Well, what have we all been up to since my last post? It feels like forever but probably just since I've been busy.
Immediately following my trip to Milan (in fact, during a five hour 'layover' on my way home) I stopped to see a city that's been on my list for awhile.
I'll give you a hint - it isn't Pisa. ;) While one of these towers does in fact appear to be listing to one side this is actually the culinary mecca of Bologna, once known for the dozens of towers (maybe as many as 180) used by wealthy families to protect themselves from attack (only about 20 remain). I ended up really enjoying the town and I found it pleasantly 'undiscovered' compared with the rest of Italy. What a nice change of pace!
While there are some canals the city reminded me much more of Florence with the architectural style and slower pace.
I ended up leaving my bags at the train station in the luggage deposit - a fantastic deal for day trippers - at a cost of 4-5 euros, I can't quite remember. Then I followed around a walking tour from here: https://fulbrightyearitaly.com/2014/11/11/self-guided-walking-tour-bologna/
I toured the inside of this historic building, used as the city hall...
...and this church - the Basilica of San Petronio - notable for it's half-finished facade...
...then I made my way to the world's oldest university to see the famous surgical theater where they taught anatomy with cadavers. It's been rebuilt after being heavily damaged in World War II but it's still an impressive space.
Then I mostly just walked around - hoping to climb one of the towers, which I was disappointed to discover were closed. Oh well! Maybe next time. In the meantime, if you want a quiet Italian city to explore without a few thousand of your closest tourist friends, this is the place. I hearby declare Bologna 'undiscovered Florence'.
I did find time before leaving town to have an excellent aperitivo and buy two traditional high quality Bolognese specialties - first, fresh pasta which managed the trip to Rome in excellent shape-
And Balsamic vinegar - the real stuff from Modena. It costs a mint but after two years of indoctination into Italian food culture I really couldn't resist. Saving this little vial to enjoy with my family in September.
If you have a full day I'd recommend also checking out the Portico of San Luca - a 4km long portico leading to a basilica overlooking the city. I didn't have time but maybe when I come back some day!