Day 1,556 of Traveling the World | Bologna, Italy | May 7, 2022

If you were dropped into the Plaza Maggiore in Bologna, blindfolded, and had to guess where you were…you might guess Rome, Florence, or Milan, or another more popular Italian city. There are crowds (in many alleyways filled with bars and restaurants, there was not a table to be had). There is every conceivable high-end retail store you can think of. There is world-class food, especially tortellini, a city specialty. And there are the porticoes, the covered walkways (that we unknowingly called arcades, at first) that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site – if you can believe it, 25 miles of porticoes run through the city. Since we had rain off and on throughout the days we have been here, the porticoes were a godsend, keeping us dry. And walking through them for hours is one of the best things to do in Bologna. Seeing how they change in construction as the city grew is quite interesting.

Our entire lives, all that we knew of Bologna is that it was a “university town,” so we looked forward to arriving, as we suspected we would find more diverse food choices and more choices in stores. In fact, the University of Bologna was founded in 1088, and is the oldest university in the world. There were lots and lots of people here, and many groups of teens sightseeing and going to the front of the line because they had a group reservation. At one point we decided to skip the ticketed portion of the Archiginnasio (the oldest university building) because of so many tours going in ahead of us. We didn’t know what the Anatomical Theater was, but we skipped it, only to find out that it was where cadaver dissections took place for medical students. At any rate, as you will see in the photos, what we could see for free was impressive enough and much less crowded. Maybe we’ll see the rest on our next trip to the city. We never feel we have to “do it all” in one trip, as we always assume that, like MacArthur, we will return!

It is easy to envision staying here for a longer time in the future, as the city has so much to offer. Our first night here, we enjoyed Pakistani food, as during our last two stays in more secluded mountain towns, all we could find was pasta and pizza. So the diversity here was most welcome. But now that we have had some variety, there will probably be quite a bit of traditional Italian food in our near future. We are only going to be in the country for a few more days, and there is nothing like real Italian food.

We decided to start with photos of storefronts in the old part of the city, dating likely from the late 1800s-early 1900s. They look exactly as they would have then, with generations of workers linking the years together.
A restaurant specializing in pork – do you see the entire roast pig in the window?
A gorgeous flower shop.
This shop had a little of everything. Most of these stores are in one of the oldest parts of the city called the Quadrilatero.
The yellow boxes looked so pretty!
A lovely – and delicious – bakery.
Evocative of a jungle…
The dazzling interior of Rosarose Bistro.
A meat vendor.
An old restaurant front, advertising modern temptations.
We liked the multiplicity of dogs…dogs…dogs…
Che bello! A canine angel with food paintings behind it.
A sandwich shop.
In a large crowded public market, this group had a lunch nook all to themselves…looks like a 30th birthday party.
…and so did they!
They had their very own room. Most locals were sharing the lunch that you see…this group has four large platters of lunch meats, cheeses, breads, figs, jams, and condiments.
Gelato! (We keep saying ice cream, of course!)
The redundancy of pasta…all nearly identical, as they are each shaped by very experienced hands (not by machines). Bologna is known for its tortellini, and in most cases, the tiny ones, needing to be made by more adept fingers, are more expensive despite what filling they hold.
Have we died and gone to heaven yet? We haven’t seen tomatoes this red and gorgeous in a long time!
Ham, anyone? There were lots and lots of ham and cured meat shops.
Pretty bars of soap, all locally made.
Gorgeous, colorful produce at the market.
While the porticoes are famous, and are the town’s treasure, see how different they all are in this and the following photos. All were constructed over different periods of city life.
This portico is a little more ornate,with drapes, as it is on the city’s main square, the Piazza Maggiore.
This portico is in different colors than the rest, with a plea for peace in Ukraine.
In the oldest parts of Bologna, this portico is made of wood and rounded brick.
This portico has capped pillars.
Old brick construction on the right portico, with more modern cement pillars on the left.
The Fountain of Neptune (1566) in Piazza Maggiore.
These four figures around the base of the statue are called “lactating nereids,” sea nymphs friendly and helpful to sailors. Why they are on a fountain commissioned by St. Charles Borromeo and honoring the election of Pope Pius IV, dating to 1566, is a mystery.
The Asinelli Tower, one of two almost adjacent leaning towers in the city. Standing at 319 feet tall., Asinelli is the tallest and was used as a prison and a stronghold.
The beautiful interior of Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro.
There are canals in Bologna, dating back to the Middle Ages. Who knew?
The inner courtyard of the Archiginnasio, once the main building of the University of Bologna.
Beautiful! The ceilings and walkways of the Archiginnasio are covered in colorful dedications, coats of arms, and remembrances of local faculty.
Part of the library on the second floor.
One of the porticoes of the University – the ceilings and walls all look like this!
The Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square.
Klimt’s “The Kiss” in a store window. We think it is part of a kit for children to color.
The look of this retail window was very pleasing, nicely put together.
We didn’t notice anyone wearing any shoes that looked even remotely like these. It is like they were in a museum. They are set under a dress, so we guess they are women’s, but we aren’t at all certain.
THIS?!?! It is a red chocolate shoe with a white chocolate rose, of course!