BOLOGNA--The winter uniform: puffy down jacket, perfectly knotted scarf, optional cap. In the damp, chilly morning, an exhaled breath hangs in the air. It is 8:15, but the Post office won't open for another five minutes.
The caffès are open, of course, selling espressos, cappuccinos, all manner of cream-filled pastries, cigarettes, and stamps. But the Post Office does more: it's also a savings bank. And a money lender. The coffee shops keep better hours, often from 6 AM until 10 PM, but they don't do credit.