Here I am in Italy. I am attending a conference called “Literature, Translation, and Mediation by and for children: Gender, Diversity, and Stereotype”. (That’s their title, don’t complain to me about the commas.) It is being put on by the University of Bologna at their country convention center in Bertinoro. More about the venue tomorrow, but first I need to talk about trains.
I suspect that a lot of Americans won’t believe this, but getting around Europe by train is really easy. I flew into Rome last night and stayed at an airport hotel. This morning I caught the Leonardo Express into Roma Termini. It is a half hour journey and costs €14.
Roma Termini is the main station in Rome where all of the inter-city trains stop. I caught a Frecciarossa service that runs from Napoli to Milano, calling at Roma and Bologna only. We even breezed through Firenze without stopping. It took just over 2 hours from Rome to Bologna, and cost under €30 for business class, including free cookies, water and espresso on board.
It should have taken just under 2 hours, but we were a bit late leaving Rome and there was some slow running through Firenze so I missed the local connection from Bologna to Forli. I had booked my tickets online in advance, and though I was able to read the timetables and find an alternative train I wasn’t sure if my ticket was valid. There are fewer people who speak English at Bologna station than Rome, but I got on the train and the conductor elected not to charge me any more. The cab driver at Forli spoke English.
So here I am, having a great time already, and having consumed a fair amount of fine local wine. I have discovered that dunking almond biscotti into sweet wine is a thing. I approve.