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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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October 09, 2010

Bologna - It's Not Just an American Lunchmeat Anymore!

Where to begin with Bologna?  When I arrived on Tuesday and took my first walk to find some food and see what I could see, I got quite grumpy because I couldn't tell what anything I was seeing was, everything I was seeing seemed to be covered with construction plastic, the Piazza Maggiore which is the center of all activity in the city, was in the midst of some great upheaval with scaffolding being torn down, great heaps of trash being swept up, and most of the center of the square blocked off, making it pretty much impossible to get far enough away from the buildings facing the square to take decent pictures.  I did manage to figure out that they must have had some major event Sunday or Monday and were now cleaning things up so told myself that it should be better on Wednesday.  So, thanks heavens all the more for my room cause I just didn't know quite what to think about the city itself.

But Wednesday morning, after a good sleep, a nice breakfast and some talk with Maria about walks I could take, I decided that I would walk up one of the two walks she told me about (letting me know that they were steep, but, hey - I can take it, right?) and get a beautiful view of the city.  So armed with the map she also gave me I set out.

It wasn't long before I came to this church (there are a huge number of churches in Bologna!) and I was really taken with the surface on the top of the building.  Looking at the picture, I'd guess those are either bricks or stones set in at that angle, but however they did it, the effect is really striking.

And this pretty much the entire front of the church...

The door of the church which I also really liked - lots of little figures to make you wonder what they represent.

Just a close-up of the figures.

Still nice, flat walking and here was a pretty building with a very pretty little garden in front - a fountain, a fruit tree, real inviting.

I don't know what these are - not apples.  Their leaf is kind of like a peach, but I think not exactly.  But whatever, they're pretty. :)

And this was another church - a huge one!  This was right before I turned on to the street that would take me up to the views.

And it was a beautiful morning for a walk and it was a beautiful walk, abeit incredibly steep once it started uphill.  I truly didn't know if I was going to make it.  Plus which I truly didn't know if I was where I was supposed to be.  I had been able to follow the map through town to where I got on the road I wanted and started up.  And after that, I saw ONE sign that was for a place mentioned on the map as being one of the things I was supposed to see on this walk. 

This was the sign and the words Villa Baruzziana were on my maps little guide thing.  It was shown as #9.  #10 would be the Villa Aldini, also listed for this street, and my goal was #11 listed as the Chiesa dell'Osservanza.  So, keep all that in mind...

I kept looking for the next villa with a sign and I kept hoping to see a sign saying "yes, Mary Lynne, the church is just up ahead" but I never did.  I did pass one more sign pointing up a road and that sign said a big, long name starting with Rotunda something and I think included the word Madonna too, although by then, being half dead, I didn't take much note of it cause it wasn't mentioned on my map for the itinerary I was following.

Being half dead, I was glad of a nice view to stop and take a picture of - a good excuse to quit climbing uphill for a bit.  I want you to look real hard at the distant center.  Those buildings are Bologna on its nice flat ground and, of course, I didn't have to walk all the way from where those buildings are, but I had to walk all that way up - the buildings were down there, I was up here (and still going with still no signage).

Not very long after that I got to a church (although it may not be used as that anymore, I'm not sure - probably is actually) and I panted my way up to the sign on the building which said Chiesa something, something, something and UNDERNEATH that were the words detta Obsservanza.  So I assumed that was what I had climbed the mountain for and was quite disappointed because the views from there were not really very good.  And I didn't take any pictures of it because at that point, I wasn't in a picture-taking mood!  After catching my breath for a bit and wishing Bologna made a better map, I started down and soon came to the Rotunda sign.  I thought "well, maybe there might be a view up there" and started up that road.  And as I approached a very large, old building, a car pulled up, a girl got out and I said "where in the world am I?" or words to that effect.  She told me this was the Villa Aldini, remember that name?  That was one of the three things the map said I would see.  I really wonder why they wouldn't have the Rotunda sign say Villa Aldini or, as an alternative, have the map say the Rotunda name.   But, there I was and the view was much better so I took some pictures and decided probably I would survive it all. :)

This was the ceiling over the front entry hall of the Villa.   The girl explained that the villa is falling into disrepair (and that was obvious) and is being used as offices for some charitable organization while the owners try to get it taken over by whatever foundation it is that restores historic buildings.  It was, incredibly enough, a home at one time and must have been absolutely gorgeous.

