the night. 

Buona Notte

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