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#2 : Pilgrimage Starboard

Day1. Part 2.

sunny 25 °C
View Departure for Bologna on KrimFiction's travel map.

Dreams within a dream

My hometown of Rouyn-Noranda is situated on the western verge of the province of Quebec, in Canada. It is a small city of 43k citizens built alongside the Osisko Lake, where rich deposits of copper were discovered in 1917. Following their disclosure, ambitious prospectors from nearby regions converged in its marrow and the city experienced such a rapid grow that it even became the third metropolis of Quebec in 1930. Enclosing my birth town is the region of Abitibi-Témiscamingue which boasts itself today of an astounding population density of 2.5 inhabitants per km2, which makes it an ideal locus for outdoor activities, considering that almost its entirety still lies untamed, uncivilized and wild.

Rouyn-Noranda being remote from all nearby human civilization, it is possible to simply drive some 10km off its outskirts, in order to stargaze cozily atop tall boulders in a clearing of bedrock devoid of any pesky light pollution. If luck is on your side, and the planed overcasted sky gradually makes way to a clear star-studded one, then coerce a couple of your oldest companions into lending you their rusty telescope and beat-up car so that you too can experience for free the enthralling performance of the Universe's oldest show!

The summertime here unravels to old and young the beauties of The Milky Way in all their creamy wonders, with its plethora of swirling and quivering milk droplets; the earth's slow revolution acting as a celestial churn that produces buttery midnight snacks to satiate its occasional curious partakers. There is still so much more to observe, and so little time left! There's the mischievous Venus and Mars that embezzle, just like Cinderella once did, the dazzling image and radiant dress of stars for a night time. There's the constellation Cassiopeia, that comely whirl and writhe in her woe to form a wafting W amidst the Milky Way. There's the Summer Triangle, that tripartite star shape that tosses aside the tacit sweetheart Vega and Altair from their fated union's fruition. There's the...

Oh! A meteor! I should make a wish.


It is now 18 o'clock. I slowly rouse from my deathbed, lavishly perspiring in my room, now more akin to a kiln per fault of the oppressive sultriness originated from the opened curtain and three-quarter closed window of my alcove, that conceded untolled passage to the sun's beams for them to complete their 150 million kilometers one-way trip to the least touristical zone of the Solar System : my long hairy dangling legs. Notwithstanding the heat, the lustrous film of salty bodily fluid that covered my pristine body, and my ever still lingering liquor-induced nausea, I sprung to my feet and followed the impetus that gently joggled my timid heart of exploring the perilous new world of Bologna.

A quick perusal of the Wikipedia page describing Bologna had imparted me with the conceit that the city savored of a healthy mix betwixt carefree inhabitants - one quarter of which were students, probably aspiring to ambitions even paltrier than mine; a well inclusive cookery, betrothing the freshness and elegance of Mediterranean aliments with the greasy and comforting victuals peculiar of barbaric northern tribes; and multifarious cultural sights comprising tall leaning towers, intricate Gothic architectures, and art pieces sprinkled all around the city. This seemed to fare truly for now; at the end of a leisurely 40 minute stroll in the city's heart, amidst narrow, labyrinthine streets continuously thronging with belated undergraduates flouncing hither and thither to lucubrate their upcoming finals, I finally reached a square locally known as the Piazza delle Sette Chiese, which encompasses seven places of cults, one of which being the basilica of Santo Stefano built by the bishop San Petronio during the fifth century upon a temple of the goddess Isis, to replicate here in Bologna the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

The churches, crypt, chapel and courtyard of this square girdled some boisterous bars, where the local fraternity of Goliard drank wine unrestrained on terraces, celebrating some blasphemous cult whilst garbed in the antic attire and famous bicorne and feluche of their sacred order. These dissolute poets and drunkards were singing the values and courage of their spiritual ancestors, sometimes known as scholares vagantes, or clerici vagantes, who desisted their fealty to Christendom to advocate a life of adventures, literary prowess, and scholarly pursuit abroad, all of these without straying from the path of pleasures and revelry that guided their every deed. This pleasing scene formed a most sanctimonious sight, perfectly befitting the heathenism of the region of Emilia-Romagna.

