Tag Archives: history

Foto Friday: Fancy

22 Oct

The historic city center of Bologna has 38 km (24 miles) of portici running along its streets, but this portico on Via Farini is one of the fanciest. The mosaic tiling mirrors the upscale stores the portico covers.

The portici, the “people’s umbrella,” protect pedestrians from sun and rain, as well as giving them a bit of distance from traffic. That wasn’t the original intent, but it makes for a pretty good sales pitch. When the University of Bologna opened, the city was flooded with students with no place to live. The city leaders mandated all buildings would be extended on the second floor and above to provide additional housing for these wealthy students, thus creating the marvelous pedestrian passageways on the ground level.

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Roman Holiday

18 Oct

When I got back from Rome and had a half-second to look at Facebook, I wanted to write a little one liner about my trip, and I was sort of stumped. Though I’d had an enjoyable time, I’d tried to catch an earlier train home than I’d anticipated: I was done about five hours earlier than I thought I’d be.

And you can’t just write: Valerie Tidwell enjoyed Rome. That’s not nearly exciting enough for the heart of one of the world’s original empires. Facebook offers little room for details about traveling on my own for the first time or being thrust into such a tourist mecca and everything that comes with that.

Rome was everything I expected it to be.

I was there to do the tourist thing: the Colosseum, the Forum, Vatican City, etc. Going alone meant I made a few careless mistakes like not noting English tours only run on the weekend and backtracking across town to make it to a tour that wasn’t being offered.

Early morning shadows stretch across the Colloseum

The Forum

Hail Caesar, and bring him flowers!

Remus and Romulus with the she-wolf

Fountain from the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona. Closest is the Nile, whose head is veiled because they didn't know the source of the river.

The crowds at the Trevi Fountain

On the whole, traveling by myself was OK. I got to be in charge of the money, the guide book, and the map; I got to decide what I wanted to eat and when. Sure, there aren’t as many pictures with me in them on the first day, but how many of those do I really need?

I did meet another solo traveler at my hostel that first evening, and she and I paired up for the second day.

The Vatican Basilica

It's hard to see, but this is a map of Bologna in the Hall of Maps in the Vatican Museum. Even the iconic Due Torres were painted in.

I’d like to go back to Rome. I didn’t get to see any museums except those in the Vatican, and I somehow missed the Raphael rooms there. Since my hostel was a far walk from most of the touristy stuff and I was trying to avoid too much walking around at night, I didn’t get to see anything lit up. Also, I’d like to go around and recreate images of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in “Roman Holiday,” possibly in period clothing. Colin doesn’t know this yet.

San Petronio, we salute you

7 Oct

Last weekend was a holiday weekend in Bologna; Monday was the feast day of the city’s patron saint, San Petronio.

Documents from the fifth century cast Petronio in a good light—a bishop wrote that he was renowned throughout Italy for his virtues. Petronio was elected as the bishop of Bologna in 432 and built the church for Santo Stefano during his reign (my apartment on the same street was built some time later).

I really like Petronio because of the way he’s depicted in paintings: he’s always protectively cradling or standing over a miniature of the city (distinct because of the towers). (I mostly just like being able to point out something significant in those religious paintings…)

There are at least a handful of paintings with Petronio looking young and smiling, but it's pretty difficult to find those images online without knowing the titles.

Schools were closed to honor the man (though American universities were not—first day of real school!), so I was babysitting during the day for a change. It drizzled in the afternoon, but had stopped by evening. I joined Kristen and a few other SAISers for a feast, and though we didn’t even think to toast San Petronio, we did all partake in traditional Bolognese dishes.

We joined Colin and a few more SAISers in Piazza Maggiore, right in front of the Basilica di San Petronio, to catch the end of a all-male production of an adaption of Cinderella that included such musical hits as “Dancing Queen,” “YMCA,” and “It’s Raining Men”—in Italian.

We were actually there for the fireworks that followed, which were surprisingly good. They were set up to fire off the ground and two levels of city hall, creating a really neat effect. It was certainly the closest I’ve been to professional-grade fireworks, and I went to sleep with ringing ears.

Oh! And Colin had a brush with fame. An Italian SAIS student spotted former Prime Minister Romano Prodi before the fireworks, and a group of them approached him to take a photo. Kristen even gave him a squeeze.

Just a few photos

10 Sep

Nothing amazing. Imagine if I had a really stellar camera and a less-shaky hand, though. Then these would be amazing.

Bologna used to have rivers running through it, but they were pushed underground to make way for automobiles. Here is a sample of what it must have been like.

Neptune in all his watery glory. There used to be a big market in the piazza he gazes at, and fruit vendors would wash their ware in the fountain until a pope came to town and disagreed with the practice. He ordered the small fountain that the man in the very bottom of the frame is drinking from.

The statue of the pope-looking man is, in fact, a pope. However, when Napoleon came on the scene with his anti-Catholic Church views, the quick-thinking citizens of Bologna assured him it was actually a statue of St. Petronius, or San Petronio, the patron saint of Bologna. It fooled Napoleon and saved the statue's neck.

I've seen a few film crews around the city, and it's now dawning on me they were probably all for the same film, "AmeriQua," about Robert Kennedy III's life in Bologna.

This is one of my favorite streets in the city. You step onto it from the bustle of a busy street on one end or the glare of the piazza on the other, and cool, fruit-scented air is so calming.

Further down on the fruit street is a cheese shop so nice, it inspires embraces.

The Red, the Learned, the Fat

30 Aug

Three of a handful of epithets that have been applied to Bologna throughout history. Hundreds of adjectives apply, but these three stuck, and here’s why.

Reddish-orange buildings topped with red roofs fill the city center. The only real variation is the shade: yellowish-orange facades to crumbling reddish-brown brick. The buildings are all about three stories, and they line narrow streets that extend away from the central piazza like spokes. This all makes it very easy to get turned around, which isn’t such a terrible thing.

Bologna also has a history of being very left-leaning and was a stronghold for the Italian Communist Party for much of the period following World War II. It has since drifted more toward the center, but the name remains.

The University of Bologna has the honor of being the oldest existing university in Europe. Founded in 1088, its alumni include Dante, Petrarca, Copernicus, and Marconi, as well as a number of important figures in the Catholic Church.

More personally, I’m one of only three non-SAIS significant others surrounded by 204 students pursuing their master’s degree. Their resumes and travel histories are long and impressive; these are the people they’re talking about when they say “The youth are the leaders of tomorrow.”

Finally, this region has a reputation for making good food—according to even Italians. It is the breadbasket of Italy, and everyone’s seen Bolognese sauce on a menu at an Italian restaurant. And while Naples can claim pizza and Neapolitan ice cream, Bologna takes credit for rich lasagne, meaty tortellini, and cheesy tortelloni.

And I’ve got an oven again, so there will be baking!