Bologna · Italy

Definitely not Venice …

… but Bologna has its own canals. You have to go hunting for them as they’re hidden away and off the beaten track, but they’re there.

This is our last full day in Bologna. We made our way through the crowds in Piazza Maggiore–there was a run-for-breast-cancer event on this morning–and then strolled through the back streets searching for the remnants of the canals that once supplied Bologna with water.

Late morning found us in the shade of a street cafe with a couple of cappuccinos biding our time until lunch. We’d noticed a nice little restaurant in the back streets earlier on, so we made our way back there for our first authentic pizza– a salsiccia pizza, tomato, cheese, and sausage. Despite appearances …

… we didn’t have long to wait.

Here it is, or rather, was:

After lunch, we were happy to find the Basilica di Santo Stefano open, and we spent the next hour or so exploring this four-in-one church, which in its 2000 year history has been influenced by Romans, ancient Christians, Byzantines, and Ottomans. It’s one of the most church-like churches we’ve visited in Italy so far.

The church cat seemed to think so too.

Tomorrow we turn south again and take the regional train to Florence. We’re looking forward to seeing that storied city, but it will be hard to beat Bologna 🙂

Bologna · Italy

Rest day

It was another hot day in Bologna. We ventured out this morning and happened upon a nice hidden gem–a museum of medieval Bologna with some amazing exhibits from private collections.

Earlier, in a chapel of the Cathedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro, we listened in on a priest celebrating Mass with a small congregation.

And instead of joining the luncheoners in the street cafes today, we picked up some bread, cheese, yoghurt, and fruit and headed back to the cool of the B&B. And after lunch, a long nap.

This evening we had lasagna and gnocchi for supper and we’ve now eaten so much pasta that we should both be speaking fluent Italian. That’s how it should work, anyway.

Here are the Two Towers of Bologna, as seen from the spiral staircase leading to our B&B earlier this evening.

Bologna · Italy

Cannolis, dissections, and fountain pens

I’m posting a little earlier today. It’s about tea time here, so on the way back to our room for a rest, we picked up some cannolis and we’re having them with some Earl Grey tea, hot. The items you see in the next picture no longer exist.

Our route today, although ostensibly from interesting thing to see to interesting thing to see, was really from coffee shop to restaurant to bakery with interesting things to see in between.

For lunch today we shared a selection of cold cuts, cheese, and jam–not sure how we were supposed to eat the jam.

As with the cannolis, the items you see in the photo above, except perhaps for the jam, no longer exist, but during their last hours, we were visiting some of the buildings that for the last 930 years have belonged to the oldest university in Europe. This lecture room is still in use today.

Here are some of the books that line the walls, along with a recognizable name or two:

And here’s a view into the main library:

As well as the lecture room above, the lecture theatre for the empirical teaching of anatomy was also open–an oak panelled room with seating on all sides overlooking a marble dissection table in middle of the room. Some statues of great names in the field of medicine, including Galen and Paracelsus still look down on today’s proceedings–just visitors to the university these days, no more dissections.

Between the university and lunch, it was my turn to be lured by sirens, in my case they took the form of fountain pens. This grey beauty was designed and made by Pineider in Florence, a pen maker since the late eighteenth century. It has a resin body, a fine rhodium-plated steel nib, and a magnetic closure. The ring is engraved with the skyline of Florence and the marine-steel clip looks like a quill. Oh yes, and filled with Aurora blue-black ink, it writes very smoothly :-).

It’s a bit early to be thinking about supper, but it will be hard to beat what we had last night–tagliatelle with ragu (the real name for Bolognese meat sauce), tagliatelle culatello (black ham), and tiramisu. Something a little simpler tonight, I think.

Bologna · Italy

Time travel

We’re in Bologna–wow! End of post.

Well, perhaps a few more words to describe the day, which started off at 10:00 this morning at Termini station in Rome. Four and a quarter hours later, we were back in late medieval Bologna. See the three little windows on the side of the building? That’s us.

Here’s how we get up there:

And here’s the view:

We haven’t seen much of the city yet, but what we’ve seen so far is beautiful. On our first recce along polished mosaic stone sidewalks with painted vaulted ceilings, we passed no less than three pen shops, a book binder, and a grocery store. The cheese and yoghurt sirens were too much for Trish, and we spent ten minutes browsing in the cool–not a wise thing to do when you’re hungry.

On the way back to our room, we had the best ice cream we’ve ever tasted–mine was lemon-ginger, and Letitia chose banana. And this was before we’ve had a chance to taste the Vivoli ice cream in Florence. We’ve been assured that’s the best in Italy.

Now it’s time to start thinking about where to go for dinner.