This was a nice view although hazy for a photograph.  Those two towers to the right of center are called, surprisingly enough, the Two Towers.  The tall one is, I think the tallest one in the city (and I'm pretty sure there are still about 20 of these towers still standing).  The other one was taller but you can see it's leaning and so at some point a long time ago they cut off a good portion of the top.  Poor little stump...   Oh, and I've been trying to find the building that has that dome ever since I got here - when I'm in the Piazza Maggiore, it looks like is directly behind one of the buildings there but when I went looking it wasn't.

A long way back down...

So feeling much better, but still wishing Bologna had a little better system of guiding tourists, I started down and that was quite pleasant.  Still a gorgeous day and downhill!  For quite a while I could hear a group of children yelling away like groups of children playing do.  I figured there must be a school somewhere and the kids were out for recess.  It kept getting more direct and I started peeking through the very heavy tree cover to see if I could ever discover them and I did!  This picture was taken at my 4x zoom and then I cropped and cropped the photo to make the center really pop out and you can just make out the kids.  I love hunting something down.

Then just a few pictures taken on the rest of the way down:

Another church and a beautiful one...

My fauna for the day...

Getting close now, but you can see that fence is still going down and down.

I found this building interesting, because as I walked through Bologna I had been thinking that surely these 1300/1400 buildings hadn't always been covered with stucco and here was this building with some of the original brickwork showing through the stucco that had been applied.  This was done intentionally and I think it's a really neat idea.  And here's one more for good measure:

The last picture from my walk - there seems to be a picture-worthy building on just about every corner!

By the time I got down into the city again, I was ready to eat!  So I found a nice spot and got myself filled up some and then went on back to my room.  At some point in the early evening I went back out again and got a few pictures while walking around the Piazza Maggiore area (which was all cleaned up today just like I hoped it would be).  So here they are (and I have to confess, I'm not including the ones that I took while actually in the Piazza Maggiore - I can't seem to get a decent picture there.  The buildings are massive so you have to be far away and then it's always very busy there - it really is the gathering place for everyone.

The courtyard of a place I think I'll visit tomorrow.

A gorgeous portico ceiling - some are very nice like this, others very plain

A pretty building glowing in the evening

 and one of the pretty windows in that building.

And another pretty building that was a much prettier golden color than I could get in the picture.  And I do wonder what that yellow paint's all about.

And that is it for Wednesday.  Bologna is growing on me and I think I probably just need to write a guidebook for the city which would, of course, mean a lot of trips back until I finally figured out where things are!


January said...

That was some insane hike! I love the picture of the church in the trees on your way back down, and that beautiful ceiling! You sure are one globe-trottin' mama!

Christopher said...

What a hiker you are! Quite an impressive hill to eventually crest. Glad to hear you got the Internet sorted out too! Enjoy the city---looking forward to more!

Christopher said...

...also, I wonder---if that church with the bricks set funny---perhaps that was done, anticipating that the rest of the front would be faced in marble, and that technique would serve as a better anchor base for mortar, whatever... and then never got finished... Very curious!

Hi! said...

I don't think that's probably the case, Chris because a lot of churches I've seen (including the biggest cathedral here in Piazza Maggiore) were meant to be gorgeous marble and aren't. And with the cathedral here, there's the marble partway up and then the rest of the way up is just plain block. Apparently, the Pope heard that the plans for this cathedral were that it be greater than St. Peter's and he said "no" and that was that!

jamie said...

Love, love, love the photos! And the little purple flower is gorgeous. Your new camera is sure doing a great job!

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