Kevin and I decided today would be the day we explore Bologna. This town is home to the oldest continuous operating university, starting in 1088 – yep, not a typo! This town is not in many tour books, but has a charm of it’s own. It has the small streets and tall buildings that block your phone’s GPS while you walk, it does have porticos on most streets, so you are almost always walking in the shade. Kevin commented on the graffiti and wondered if I had picked a bad part of town. Nope, it’s all like this! 😉 The streets are lined with graffiti – some pieces are pretty artistic and although we did not translate them, many seem to have political and social issue topics, which is not shocking for a college town.
The walking tour I found online turned into a scavenger hunt of sorts as landmarks we were looking for were covered (Neptune Fountain for instance) for renovation. We started the day at the two towers of Asinelli and Garisenda – towers built by individual families to protect themselves from invasion and an old school “Well, mine is bigger” display. And they do lean – more than the Tower of Pisa, but since there are so many other buildings close, it’s hard to get the tourist mainstay picture of someone trying to hold up the tower. We were welcomed to the piazza by 20 or so Polizia on Ducati motorcycles, ushering a parade (protest really) of people on scooters and bicycles. It’s interesting being a foreigner, watching that display because we had almost no clue what they were trying to communicate – until I saw a sign that referred to G7. More on that later.
The Santuario di Santa Maria della Vita is a beautiful church that served as a place of healing for many years. Church after church, it is hard to imagine the time, effort and financial resources it took to paint, sculpt and tile the buildings.
We stepped in to the University Library of Bologna to find beautifully detailed inscriptions honoring the teacher’s of the university. Lining the walls and ceilings are also coats of arms for students that attended. Can you imagine the donation the parents had to make to get their coat of arms up there! 🙂
As the day wore on, we noticed the police presence building. Polizia (local police) and Carabinieri (military police with some civilian jurisdiction) were all over. Streets became cordoned off, men (had to have been police) in plain clothes were giving instruction on walkie talkies and private security folks were talking into their wrists. There were vans and vans full of Polizia waiting for …something, with interesting wire barricades that attach to the front of their vans. This sort of police presence is not something you see every day, so we decided that with the heat, it was time to head home and not personally figure out why the police where so interested in the area. Getting home, and finally having internet, it looks like the Environment Ministerial Meeting of the G7 meeting today and tomorrow in Bologna! What are the chances? Glad our plan for the evening was to get carry out pasta from a shop down the street and drink wine at home.
Sorry for the rapid fire posts-trying to catch up from lack of internet. 2 posts on Monday should do it. If you prefer to read them in order they happened, not the order they were posted, be sure to look to the right for a listing of posts and follow the day numbers.