I am sitting on a train.
Ready to leave Bergamo behind me for one weekend.
I’m heading south,
to the coast.
When I take a peek outside the window, I see people coming in and out of the train. Their faces look as grey as the sky above us. Without any expression. It’s weird to see how strongly the weather marks people’s moods. I can see the disappointment in their eyes when they notice the rain.
Two hours later, I find myself in Verona train station. This is the city of Juliette and her balcony. And Romeo, of course. Oh Romeo… Jasmina and I wanted to go for a cappuccino in the city, near the famous balcony, but the rain kept us inside the station, waiting for our next train. I like the feeling when I’m checking people around me in a train station. It makes me feel invisible and relaxed in a place with a lot of stress and hurry.
Back on the train, I open my book and put on some music. Within a blink of the eye, I’m submerged in a total different place. It’s as if I’m swimming in my own little perfect world for about 4 hours, passing by a lot of cities. My lips are playing mechanically with the gum in my mouth. I smile at the man sitting beside me as he is humming a song while looking out of the window. I feel like asking him what he is thinking about. Which song he is humming. Out of the blue, a voice above me breaks all the magic. We reached Cesena, a city not far from the Adriatic coast.
Suddenly I feel as excited as a kid on Christmas, glowing like a Christmas tree light bulb as the weather is better when I get off the train. Then I see M., and a feeling of instant happiness hits me in the face. (M. is an Italian friend of mine who I met last year, during my internship at Vlerick Leuven Gent Managementschool. When we said goodbye last year, I knew I was going to meet him again someday in my life.) It feels so great to see him back after almost one year. He takes us to our cosy hotel in Cervia, a hidden pearl at the Adriatic coast. I notice that the light in the sky changes into brighter colours as we are approaching the ocean by car. My eyes shine, just like the sky, although it is still a little grey.
Then I see the sea. Two friends meeting each other again…
We are welcomed by M.’s friends, a cold bottle of water and a Piadina con Mortadella. The “Piadina” is probably the most famous food icon of Romagna, the area east of the city of Bologna. You see little Piadina booths everywhere in this area, just like you see the french fries booths everywhere in Belgium. It cannot be compared with pitta bread, fajitas or whatsoever. Piadina is Piadina! You can eat it with a wide selection of meats like salame, mortadella, pancetta, prosciutto, … or with many different types of cheese as well as other Italian delicacies.
I lean over to M.’s friends and I pay attention to what they are saying to each other in Italian. Their accents are different, I notice. Nevertheless, I try to understand them. They make themselves understood with hand gestures and deep eye contact, also with jokes. We play beach volley together and decide to have dinner at a fish restaurant near the harbour. It’s nice to see that so many young people from all over Italy have the fantastic habit to meet each other each year at Easter and I’m happy to participate to this feast.
The day afterwards, the weather is still grey and it is even raining. Not as I planned (neither did my suitcase), but that’s just the way it is. M. is waiting for me outside with an umbrella and we decide to have a long walk on the beach. People say that the smell of the beach makes you hungry and thirsty. Maybe because of the salt? I don’t know. After a long while of walking and talking, our stomachs started to call for food.
An aperitivo at Milano Marittima closed the day. Cervia is a place where families go to. Milano Marittima is a place where fancy people go to. It’s a bit like Knokke in Belgium, but a lot bigger and more expensive. People even smell expensive. I mean to smell some Gucci’s and Chanel’s passing by. Later that evening, M. takes us to his hometown, Ferrara. The next morning, we start the day with a Brioche con marmellata di albicocche and a cappuccino. Afterwards, M. shows us his city. He talks with a lot of passion about the history. I like the old stories and habits about the city. M. smiles. Proud of showing his village to us. Proud, because we like it. I smile back.
Then it’s time to say goodbye. I’m such a loser in saying goodbye, especially when you know it’s for a longer period. A hug, a kiss, and I find myself on the train again. Ready for a 6 hour train trip to Bergamo. I look at M., standing on the platform, waiting for his train to Rome. He doesn’t notice and doesn’t look at me. Then he steps on his train and disappears, in the distance.
On the train ride home, I close my eyes and try to remember the taste of salt in my mouth. I’m really tired and I don’t want to forget it so fast. I want to hold on to it a bit longer.
I smile to myself.