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Beautiful Bologna

map bologna

Friday morning we left Venice and took a train down to Bologna.  In our planning, we could have continued straight to Florence, which is our next “real” stop on our trip, but we had heard so many good things about Bologna.  We decided to make a 24 hour layover.  I’m sure glad we did.  It’s beautiful.

Since we have limited time here before we get back on a train this morning, I am going to keep this post pretty simple…not a lot of descriptions, just mainly the photos I took yesterday while we explored the city.  We managed to do a lot in a matter of hours:

1– We climbed up the 320 foot Asinelli Tower…which is 498 stairs up and another 498 stairs DOWN.  These are not code-approved, comfortable stairs.  These stairs are over 800 years old…they are wood, they are rickety and they are steep.  I can’t even believe that the government officials let people climb them.  Only one person can pass at a time, so if you are coming down, you have to wait for the person coming up, or vice versa.   I still can’t get over how old the tower and stairs are…and the fact that I climbed them.  Coming down was pretty dreadful for me (Josette & Lena were fine).

FYI, the towers were built by the Asinelli family between 1109 and 1119…and at one time Bologna had 180 of these towers.  During medieval times, Bologna must have looked like the skyline of New York City.  The towers were apparently built for defensive purposes and as a way for rich families to show that they could afford to build such formidable structures.   There was an AMAZING view from the top.

2– We went into several churches, including the Basilica of San Petronio, begun in 1390.  There was an organ concert at the time we were there, so it made it even more special.  And later in the day,  we happened upon the gorgeous OLD church complex of Santo Stefano which is made up of 7 little churches dating from the 4th century up to the 13th century!!!  This was one of the most tranquil and beautiful places we’ve seen so far.

3– We walked thru some of the 24 miles of loggias (arched/covered sidewalks) in medieval Bologna.  It’s amazing that you can walk forever, covered from the sun (or rain) by these gorgeous old loggias.  They give a unique look to Bologna.

4– We did as the Italians and had our pre-dinner appertivo on the Piazza San Stefano. If you order a drink (we ordered prosecco and compari) they bring you free food to nosh on.  This was one of the best end of the day moments of the trip.

5– And we had one of our favorite meals (so far) at a little family trattoria.  Just good, simple Bolognese style food.  The pasta melted in your mouth and the sauce was out of this world.  Josette got this pasta called Gramigna alla salsiccia, which is short curled pasta topped with sausage ragu…a the specialty of Bologna and something I’ve never seen even in NYC.  Out of this world good.  Lena had tortellini en broddo…(in a broth– the traditional way eaten in northern Italy).

With that, the rest of today’s post is 100% visual…showing you what was described above.  We are so glad we stopped over in Bologna…it is a wonderful city.

As I said…Bologna is really a beautiful city.  I wish we had more time to explore.  Tomorrow we leave for 5 days in Florence! See you there.

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