Jet lag is still with me. It hits suddenly and I am dead. Went to bed last night at 10:30. Woke at 1 and could not get back to sleep.
Apparently, I have been spelling the name of this community wrong. It is Novara. Not Novarro. It was easy to become confused. There are signs all over the city spelling this place. In typical Italian fashion, the name is spelled differently each time. I have it correct now, however.
I took a walk at lunch time yesterday. Once more I was impressed with the downtown area. It is referred to as an historic centre. Medieval buildings constructed between 1100 and 1300. Still standing in all their glory as if new today.
For whatever reason, Novara has been sacked and destroyed from earliest times. Even Attila the Hun beat up Novara. The Romans came. They constructed a stone walled city. The wall surrounded the entire city. The wall remained until demolished for purposes of urban development. Not twentieth century development. Rather construction of buildings such as I have seen. Buildings constructed between 1100 and 1300. The time referred to as urban development.
The new Novara was built on the ruins of the old.
I saw part of the old yesterday. The Roman constructed walls were discovered. They had been hidden for centuries beneath the ground. The Roman walls in small part have been excavated and are there for the world to see. I found the walls astonishing! At least three feet thick. Looked like poured concrete with outside coverings of stone. No weapon of the time could have penetrated the wall.
This downtown area is interesting and lovely. I walked up and down the streets open only to pedestrian traffic. Many people. Though not crowded shoulder to shoulder. I discovered cars are allowed. Those owned by the apartment residents. Makes sense. Otherwise they would have to walk several blocks to get home.
The cars came and went occasionally. Not often. Typical of Italian drivers, the cars moved fast. I noted that without looking, the walkers automatically moved over for a car to pass. The car was never seen. The people nevertheless moved out of way way.
I watched this wonder for a while. Then I figured it out. The buildings across the street from each other are very close. Ten to twenty feet. The road is worn brick. The noise of the approaching car is amplified greatly by the buildings and road. It is acoustical. The noise bounces off the buildings loudly. Pedestrians hear it and automatically move to the side.
The car drivers speed. Never slow down. As if they had no concern for the walkers.
The people are strange. They never make eye contact. I noticed this 25 years ago when I was in Rome.
The people are beautiful! No one is fat in Italy. The men must have 28-32 waists. I last saw 32 in college. Male and female alike dress elegantly. Even in jeans. Most men wear jeans. Topped by a crispy shirt. Crispy is the only way to describe the attire of both men and women.
The people never seem to smile. I noticed this 25 years ago, also.
All of a sudden, I was hit by jet lag. I had to lie down. Rest. I was desperate for it.
I returned to the building I am staying in. There are 124 steps to the apartment. I counted them. Getting to the apartment is like climbing Mount Everest. I had to stop three times to rest.
I was with a group of locals last night. The husband and wife who own the rice paddies, golf course and castle on the hill were there. We found we enjoyed each other. They invited me out for a bite to eat. The wife spoke English. She had majored in it at universities in Italy and London. Her husband spoke no English. She interpreted for the both of us. The couple is in their mid 60s.
We went out for pizza. At a trattoria. Not a Pizza Hut or Dominos type place. A restaurant with tablecloths and cloth napkins. Real silverware. Clean.
We ordered pizza. Neapolitan pizza. Made with anchovies.
I was shocked when the pizzas arrived. We each were served with one whole pizza. Larger than a small and smaller than a large back home. How could I eat it? In Key West, I am a one slice person. Rarely two.
When in Rome…..
We dug in. It was very thin pizza. Crispy. I did not like it. The anchovies were baked into the mozzarella. I am an anchovy lover. But not served that way I discovered. Cooked anchovies were not to my liking. What to do. I ate it. What else. I could not insult my hosts.
They each devoured their whole pizzas. Again, I could not be the impolite guest. I ate all of mine. Horrible!
I noticed a couple of things in the restaurant. One was that every one drank bottled water. My friends, also. I ordered, as I do back home, a diet Coke. I asked why everyone was drinking bottled water. Because it was cheap, I was told. Much cheaper than my can of diet coke.
The other thing I noticed was that none of the people in the restaurant smiled or laughed during dinner. Strange. My table was roaring, primarily because of me.
Afterwards, my new found friends wanted to show me the golf course. We drove through miles of rice fields on each side of the road. They own all of it. They ship rice all over Europe, to Central America and to South America. None to the United States. I did not ask why.
The golf course was to the side of the rice fields. A nine hole course. Tees laid out differently if one wishes to play 18 holes. A nice clubhouse and several other buildings. The drinking/dining area warm and inviting. I was sorry I would not have time to play this trip.
They built the course themselves 20 years ago. The land was not suitable for rice. They wanted to put it to good use. Ergo, the golf course was born.
It was getting dark. I stepped outside. I could see trees every where. I could sense the area. It had the taste and smell of Fourth Lake in the New York Adirondack Mountains on a July evening.
YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS! We just had an earthquake! They had a big one in this area last week. The one today lasted about ten seconds. Everything moved. The chandeliers are still moving. Some of the ladies panicked. Screamed. Still yelling. Italians are very demonstrative. I just sat here and thought…..Oh, shit!
What a trip this is going to be!
Getting back to last night, I returned home with jet lag upon me once more. I fell asleep as I was being driven home. On top of which, I had a sick stomach. The 124 steps were not easy.
Some odd ball items. Nothing can top the earthquake, however.
There are three churches in the area. They all have bells. Apparently large. Each clang very noisy. They all go off on the hour. Fortunately, only by day. They do not go off at the same time. They must be planned. One church at a time with a short separation between each. It is like living in New York City by the elevated subway train.
Everyone drives too fast for me. Most of the roads are narrow, especially in the countryside. One lane. Not each way. Both ways, the same lane.
When an approaching car is seen, both vehicles play chicken to see who is going to move onto the shoulder first.
There is a Catholic church in Milan that has the Last Supper. The real one. I may take the train into Milan this afternoon to see it.
Thursday I leave for Athens. After this earthquake, I think it is time to leave Dodge.
Enjoy your day!
Note: While I was doing spell check, the after shocks came. Trembling. Chandeliers moved again. Someone just ran in to tell me TV announced the disturbance as a severe earthquake. I have been hearing for the past few minutes sirens. Probably fire engines and ambulances. Another person just ran in to tell me that the quake was a 5.8 on the Richter scale. What I thought was the aftershock turned out to be a second quake. 4.0 on the Richter scale. I must admit my stomach is getting a bit queasy. I am uncomfortable. My thought process tells me that if I must be in an earthquake, this building is a good place. It has withstood quakes, floods and wars for over a thousand years and still stands. Hopefully, I will blog you again tomorrow. I am not leaving you yet. TV announced all trains to Milan have stopped running. I do not know specifically why. I doubt I will be viewing the Last Supper this afternoon. It was further announced that a thousand year old cathedral about a one hour drive from Novara collapsed. So much for my theory that thousand year old buildings are a safe place.