Bologna, the home of Bolognese sauce or as they call it “ragù alla bolognese”, is a small but beautiful city in Italy. Once desired and conquered (or sacked by ) the Papal states, Napoleon, the Visigoths, Huns and others it eventually joined the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. The town may be famous or rather the sauce, also by Italians for its many almost endless portico (arches) but it ought to be just as well known for having the oldest university in continuous operation. Or as it is rather described as having the first modern university in the world – 1088 being the year that the university of Bologna (was founded).
My host Giulia asked me why I chose to travel to Bologna.. however Bologna was just the designated point of arrival on my trip to San Marino that never materialised. I didn’t leave the arrival point. The poor weather partially to blame, but the lure of Bologna and the kindness of my host also the same.
The city is famous for its red, and orange coloured buildings, however these look more impressive from the air and the place to see them is from the highest of the two towers or Le Due Torri. There were once 180 towers or so. Each wealthy family wanting to outdo their rivals and build a bigger tower. However these hastily constructed towers did not have the best of foundations and the 3.2 lean of the smaller towers and the 1.2 of the main tower show. However it is worth ever step to go to the top and have an aerial view of Bologna, where the colour fashionable city can be admired.
There are several other surviving towers in addition.
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…
Divine Comedy, Inferno, XXXI, taken from wikipedia
On the ground acoustics can be sampled to at the … where I could hear Guilia whisper and clearly from the diagonal opposite wall.
Bologna is not just architecture, leaning towers or such. It is a university town with cafes and many museums. The Basilica di San Petronio known for its art inside is also known for being planned to be bigger than the original St Peters at the Vatican. However,its plans were put to an end when the Vatican in 1392 forced the plans to be dropped.
One attraction outside the centre is the Santuario della Madonna di San Luca believed to hold an icon painted by St Luke. With 666 steps (I don’t know why that number) of arches or steps lead to the basilica.
My trip to Bologna was made special by my kind host Giulia, her flatmates and some friends of hers. Oh and they were good at preparing food whether simple or more complex. They were Italians after all. Good food (and coffee, and Olive oil) is very important…