Padova isn’t a big, or particularly important city in Italy, but I still have a much greater feeling of “being somewhere” than in Eugene. Today I got a nice confirmation of that, out of the blue. I was running late for work, having gone to get a haircut and to the post office. It had started snowing, and I was walking towards our car, down Corso Milano, when I saw a crowd, police cars, and traffic backed up. I thought to myself “uh oh, what did they do now?!”. I often think the worst of people’s driving here, and they often confirm my suspicions.
Today, that wasn’t the case – no smashed up scooter, cars or cyclist, but rather, some sort of procession. A few publicity vans go by, with people throwing knick-knacks (or ‘gadgets’, as the Italians inexplicably call them) to the crowd that had formed, and then out of the swirling snow, accompanied by a swarm of motorcycle policeman, came a runner carrying the olympic torch! I couldn’t help but stop and clap myself, and feel a lot more of the “olympic spirit” (ok, it sounds corny, but it was a surprisingly stirring moment) than I ever did the numerous times the games have been in the US. Padova isn’t really that close to Turin, but I suddenly felt a lot closer than I ever did to the games when they were in LA, Atlanta or Salt Lake City.