1: a long way from home

In Others
July 18, 2010

I start rather more energetically than I mean to go on, because I think I spent only 40 seconds today in a place I’ve been before: the one familiar place was Gare de Lyon Paris, marching through in an attempt to composter mon billet (ma billet? why would a billet have a gender anyway?) and get on the train for Milan before they closed the platform. Eight hours on a train from Paris to Milan, an hour on a train from Milan to Bologna, a cab, a hotel, a short walk and then this:

Yes it is a male statue’s nice naked bottom, what of it? However, just so as not to be sexist, here is a female statue with water squirting out of her nipples (are they called statues when they’re on fountains? I can’t call them ‘fountains’).

People in the somewhat-far-away past were a lot less prudish than people in the recent-past and than we imagine everyone before us was. I can’t imagine someone getting permission from a city council to erect something this frankly (and slightly weirdly) sexual in the centre of town today.

I am in Bologna. I got here by train, all the way from London, with a night in Paris in the middle. I thought I would love that experience, and in fact I really did. I love the fact that I actually felt the miles go past. That, having travelled here, I have some idea of what’s in between London and Bologna. (Lac du Bourget looks amazing.) Travelling by train is like browsing the world. It’s all very well to be able to put yourself in a metal box, ascend several thousand feet above the earth’s surface and then come back down exactly where you wanted to be. But some of the best discoveries are made when you weren’t really looking for them. After today, I can say with certainty that the Alps are really blooming impressive, and that the houses south of them have a distinctly different look to those north. And that I want to do this again.

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