I had that day thoroughly lost my way in the skein of roads quintessential of Italy's city hub after a bit less than 15 minutes of roving - my sense of direction being without any surprise practically nonexistent. I had took a left turn just outside of my apartment, followed by a sharp right, another left, two short successive rights in a small pedestrian street, to then proceed inside a general store across the street with the objective of buying an electrical adapter and a bike locker for the bicycle I planed on using for ulterior adventures. When I finally exited the shop with the two articles in hands, the landmarks I had previously noted were no longer present. The parked red Fiat, the walking gypsy with the purple dress, the gray bicycle, the common tree with no apparent distinguishing traits : all of these had been slyly swindled away from me! It was as if the shop had been teleported with me to another part of the city.

I could no longer return inside the shop to ask for direction to the same helpful cashier I had discussed with for a bit. This was absolutely out of the question since I had parted from him on a remarkable footing with a clear and decisive "Ciao! Grazie!" indicating the closure of our previous interaction. My standing with a general store's clerk I would never meet again was at stake, I had to act on my own. I thus blindly followed my intuition and went starboard in the complete opposite direction of my home, skillfully and involuntarily avoiding every noteworthy sight on the way to find myself conclusively at the square previously depicted.

After another two hours of dispirited wandering, I haphazardly returned back home, feet bleeding and blistered per fault of the brand-new roman sandals I had had the brilliant idea of wearing; the sole of my feet being then like silk : still vestal and oblivious to the hardships of my new nomadic life. Not three meters away from my small haven, I met with my Airbnb host, the Sicilian gargoyle, who was just exiting his room with light luggage in hands. We eyed each other for a good 2 seconds without rustling one hem of our respective garment; I, too frightened to even breath; him, surveying the best possible way to devour my fragile self whole. I would have readily thrown myself down the stairs to prevent his sharp fangs and claws from piercing my soft tender loins, but alas his basiliscine gaze had already made stone of my flesh; I was naught but a sapid kebab petrified by the wickedness of this awe-inspiring apex predator.

He finally uttered in English : "Ke-erim...", which startled me into biting my own tong, "I be out to-onight AND to-omorrow... Ple-ease. Come... see here my friend." I uneasily toddled my way with him to the kitchen, where a stalwart and gallant man was sitting legs athwart, keenly reading the newspapers; perceiving wonders in these black and white symbols that I never supposed even existed. He took down his fine grey glasses, met my eyes with the genteel air of a duke and exuded me a warm and relaxed smile comparable to the one a proud father would bestow upon his only progeny who had for the first time single-handedly laced his own shoes. He was in his late twenties, wore a neat grey flannel trouser with a simple white shirt unbuttoned at the top, and frequented the gyms daily. That, I deduced owing to the towering muscular mass he displayed, which I conspicuously envied.

We lost ourselves in pleasant chatters for some time, interchangeably using English and Italian to our own mind's relish, discussing our respective occupations, penchants, dreams and objectives. Gladness filled my heart for having met so soon with someone I could without any doubt consider in no time a dear friend of mine. He imparted me with much-needed knowledge about the city's inner secrets, places of interest and forbidding districts I should avoid after dusk, where prowling hooligans accomplished petty crimes veiled in the guise of darkness. He continued his speech by relating me that Bologna was, in fact, quite infamous for its high number of bike-thefts owing, according to him, "to the black-people and migrants" that lived illegally in its poorest locality. He proceeded with renewed ardor in telling me that buying a used bike in Bologna was as easy as "[asking] the first black-man [I could] see in the streets of Piazza Verdi" for him to "sell [me] the bike he had stolen the day before". I was shocked that such a seemingly fine gentleman could prejudiced himself of such bigotry and vehement distrust for other human beings. Desiring not to mingle with a character of such a vile nature, I parted from him shortly after to return to my bedroom, deliberately severing the newborn stem of friendship that could have flourished between us into a splendid bouquet.

Excellent readers, I bid you farewell, and until next time!

Yours truly,


Posted by KrimFiction 15:02 Archived in Italy Tagged friend history church bologna italy lost stars literature airbnb Comments (1)

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