The train rolled into the station somewhere around nine in the evening. My host, Chico, had suggested I take a taxi from the station to his apartment – about a ten minute ride. But what was his address? I cursed myself, how many times until I would learn to write contact information down on paper? I exited the station and crossed the road toward the lights of the shops. I had to find a Wi-Fi connection – the fountain of modern communication. Spotting a gelateria with a friendly looking girl serving ice-cream cones, I ducked inside, wearing a seductive smile.
"I am in urgent need of a Wi-Fi connection." I explained, "Can you help?"
A confused exchange ensued; broken Italian punctuated by wild gesticulations and blank stares, eventually we had an accord; I would purchase an ice-cream and she would provide a password to the Wi-Fi.
Forty eight hours earlier I had washed my passport, rendering it a pulpy, worthless document that no amount of ironing or blowdrying would fix. That same evening I was due to depart Toronto for London. The situation seemed dire, but a morning spent at the Italian consulate had produced a temporary travel document. It would get me as far as Italy, and no further. Once there I would travel to Ravenna, where my file resides, and apply for a new passport.
"Ravenna!" Enrico exclaimed, "What are you doing in Ravenna? My apartment is in Rimini, an hour further by train." I had found my hosts number on Airbnb and put in a call, only to discover I had disembarked the train an hour too soon.
"Hold on, I'll check what time the next train departs." I said, staring up at the departures board. "Looks like 11pm, arriving at midnight."
"Okay, I'll pick you up at midnight. Outside the station at Otto e mezzo" he responded.
There was nothing to do but wait. I found a Chinese restaurant serving what appeared to some fusion of Italian and Chinese cuisine. Skipping the food I ordered a couple of beers and sat at a table on the sidewalk outside. The night air was still warm and heavy, the beers, cold and wet, went down well.
When I finally arrived in Rimini, Chico was there, waiting outside Otto e mezzo. I wedged my bags onto the back seat and climbed into the passenger seat beside him. "We have to get home quick, I'm entertaining." he remarked, something about women and fewer opportunities as we get older. He stepped on the gas and propelled us into the night.
The apartment was on Via Niccolò Machiavelli, an apt address I would later conclude. A large, airy place of five rooms, each with its own unique character, and two quirky cats to round it off; a place where Chico has a photography studio, workshops, and hosts vagabonds such as myself from around the world.
Fitting into Rimini life came easy; mornings spent writing, cycling to the beach, tanning, and swimming; afternoons working on customer assignment; evenings started at Taverna I Tre Mori –red wine and crostini–before venturing to the seaside bars by bicycle. I recall now one particularly perilous journey home, the waitress had plied me with Chardonnay, resulting in my narrowly missing the fountain and, instead, careering into a patch of muddy grass.
I trip to Rimini turned into a 2 month stay–something Chico refers to as my time in limbo–during which time Rimini became more than a just another stop, another travel destination, it became a home. A place that I long to return to in the future.
This post is dedicated to all the wonderful people of Rimini: Chico, Valeria & il gatti (Gigi e Polpetta) for making it home, Sandro for the haircut (I need another), Taverna I Tre Mori for good evenings, Dalla Lella for the awesome piadina, and all the friendly people of Rimini who made me feel welcome, thank you!