There wouldn’t be a surprise, if Bologna metropolitan city had another name. For example, the Red City. Because it is red. Every where you look. From the sky or from the ground. Bologna is the home of The Oldest University in the World. Heavily populated Capital city and the Largest city of Emilia Romagna, region of north Italy. We arrived here from Padua after a pleasant train ride. Central Station of Bologna is big, busy and important. Because, from here you can go to almost any part of Italy by their high-speed train.
Because it was lunch time when we arrived in Bologna and because our check in was at 3 pm ……Again!!!, we stopped by a restaurant for a couple of pizza and Spritz. Cheap and delicious!
Our apartment was 20 minutes walk from the station.
It took us a little longer though. Because we have learned that, even though majority of the city is heavily pedestrianized but, the signal to cross the road takes forever in Italy.
The ceiling of the roof was really high. High enough to fly my drone inside. But the kitchen facility was not very good. Not that clean and without tools to cook. And unfortunately, bad beds
We then went for a walk around the area.
Our First stop was Basilica Del San Francesco. Which is a church from the 13th century. However, the visit was interrupted by a man who angrily ran to me and was screaming in Italian. He thought I was secretly taking his photos. Demanding me to show him all my photos. Situation was resolved, but it was difficult to pay attention afterwards.
The next stop was one of the 12 medieval gates of Bologna. The most famous one is next to the station. Those 12 gates were built for protecting the city. Now, 10 gates are remained. Then we have done little groceries for our next few days breakfast, lunch and dinner. We passed through the park not far from us to see if we could fly the drone. But as you will see from the top of the Torri Degli Asinelli Tower in next photos, Bologna is a really packed city. So even if you find a spot, you will have too many people or no signal at all.
We also paid attention to the details of Bolonese architecture and pedestrian side walks under arches. Interesting Fact: the city is actually covered by 40km of those side walk under arches! Really loved the design. As mentioned earlier everywhere we looked there were Red , Yellow and Orange color.
A day in ravenna
Our 2nd day was not is Bologna. It was in Ravenna. One hour by train to get there from Bologna Central station. Ravenna was the capital of Western Roman Empire. Also a World Heritage Site for it’s well preserved late Roman and Byzantine architectures with buildings. There are 8 world heritage sites in Ravenna.
After a quick coffee and Creamy Croissant pause, we (4 of us this time, YES!) went to the Ravenna Tourist Office which is located not far from Piazza Del Popolo to purchase our passes. The Pass allowed us to visit 5 of them. The ticket cost 5.50 euro per person.
1. Basilica Di S.Vitale (Founded by Julianus Argentarius and commissioned by Bishop Ecclesius, the octagonal church was consecrated by Archbishop Maximian in 548. ). It was a special place for another reason. We have never seen such hand crafted mosaic work anywhere. It was such a phenomenal work of art.
2. Mausoleo Di Galla Pacidia ( these two were next to each other) ((386 – 450 AD), sister of the Roman Emperor Honorius who had transferred the Capital of the Western Empire from Milan to Ravenna in 402 AD, built this little Mausoleum with a Latin cross plan around 425-450 as her own resting place.)
3. Battistero Degli Ortodossi, the oldest monument of Ravenna with mosaics and the side of Roman bath.
4. Archiepiscopal Museum with ivory thrones and private Chappelle of San Andrea
5. Basilica Di S.Apollinare Nuovo with round tall tower from 6th century. The red colored old tower was not standing straight. It was tilted a few degrees.
A quick word about the Piazza Del Popolo. This is the main square of Ravenna which was built in 15th century. According to my dear friend Marco who is the Ravenna local, it’s called People’s Square because it’s for the people. And we trust the local of course for local information.
We also visited the Tomb Of Dante. It is located in the Basilica of San Francesco in the center of Ravenna. The tomb is here because, this is where the great poet lived in his final years. He then passed away in 1321.
Reason of our Visit in Ravenna was to meet our friends from Australia after a very long time. One of whom are local of Ravenna. Our host took us to the center of Ravenna as our starting point. They looked after us. We did not have to do anything exept just following our hosts.
