After an intensive training week at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center the time arrived to say goodbye to all newly acquired friends and start the journey to Italy.
Me and Cem took a taxi to Barcelona-El Prat Airport because no public transport was available at the time. After a pleasant flight I was shocked by the temperature at the Bologna Airport. Because of the continental climate, the temperatures reached 38°C. When we arrived in the city center, Cem realized that he had forgotten his phone at the airport. He went back to find his phone, while I found a nice Italian bar and waited there until my colleague arrived. Then we both headed to a small city of Casalecchio di Reno, where the Italian supercomputing center CINECA is located. We took our keys of the apartment at CINECA and used a taxi to reach our final destination. Surprisingly for both of us was that the apartment was huge and could easily accommodate six people. So we had luxury to choose the best rooms, disadvantage of the apartment was that it did not have air conditioning. And you really want to have air conditioning in Italy.
During our first weekend in Bologna we were impressed by the cultural and historical heritage of this important ancient and medieval city. During medieval period, Bologna was 5th largest city in the world and very rich. That is the reason why so many monuments and palaces are scattered around the city. The most famous is the Two Towers (Due Torri) that are around 900 years old and are the icon of the city. The highest one with 97 meters was made by a rich merchant family Asinelli and the lower one by the Garisenda family. You can also go to the top of the tower from where beautiful cityscape of Bologna reveals. The biggest square in the city is called Piazza Maggiore and it hosts special event – Cinema Beneath the Stars. During hot summer nights movies are projected on the huge screen. It was a perfect place to watch the movie Gravity. Bologna is also the home of the oldest university in the western hemisphere. Università di Bologna was founded in 1088 and is still one of the most important universities in Italy. Many students live in Bologna and consequentially, the nightlife is very lively in the university district. You can attend parties, dance or just listen to the music in one of the ancient squares.
Modena was our destination in the second week. It is a pleasant city very famous for its balsamic vinegar, birthplace of opera singer Pavarotti and after all the most famous car bran in the world – Ferrari. There is a lot to see and taste in Modena. Tourist can wander around very picturesque ancient streets and visit beautiful Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pomposa which is also UNESCO World Heritage Site. Me and Cem decided to visit the Museum Enzo Ferrari, which is dedicated to the founder of this famous company. Visitors can see the engine exposition and be astounded by the car hall, where all the best Ferraris of the era are displayed. We could even see the most powerful Ferrari to date, a 900 horsepower monster with a strange name – La Ferrari. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit one of the vinegar production places, but it would certainly be a nice experience.
After my birthday, I decided to join my roommate in Rome. I decided to use BlaBlaCar, which was a good decision since it is cheap and reasonably fast. What can one say about the city which holds the title of The Eternal City? It is a dream for tourists that love discovering not only new places, but also history. You cannot miss the fact that Rome was once capital of the Roman Empire and a lot of buildings shine in all their glory even after 2000 years. It is really fascinating, like using time machine when you stay under Colosseum or enter the Pantheon. Rome is also a place for a country within a country. Vatican City State is the smallest country in the world and residing place of the pope. It is quite majestic experience to stand on the St. Peter’s square and look at the St. Peter’s Basilica. A lot of tourists also visit Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, but unfortunately my time was limited there. During the evenings and the nights a lot of people gather on the many renaissance public squares or just sit besides river Tiber and have a drink.
My project is taking place at CINECA, which is Italy’s supercomputing center. The institute consists of 700 researchers and other working staff that use three main computers for their work. They are called Fermi, Galileo and Pico. Their names are associated with very famous Italian philosophers and physicists. I have two mentors for my project that I regularly consult with. One is responsible for software and supercomputing and the other one for data interpretation and physical background. So far I had very pleasant experience with the people I work with and also the project, which I enjoy very much.