946 views

Bologna Thursday — Time to reflect and consider

The rooftop of the Hotel San Donato is the perfect place to sketch — and to appreciate the ancient towers, churches, red tiles rooftops, and iron crosses that stretch out in waves. We don’t have much time left in this beautiful city, so we need to make the most of our day. Taken in toto, the city’s beauty is clear. But every building is made up of many small details, each worth studying just for the time, attention, and aesthetic spirit it took to create it. It’s clear that Italians understand beauty.

 

The towers of Bologna

Although Bologna is known as the city of porticos (which it clearly is), the towers are a big part of what gives it its unique character, especially the famous Two Towers, which lean into each other — the Asinelli Tower and the Garisenda Tower. In the 13th century, word has it there were as many as 100 towers. Even Dante was inspired to cite a Bologna tower in the Divine Comedy, Inferno: “As when one sees the tower called Garisenda, from underneath its leaning side, and then a cloud passes over, and it seems to lean the more, thus did Antaeus seem to my fixed gaze as I watched him bend…” Now, there are less than twenty left standing. The towers were important for military defense and for signaling, and an individual tower’s height corresponded to the prestige of the noble family who built it. It appears, from the size of the entrance holes, that one would have to be very skinny, sans armor and pretty fearless to get inside. Beyond admiring them, we use the Two Towers to help us find both our hotel and the best gelato shop in the city.

 

Wonders from the past:
the Archaeological City Museum

For a true look at the history of Bologna, visit this remarkable museum, which covers the history of the city from prehistoric times to the Roman era. Also included is an extensive and fascinating Egyptian collection, considered one of the most important in Europe. The museum is housed in the ancient St. Mary of Death Hospital, a 15th century building. The exhibits that show Etruscan culture are remarkable, for their age, the precise way in which they have been curated and are displayed, and for the objects themselves. Somehow, you don’t think of people who lived a bajillion years ago wearing fancy jewelry and tiny buttons and swag made from copper, but they did.

 

Bologna Thursday

We get a personal tour from an extremely helpful and adorable young man who helps us understand some of the exhibits as the signage is all in Italian, and our Italian is vestigial at best. Carla and Liz are fascinated with the cases of ushabti, tiny figurines found in graves where they were placed as minions for the deceased. If you are dead already, it probably doesn’t matter that your minions are made of stone, as long as they are pretty.

 

Bar snacks and street life

Tired from touring and absorbing new things in a foreign tongue, we stop at a local bar for snacks and a beverage. Liz orders something that comes in a fruit jar and is very cute, but tastes like potato and art gum eraser soup. We stare at the locals and try not to be too annoying. On the walk back to the hotel, we find the exit from the underground canal, which was something we were excited about touring until we found out it’s kind of like floating in a big tea cup in the sewer. Plus, you can only do it on Sunday, which relieves us of the tension of having to decide not to do it.

 

Dinner at the Incrocio Montegrappa Ristorante

Incrocio Montegrappa Ristorante

It’s our last night together, so Carla and Les are our hosts for dinner. Les chooses well, finding the Incrocio Montegrappe Ristorante, where the food is spectacular, the decor is bright and cheerful, and the proprietors are twin sisters who know how to make their guests feel welcome. We talk them into letting us take their picture, and they gracefully agree. We finish off with the house-made limoncello (yum), and take our final stroll together back through the night-time porticos, past our two personal leaning towers, and the statue of St. Petronio, who seems to nod as we pass by.

Ristorante Pizzeria Incrocio Montegrappa (Via Monte Grappa, 7, 40121 Bologna)

 

Click on any photo below for full screen slideshow.SWIPE or use spacebar to PLAY/PAUSE.


Bologna Thursday — Time To Reflect And Consider

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

 

Please leave a comment!

Comments are closed.