Saturday, August 8, 2009

Why in the world Bologna ?

Ten years ago Bill and I spent two weeks in Italy. I had lived in Florence many years before that and on this, my second trip to Italy, Bill’s first, I never tired of saying that I was going to show him “My Italy !” It was actually Bill’s little phrase, and we loved to pair it with a dramatic gesture when, say, we were waiting for an hour at the bank. On our trip we hit the major cities: Milan, Florence, Rome, Venice. Although we also visited Bologna and Vicenza, our itinerary was a typical one. We took the trip that everybody took. Not that I’m complaining. When we returned and friends would ask which places we visited, I would tell them that we found a wonderful, little, out-of-the-way city that had…get this…WATER INSTEAD OF STREETS !! When they would tell me (as invariably they would) that they too had been to Venice I would exclaim in disbelief, “WHAT ? You‘ve been there too ? That is so amazing ! However did you come across it ?” Pretty quickly people stopped asking me about our vacation.

This trip is different because Bologna is a city less travelled; unless you have been there, you probably do not have a ready mental image of it. The due torri (two towers) simply do not have the worldwide recognition of other, more famous tall edifices. Handsome though they are, I have never seen paperweight versions of Bologna’s towers in anyone’s home although I can think of several who employ miniature Eiffel Towers in just this capacity.

Certainly Bologna’s architecture, with its miles of porticos, is beautiful and it is a great walking city. It also has great food and a prestigious university. What it does not have, which to me is a real plus, is a great museum. Well, I’m sure it has some darned fine museums, although I don’t remember them. But there is no Uffizi , no Vatican Galleries to make the city a “required” stop. The difference between Bologna and Florence was obvious to me when I was there. Most noticeably, we didn’t come across people waiting in lines to see things. And if, for argument’s sake, there is less to see, I don’t think I’ll miss it.

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