I am adept at getting lost.
Sometimes it is intentional: picking streets at random to discover what hides beyond the corners. Most of the time, though, it is not premeditated.
I recently got lost while leaving an apartment viewing. By the second left I was hopelessly lost and hastily walking through alleys in a corner of the city trying to make my way back to the center.
I get lost in a myriad of ways. I have been lost on buses, once riding a Bloomington bus to its ultimate stop somewhere outside of town before the bus driver offered me help. I have been lost on trains, taking my brother and I to a stop thirty minutes out of our way and walking along the highway to ask for directions.
I would be an incredible orienteer. I do it on a regular basis.
Getting lost is a good way of getting to know a place, though. While desperately looking for recognizable landmarks, you notice things you might otherwise not have. I have discovered Ferrari and Lambourghini shops, the Caribinieri (military police) and Polizia (police) stations, three different hospitals, a shoe shop where they tan their own hides, a pizza-kebab restaurant, and multiple offices of the Comune (Commune) of Bologna.
Bologna is a good place to be lost in. The city has grown and is centered about its Centro Storico (Historical Center), creating a pocket of ancient buildings and architecture ringed by progressively more modern buildings. As long as you head towards older buildings, you are usually headed in the right direction. Eventually I come across something strangely familiar; sometimes it is helpful, sometimes a voice in my head exclaims “Because we’ve been here before. We’re going in circles!”
Another fantastic landmark is the Due Torre (the Two Towers). They stand in the center, near Piazza Maggiore (Major Plaza), dominating the skies and calling all the lost Erasmus (exchange student) souls to them. It is a comfort to see them and to get a grasp on the general direction of the Centro Storico.
Getting lost helps me learn the way. Once I have figured out a way, it is embedded in my memory. To return to the hotel from Piazza Maggiore, I walked straight past the McDonald’s, took a right when a banner exclaims “DIANA,” a left at Via Malcontenti which means “Road of the Discontented,” another right at an erotic boutique, and straight on to the neon sign of Hotel Holiday. So, no matter how lost I have been, I always make it back.