*so sorry for the lack of photos here - oh I wish I had thought to take a picture of my pasta!!*
Success! After being in Munich and feeling completely lost in German, I arrived back into Italy feeling like I was back in familiar territory. 'Yeah, I can get by in this language. I know what I'm doing!' (Haha!) BUT, I did arrive at the train station and successfully in Italian 1. ask for and buy post card stamps, and 2. buy a bus ticket and ask where the stop was for bus number 21. AND I understood the man's directions to get there (well not all of it but enough to understand where to go). AND I asked on the bus for someone to please tell me where the stop was for the Piazza I needed to get off at in order to get to Marcella's house (my couchsurfing host).
So that started my Italian evening in Bologna. Just going to be a night stop-over on my way to my first helpx job near Citta di Castello in Umbria, Bologna ended up being a great evening of really "being" in Italy, and in the heart of the food capital of the country!
When I got to Marcella's, we drank some tea and chatted for awhile, talking about my travels and her own experience in the States, in California. Then we headed out to go to the center of town so she could show me around. I wish I had got there a little earlier so I could have seen some of the sites a little better because it was starting to get dark when we headed out, but nonetheless, Bologna is a really neat town! All the walkways are covered with what they call porticos, a signature of the city.
Then a friend of Marcella called her and we all met up to do my "traditional Bolognese food and wine night." Her friend didn't speak English, so I took the opportunity to say that let's just have an Italian night and I will do my best, which turned out to be a great thing! First, after much discussion between Marcella and Claudia about where to go, (they had to pick just the right places!) we went to a wine bar where they ordered me a very good regional red wine. And then I turned my brain on to catching any words I could pick up on, working, working, working to piece together the familiar to decipher the conversation. Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes not, but I could feel my brain taking notes, storing words, learning new ones, Marcella helping me along when I got lost!
And what a way to end my first part of Italy - my traveling part around the region, learning the ropes of train schedules and buses, asking questions, slowly learning bits and pieces of Italian, seeing the sea and the mountains, cities, and art, and tasting the regions food and drinks. And hostels and couchsurfing, which has been such an AMAZING experience; each host being a little different but all enhancing my trip so much.
And so now I am hanging up my backpack for awhile for some time in the Umbrian countryside. I was really getting quite good at packing my things....hefting my backpacking pack on my back and then placing my little backpack over the shoulders in the front. The tell sign of the traveling backpacker. Kind of like how motorcyclists have their little wave on the road - we pass each other in the station, recognizing that we share a similar experience, giving each other a little nod. (I'll have to get a picture of this get up for you all to see!)