You can always stumble into something in Bologna if you are open to the experience. For me, I am not the type that gets fulfillment out of visiting museums and the likes. Maybe it’s my lack of intellect or my inability to focus for long periods of time, or short periods of time for that matter. I really admire people with the knowledge and the understanding of the renaissance period or any period. I look at a painting and either like it or don’t. I either see my own conceived meaning of it or grasp nothing at the moment. Sometimes later in life, maybe years or days or hours from the viewing, it hits me. “Oh, that’s what that meant”.
I am a touch person. Meeting others with a handshake or even a hug is energizing. Food has always been more than a necessity for me, but a time of gathering, meeting new people, conversing and sharing a piece of oneself with those at the table. There is no other place on the planet like Bologna that mixes friendly, genuine people with food that is so beyond art, it is downright satiating and leaves one wanting much more. They take their food seriously, and interactions with any Bolognian can be quite, well, inviting.
In Bologna not much English is spoken, which means not many tourists from English-speaking countries. Don’t take that wrong, because most Bolognians will help you along with understanding, even if it is mimicking that solves the gap. Bologna has numerous nicknames that come from different perspectives depending upon whom you run across. Labels like the red city for the commune side and also for the red clay roofs, the fat city for the food side, and the learned city for seating one of the oldest universities in Europe are all options. It’s said that Bologna is well situated for any visits to Northern Italy, as all roads and trains lead to Bologna.
Inside the Commune di Bologna, Piazza Maggiore is at the center. All roads, some the size of medieval horse trails extend out from the Piazza like spokes on a bicycle wheel. It is a hybrid road system mixed with a Roman grid. Stumbling around the city into the market area, vendors of fresh fruits, flowers, meats and fishes display their products simply and easily identifiable. In translation, the whole fish, octopus, squid of all sizes, shrimps, and other crustaceans of the sea can be easily documented. At first one might think that the smell of fish in the market would be overbearing, but we are talking fresh fish here, and fresh fish has very little smell. Wedged between a fish market and meat market is a florist, fresh fruit vendor and fresh vegetable merchant. This is a place where strawberries taste like strawberries.
Elsewhere in the Piazza, if you are lucky enough, you may catch a small concert by an extremely talented musician. His instrument of choice is a homemade xylophone of perfectly tuned bottles filled to various levels. The bottles formerly contained beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages. The question is, who first emptied the bottles? He plays an outstanding Flight of the Bumble Bee.
Leaving one end of the Piazza Maggiore is the Piazza Del Neptune with none other than a monstrous size Fountain of Neptune surrounded by maidens and other fishes of the sea. As is typical in Italian art, nudity is not an issue. Legend has it, that good old Neptune was covered up during the days of the reigning Pope and his assigned Cardinal because women were found swooning over the statue. It was Napoleon who stripped Neptune of his loin cloth, apparently made of bronze, because Napoleon needed ammunition to continue his conquering ways.
The Piazza is flanked by the striking Palazzo d’Accursio or City Hall. Inside, one can visit Red Hall, named as such for the color of the magnificent tapestry wall coverings. A view from the balcony, extends throughout the Piazza.
After leaving Red Hall and taking more photos of naked Neptune, and did I mention his nude maidens too, it is time to stroll down the Via dell’Indepencia, Neptune’s bare buttocks points the way, a striking figure I might add. One can continue meandering along the Via Rizzoli and the Via Ugo Bassi, visiting the multiple designer stores along the way. This is Italian fine shopping. Along this way one can see superbly dressed locals wearing suits and elegant dresses mixing with students and casual strollers.
The magnificent Porticoes of Bologna with their prominent architecture and towering arches shelter your way from the sun or the rain. Built out of need, the porticoes resulted from Bologna’s limited land constraints as a walled city. In order to gain more living quarters without losing walkways or roads, the ground floor became the covered walkway, and the floors above could be used for living or workspaces.
On the way pass-by the leaning tower of Bologna. Yes, Bologna has one too. It happens to be next to the taller tower that is not so leaning.
While it is important to plan some things, it is also essential to just stumble around, wander, explore, and open yourself up to whatever experience presents itself. The food smells will pick you up off your feet and carry you into one great place after another. The friendliness is, again, incredible.
For more information visit: www.bolognawelcome.it