At lunch time our hosts Marco and Tammy took us to a restaurant called Ristorante Ca’De Ven (House of Wine in English). It has a fantastic, excellent old school interior decorations. We had Piadina, a specialty bread of north Italy with some a big plate of Chacurterie. A white soft cow cheese called Squacquerone di Romagna, which is only available in Ravenna. And Capelletti pasta, the best in town. All was accompanied by a bottle of Italy’s finest. Later in the afternoon after all the visit, I had an opportunity to meet another old friend Andrea. With whom I used to work with 7 years ago in Sydney. He made us enjoy nice hot chocolate. It was delicious.
As the day got darker, we were obliged to say goodbye to our friends and had to head back to Bologna.
Our 3rd day was the day to explore The metropolitan city of Bologna. We started a little bit late though. Because, a haircut was extremely necessary and we had our lunch in the apartment. The hairdresser available was about 80 metres from us. With help of Google translation, sweet Italian gentleman booked me at midday. Honestly, it was quite an experience. The Italian middle aged Barber took his time to give me the best haircut possible. Even though we didn’t talk much due to our language barrier, we managed to have a pretty awesome conversation with Google translation and with my very little Italian knowledge. He was sweet. Best experience I have ever had.
And then, it beggins. Our first stop was the Twin Tower of Bologna. They called DUE TORRI. Torri Degli Asinelli and Garisenda. Appearantly, there were 180 towers accross the city. There were built to show powers and influence aka ‘Who got the BIG one’. Now there were about 20 towers left. The rest were demolished or destroyed or put in different use.
We reached there via FONTANA DI NETTUNO which situated in the middle of Piazza del NETTUNO. Which is connected to Piazza Maggiore. We did got back to those locations to spend more time later on. Our priority was to be at the Twin TOWER by 2pm.
You can not buy tickets on the spot. It’s online tickets or in the tourist agency. And you can only climb the tallest of the two, Torri Degli Asinelli. It is 97 metres high. 498 steps. We were expecting a nice aerial view of Bologna at this height. Climbing the tower was pretty difficult due to its height and narrow wooden stairs. I few times did dare to look down. Which gave a few head spin. Just to give you an idea of the height, PISA Tower is about 58 meters. So, almost twice the height of Pisa!
From the top, we could see the whole Bologna. It’s beautiful and red. And there were no empty spaces. Although the visibility was not bad but would have been better if the weather was not foggy.
Getting back downstairs felt even more difficult though. We stopped just after the tower visit for a refreshing bevareage because climbing the tower took our energy away.
Spritz costed us 19 Euro, felt like someone punch me in the gut. That was too expensive.
Our next stop was Basilica Del San Stefano, a complex of 7 buildings. The church is inspired by the church of holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Then we came back to Piazza Maggiore via Bologna University campus.
Piazza Maggiore is rather new which appeared in 21st century. Essentially the main square of Bologna. There you can find : the Gigantic Basilica of San Petronio in South East corner, the Renaissance-style palace, Palazzo dei Banchi in East, the Palazzo d’Accursio in the West, who’s is a former city hall and the Historic PALAZZO DEI NOTAI in South West.
Next to all the historical buildings of the Piazza, there is the Fountain of Neptune ( Fontana di Nettuno) in the Piazza di Nettuno. Made in 15th century. It was the Symbol of Maserati Brothers first car. The iconic statue is one of the Symbol of the City. He is the god of Ocean. Basically, he is Aquaman. Last one we saw was in GDANSK, POLAND.
It was about 4pm and we had an appointment with one of my friends. He is from Puglia. Now lives and works in Bologna. We worked together 7 years ago in Sydney, Australia. Just before, we were around the station where you can find one of the 12 Medieval Gates next to the beautiful stairs leadind to a park. We took the via dell’indipendenza, which seems pretty fancy. Looks like one of the quarter with all the premium and high-end boutiques.
The reunion was so sweet, my friend is a father now with a beautiful daughter. He also brought us a beautiful bottle of Italy’s finest. After an wonderful reunion, we ended our evening and our our time in Bologna.
43 days are gone. 57 days are left to go.