We have arrived in Zingonia. The group is composed of 6 Italian students from the University of Bologna, 2 Norwegian students from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and me — some hippie dippie from the U of O.Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.04.02 PMBefore!Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.04.14 PMAfter! [The green is Zingonia’s plan]

This is not your picturesque Italy. It is a ‘new town’, superimposed upon agricultural fields, in the middle of five smaller medieval towns, during the top-down Italian planning phase of the 1960s and ’70s. The job growth has outgrown its population, and it is now one of the most diverse places in Italy, with about 77% of its residents having immigrated from India, Pakistan, several countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, and South America.

People come to Zingonia for the jobs, but the housing market and urban design do not support a vibrant culture or urban life. While some of my commentary may seem sarcastic, and the pictures may look grim, the residents love and embrace Zingonia for its multicultural makeup, its parks, and the history they have here.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAPiazza Affari, the focus of our study.

After its construction, it was renown for its piano bars and ‘American style’ of recreation and shopping. Now it is host to drug activity and prostitution — which I witnessed in action on my morning run!GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe Palace Hotel, our residence for the next week. Isn’t modernism lovely?

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe missile fountain — the entry point to Zingonia.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe towers at the other end of town, near the fountain; some do not have running water or sewer.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe industrial warehouses which are plentiful across the southern portion of the town charmed me with their color and form.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe nearby town of Verdellino has more conventionally Italian charm.GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAAnd American phone covers for days.

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