|About the Book|
This book is the description of a personal journey via South Africa to an academic sabbatical sojourn in the cities of Bologna and Modena in the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy. The book has evolved out of the compilation of a sequential diary ofMoreThis book is the description of a personal journey via South Africa to an academic sabbatical sojourn in the cities of Bologna and Modena in the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy. The book has evolved out of the compilation of a sequential diary of this journey. Within the text I am trying to relate not only my personal experiences but how I saw the multitude of social, economic and bureaucratic interactions that makes living in central Italy so wonderful, but innately frustrating.Based on my extended experiences in Africa working on AIDS programs as a physician my pre-Italian experiences provided me with the opportunity to comment through my visions of the world upon some of the important social issues.I began my experiences with the Italian bureaucracy in Tasmania and Melbourne while I prepared for my sabbatical at Modena University, long before I arrived in Italy with my wife. It was here I had to obtain the first of the multitude of documents that are essential to function as an employee in Italy. These initial documents were the Schengan visa and a Nulla Osta.Over time I observed and experienced how the Italian bureaucracy an create quivering wrecks of grown women and men who would normally hold audiences in the palms of their hands.As a resident in Bologna this meant I was taking a daily trip by train to Modena and within the hustle and bustle of train platforms, almost non-decipherable public address systems and crowded buses, I was forced with my limited Italian to get to the right place at the right time on the correct train.I saw how the influence of social class and the “friend of a friend” (l’amico dell’amico) phenomenon and the wearing of suits and ties allowed me to bypass, overcome and also fail to overcome Italian administrative speed bumps.I have felt the generosity of spirit of the Italians in welcoming us into the intimacy of their commercial lives such as restaurants and markets and coming to our assistance when in distress (e.g. when my wife was trapped on a train).Despite these barriers I became employed within the Italian health system with a genuine “codice fiscale” (work number) and as a couple we immersed ourselves in the food and culture of Italy which was defined to me by a friend as the “birthplace of modern civilisation”.In this book I document how I have experienced the joys of attaining a childhood dream in the partial acquisition of a second language and to function with that skill in the country of its origin. I truly am experiencing a fortunate life.