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Saturday, 01 May 2021

Slow Traveling in Emilia Romagna, Italy - Page 4

Written by Russ & Emily Firlik
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A 40 minute drive to Bologna, the culinary capital of the region. Architecturally, Bologna offers Medieval, Romanesque, Renaissance palazzi, an energy filled university district, two leaning towers, cafes, shopping (if you're into expensive shopping), cultural, museums, arts and history. There is no other city in the world that has more porticoes (loggia) than Bologna, and within the city center it's some 38 km long; you don’t have to let the rain or overbearing sun hinder your walking. We had been to Bologna several times, but long ago. We took the Hop-On-Off bus to get an orientation in this fantastic city. There are churches, parks, medieval buildings, history and beauty. We also did several diversionary walking tours in case we missed anything.



There is easy parking at the many car parks just outside the city center. The Piazza Maggiore places us in the historical center. The three main sights there: Palazzo d’ Enzo - Medieval; Palazzo del Podesta Duomo - Romanesque; Palazzo Communal - seat of the local government. The bronze statue of Neptune located in the center, greets every visitor. One outstanding feature in the Basilica di San Domenico, one of the major churches in Bologna, was an exquisite shrine and three statues by a very young Michelangelo. Within the many churches we visited there were paintings by such noted masters as Guido Reni, Filipino Lippi, Nicolo Pisano, and Antonio da Correggio.

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Just outside of the center was the Piazza di' Porta where the two leaning towers - Torre Garisenda and Torre degli Asinelli stand, and the beginning of the university district. One of our many favorite parts of Bologna was the university. Bologna’s university is Europe’s oldest - founded in 1053. By the 12th century more than 10,000 students from all over Europe attended the University of Bologna. Their scholarly alumni included Thomas Becket, Copernicus, Dante, Petrarch, and Federico Fellini. This forward thinking university employed female professors, unheard off during the Middle Ages. The university began as the first student curricula, as opposed to professor driven curricula (e.g. the Sorbonne - 1257). Moreover, the political leanings of today’s student body are displayed in leftist slogans that emblazon the 14-18th century buildings.


Only a few of the more than 200 towers that once rose above Bologna, built by noble families are still standing. The remaining two are barely standing as they are about 10 ft off the perpendicular.

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Every lunch we partook in this region was special. For example, our lunch at Ristorante Alice @ Via Massimo D'Azeglio, 65. While displaying white tablecloths and simple surroundings, Alice served up the ultra Bolognese fare within a very local crowd. We let the waiter make suggestions, and we settled on an antipasti including Pecorino with balsamic, cured meats, chickpeas and sliced marinated eggplant. A wonderful lunch not far from the student quarter. Food and cafes in this quarter were very inexpensive, lively and excellent.  


A reflective note:

We did take the train to Modena and Bologna several times, and an easy trip from Reggio Emilia. We had the opportunity to see the beautiful countryside and pass through small villages and towns along the way. But for actually feeling and the essence of this region, for every detour and diversion we took by car, we found opportunities for surprises and new discoveries.

We were very fortunate to be able to take this slow travel trip. When it becomes safe, practical and appropriate, we shall return to Italy to continue our slow travel as seniors.

As the late founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach, Loris Malaquzzi always ended his talks with “Nothing Without Joy!”



©Russ & Emily Firlik


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Last modified on Saturday, 01 May 2021

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