Bologna


Bologna

 

Nettuno (Neptune) Fountain in Piazza Maggiore

Fontana Nettuno (Neptune Fountain) in Piazza Maggiore

 

Because of its location in the Po River Valley near the Apennines, Bologna has been at the crossroads of European history since 1000 BC. Etruscans settled here, Rome colonized it, and began laying out a walled city with a grid of intersecting narrow streets that remain the historic center city.

Bologna is home of the University of Bologna, the first western university started in 1088. Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch were students as well as Guillermo Marconi, inventor of the telegraph, who was born in Bologna.

The University of Bologna attracts a large international student body, who are largely responsible for the ugly graffiti plastered on the city’s buildings including palaces and historic sites. A real blight, very unfortunate to have scars mar the beauty and architecture of a historic city.

Piazza Maggiore

Piazza Maggiore is the main square in Bologna, which is surrounded by St. Petronius Church, medieval palaces, and city hall.   Fontana Nettuno (Neptune fountain) in the piazza has been a meeting place for centuries. Bologna has many fine museums of archeology, geology, modern art, medieval and church history.  The city has its own civic art museum  in city hall on Piazza Maggiore.

 

Nettuno fountain in Piazza Maggiore

Nettuno fountain in Piazza Maggiore

 

City of towers and porticoes

Bologna is known for its extensive porticoes which are both artistic and practical, providing curved arches for paintings and mosaics and also providing sheltering pedestrians from inclement weather.  We took advantage of Bologna’s porticoes which allowed us to navigate around the city when it was drizzling.

 

Portico in fashion district

Portico in fashion district

Portico

 

Ceiling mosaic on Piazza Cavour

Portico mosaic on Piazza Cavour

 

Portico ceiling on Piazza Cavour

Portico mosaic on Piazza Cavour

 

Dueling towers

In the 12th and 13th centuries, noble Bolognese families built towers within the walled city as a sign of their wealth and stature, but also as a defense.  More than medieval 180 towers were built, but only about 20 remain.  One of the museums had a panorama of what Bologna looked like with towers dominated the landscape.

Two famous towers from earlier centuries, “Due Torre” have become a symbol of the city.   The Asenilli and Garisenda towers are next to each other in front of the Santo Stefano church not far from Piazza Maggiore.

 

Dueling towers

Dueling towers

Dueling towers

Early in the construction of the Garisenda tower, builders discovered it had begun to lean.  Construction was halted, but the tower, which had only reached 20 meters, was allowed to remain.  That was respectful.

The Asinelli tower, which reaches nearly 200 meters, is the highest remaining medieval tower in Bologna and is visible for miles.

 

Base of leaning tower

Base of leaning tower

 

Dueling towers from Piazza Maggiore

Due torre from Piazza Maggiore

 

Bologna train station bombing

Plaque of 83 victims of 1980 train station bombing

Plaque of 83 victims of 1980 train station bombing

Bologna was a booming center of industrialization after World War II and became a hotbed for communists and left-wing groups. During the 1960s – 1980’s, Italy was traumatized by radical right-wing fascists and left-wing terrorists such as Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades).

Site of bomb detonation

Site of bomb detonation

 

On August 2, 1980, a massive bomb exploded in the Bologna train station killing 83, injuring 200, and destroying the station. The bombing was carried out by fascists terrorists, many of whom were tried and convicted.

The city has memorialized the tragedy with a plaque listing the victims names.  A hole in the tile floor where the bomb detonated has been filled with cement, and a blown-out door frame next to it has been restored.

Blown out door from bombing

Blown out door from bombing

 

Plaque commemorating the tragedy of the terrorist bombing

Plaque commemorating the tragedy of the terrorist bombing

 

The outside clock has been permanently stopped at the moment of the explosion: 10:24 AM. Black and white photos on a wall in the waiting room show the station before the bombing and the devastation caused by the bomb.

Train station clocked permanently stopped at time of explosion

Train station clocked permanently stopped at time of explosion

 

On a bus tour one day around the city, we drove up a wooded hillside with beautiful villas, gardens, parks and a local hospital that was formerly a palace.  Incredible views of the city, its red-tiled palaces, historic buildings, and towers.

Bologna from foothills of the Appenines

Bologna from foothills of the Apennines

 

Last day in Bologna at Fontana Nettuno

Last day in Bologna at Fontana Nettuno

Next:  Bressanone / Brixen in Sudtiro

*****

In addition to writing this travel blog, I write international thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels.

I’m currently writing a thriller series based in Milan featuring the anti-terrorism police, DIGOS, as they track down domestic and international terrorists.

If you’d like to get a free ebook of my first thriller, Thirteen Days in Milan,  please sign up on the left side bar.  I just need your name and email address.

The second book in the series, No One Sleeps, was published as an ebook in December and a paperback in June.  You can find my books at Amazon and all digital book sites.  Paperbacks of Thirteen Days in Milan and No One Sleeps can be ordered at bookstores around the world.

I’m writing Book 3 in the series, Cadorna Station, and researching this summer in Italy.

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6 responses to “Bologna

  1. What fun. great picture of the two of you. When are you ever coming home?. Do you still have a home?
    Best,
    Karen

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  2. A little late posting this summer, Karen. Lucy left from Zurich to fly ‘home’ Tuesday.
    I have two more weeks and using time to post from a few interesting and historic places we visited: Sudtirol, Leipzig, Nuremberg.

    Stay tuned, hope to have Sudtirol up in a couple days, photos of the Dolomites — and a surprise post about the remains of a 5500 year old man, Otzi, discovered in a glacier a few miles from where we were staying In Bresanonne / Brixen.

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    • Oops, I forgot to post those, Liz. But . . . I have great photos you’ll like from Munchen, Leipzig, Nuremberg with Lucy sipping a hefty weizenbier or two; I’m munching wurst and kraut, digging deep to connect to my German roots.

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    • Would love to see you and Mary Ann again, Fred. Been a long time. Lucy’s back in Monterey, I’ll be there in two weeks.
      Been a great summer, but it will be nice to settle into our simple, quiet life in the hills looking over Laguna Seca.
      Let’s connect in early August, check your dates and will plan something special. Lots of great restaurants as you know
      and weather should be super.

      Like

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