Bologna 2008

Rosemary's Travel Diary

Once in Bologna, we had a very hard time getting to our hotel. Jane kept trying to get us to go the wrong way down one-way streets, and we couldn't find an alternative. No matter where we turned, the streets went the wrong way. At one point we could actually see the hotel just a couple of blocks away, but we couldn't drive there. Finally, Steve parked the car and I walked to the hotel. They explained that people with satellite systems have been having lots of trouble because all the one-way streets in the area have recently been switched, but the systems don't know it yet. A very nice hotel employee walked back with me and rode with us so that we could find the only street that would get us where we were going.

We had dinner at the home of Brownlee and Heather, Americans who now live in Italy with their young son, who is already fluent in Italian. They had invited another couple and Heather had put together a delicious array of dishes from the local markets, giving us a sample of real life in Bologna. We spent an interesting evening discussing politics, the music business, literature, food, Italian lessons and traffic.

Sidewalk in Bologna
Sun - We started the day with a visit to the nearest self-service laundry. It was easy to use but seemed expensive: 3.50E for a tiny washload, and another 3.00E for 20 minutes in the dryer. A lot of people just do their washing and take everything home wet to hang it outside. While we were waiting I went to the bar next door and ordered a caffe americano. It was the best cup of coffee I've had so far on this trip. The bartender did it right, putting the standard thimbleful of espresso in the bottom of a good-sized cup, with a little pot of hot water on the side so I could dilute it to my own taste.

We walked to Piazza Maggiore. It's Sunday, so the markets and shops were closed, but around the piazza where tourists roam some of the expensive fashion boutiques were open. This would be a great place to buy some beautiful handbags, but the dollar is weak and I don't have room in my suitcase. [Steve: Good planning on my part to pack light.]

The Basilica of San Petronio is the fifth-largest church in the world. Construction began in 1390 and, as usual, continued for centuries. A revised plan in the early 1500s would have made this church larger than St. Peter's in Rome. The pope simply blocked its expansion by building Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio next door. The palazzo was used by the University of Bologna and now houses the city's huge public library. The church remains unfinished on that side, with rough-looking stonework and bricked-up archways.

Oddly, it's a parking lot
Bologna is known for its miles of colonnades, which give the city a distinctive appearance. These walkways are wide and well protected from both sun and rain, making life just a little harder for the umbrella vendors. Strolling through town, we saw memorials, statues and plaques commemorating many of the famous historical and cultural figures who have lived and worked here, including citizens who died during WWII as part of the Resistance. We visited the church of San Domenica, which houses the remains of the founder of the Dominican order.

We had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant recommended by our hotel, and, of course, gelato afterwards.

Mon - It is pollen season in Bologna. We have seen clouds of the stuff carried through the streets on the wind, and as we drove out of town this morning I noticed piles of it like snowdrifts beside the road. I'm not usually allergic, but my throat has been a bit scratchy. I am hoping for relief as we move north.

Bologna's miles of arcades are pleasant places to stroll.

Guido Reni's portrayal of St. Dominic in a chapel within the Basilica of San Dominico.

Next to Piazza Maggiore is Piazza Nettuno, which showcases
the Fountain of Neptune, built in the mid-16th century.

Construction stopped abruptly on this side of the church of
San Petronio. It looks almost as though it had been sliced off.

The rough interior of an unfinished wall is exposed.

Needs paint
A window overlooking the street.

Sheltered by a memorial to the Resistance, a couple of punks
enjoy a snack while the old men study the faces of the dead.

Interior of the Basilica of San Petronio.

Looking up inside the church of San Domenico.

The young Michelangelo carved this candleholder for the shrine of San Domenico.

On the streets:


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