I can’t believe it’s been just over 50 days since I arrived in Italy. The time has mostly just flown past. Having arrived at the end of winter has meant there have been a lot of very wet days which also means a lot of weekend have been kinda washed out, however, that’s now starting to improve a lot. I suppose one of the biggest adjustments has been not having the family here with me. When I came down I had expected that the odd weekend trip back might be something that was doable; however, between the cost of flights and scheduling of the cheap flights, it’s really not possible. Trips back home will have to be something done less often but for longer, or it’s not sensible.
So, what have I done since I’ve been here? Well, just to update on the work front, it’s simply a great place to work. Stress levels here are pretty much non-existent for most people (that I’ve spoken with) and I can’t say I’ve felt any level of stress at all (at least not from the work environment, it’s all come from the fact that I’m contracting and having to expect others to do their job so I can get paid; however, that has not been going well so far). The pace at work has been a slow-to-moderate one as compared to many places that I’ve been before. Should the opportunity come up for a ‘staff’ position here I’d be seriously considering it that’s for sure.
Back to what I’ve been up to here (work aside). Well lets see. I’ve been to Milan, Genoa and Pisa (for big cities) and the other day I went to Portovenere which is across the ‘bay’ from San Terenzo where I’m living. The local area of San Terenzo and Lerici is very nice so far, however, I’m warned that come the summer time this area is a hotbed of tourists. We’ll have to see how that goes. I didn’t really get many pics from Milan due to the weather being miserable and Yuki and I left a day early since it was pointless just hanging out in a city we couldn’t enjoy because of the weather. There will be other trips back there for sure.
Despite knowing very little Italian it’s not too bad to get by here without it, Google Translate gets lots of use. I’ve still not started my Italian lessons, hopefully those will start in the coming week or so. It’s pretty easy to pick up the basic phrases to help one get through the days and I think I’ve gotten some of the important ones committed to memory. It will be nice to perhaps one day get to the level of basic conversation.
Travel around Italy is a little different from a lot of places I’ve been to, I’ve not used public transport in other places around Europe so many may well be similar. In Italy when riding the buses it’s best to either buy your tickets from a machine at some bus stops, make sure you select the correct codice(coding) for your journey as it could lead to a hefty fine if it’s wrong. The easier way to get tickets is by going to a tabacchi (Tobacconist). These are everywhere in Italy and are always well signed, usually with a big T usually in either black or red. You will still need to know what to ask for. From my experience here just asking for “bus ticket to ” was enough. When I was buying tickets to get from Lerici to La Spezia I just asked “to La Spezia” and I was sold the €2.50 tickets in a book of 10. If you will be here for a month or more then I’d highly suggest looking at getting a monthly pass, for me I pay €43/mth and that allows me to travel as much as I like on the local buses up to 50 km away from my home location. One key note for bus travel here, make sure when you board the bus that you use one of the validation machines to timestamp your tickets, if an inspector gets on and you don’t have a stamped ticket it’s then you don’t have a ticket.
Train travel in Italy isn’t too hard either. Tickets can be purchased from kiosks at the stations. All the machines I’ve seen so far are multilingual so that should be easy. I’ve also found here buying tickets through apps like Trainline.EU (Android/Apple) or you can buy direct through Trainitalia; however, I believe you’re required to provide with them your codice fiscale to complete the purchase. I will do another blog posting about what that is and how you get one soon. If you purchase your train ticket from a station you will be provided with a large paper ticket printed on thick card. As with the bus ticket, this must be validated at one of the machines in the station, it doesn’t matter which validation machine, as all they do is stamp the ticket with the time, date and station info. If you forget to do this and board the train and are asked for your ticket, you will be fined. Unlike the bus tickets which don’t have any info about the journey so can be used on any bus (in your area) at any time, a train ticket has all the related details for your journey. The ticket contains the times, dates, train numbers, journey starting and finishing locations and even your seat numbers in many cases; however, without that one little line printed by the validation machine … your ticket is useless. DO NOT FORGET TO VALIDATE YOUR TRAIN TICKET!!!
Thanks for taking the time to read through this (if you made it to the end). I hope to do more blog posts as my time here goes on. It’s something I use to do a lot and kind of enjoyed it and have decided I need to get back at it again. Over on the right is a box that you can use to subscribe to my blog so you’ll get notified when new posts come out (if you don’t follow me on the various social media). I promise you’ll never get any spam.
Until the next time, Arrivederci!