A scare re:iPad, then Bologna delivers

Sunday my iPad refused to charge. I looked at the Internet for help, finally arranged a call from Apple for Monday morning. Nope,nothing the nice guy in Dublin could do,I’d have to take it to the nearest Apple Store which happened to be in Bologna, our next destination.

After a longer than  anticipated train ride ( our first train to Padua was late and we missed our connection), we arrived hot and sweaty at our Bologna hotel. The very helpful front desk clerk assured me that the Apple Store was not a long walk at all, and so , after collapsing for an hour , we set off with it in a bag on my shoulder. A very nice, helpful young man at the very familiar looking Apple Store, asked me what I was there for and I told him. We tried to plug it in there, but nothing happened. I was worried. Coming back right at 9am was suggested. In a last ditch effort, the nice Apple guy took a kind of paper clip-like wire device and poked around in the slot where the fire-wire connector goes. I didn’t see any unnatural “stuff” come out, but he offered to plug it in again, have us wait for 10 min. And see if anything different happened.I was doubtful. But it did start charging again! Who knows what was wrong, maybe some “belly-button” type lint got into it, it is 3+ years old (ancient for an apple product).

We stopped and had dinner and plugged the baby in and Voila la- 100% in the morning!!

Our hotel is in a pretty good location,  not exactly right near anything, but kind of near lots of things. This morning we walked down the same busy street, Via Independencia, we walked last night to go to the Apple Store.On both sides of the street the buildings lower floors are a series of arched loggias. Block after block , with shops and cafes all sharing a polished terrazzo sidewalk and enormous columns you can walk for long distances without ever being in the direct sun,nice in the late summer heat here. We did venture out of the shade to explore the center of the city based on the on-line tour of a former Fulbright scholar who lived here a few years ago. She was concerned that there was so little available to guide first-time visitors to Bologna, a city that she had come to love. For about 2 hours we followed her suggestions and saw a lot of the city center’s historic spots.

The main public library, for example, was at one time the stock exchange, then a basketball arena. In the last 20 years, Roman ruins were discovered underneath the building and in excavating them a decision was made to open it up to the public. One can look down through glass tiles in the lobby of the library, and then you can go downstairs and walk just above the ancient stones and tiles on metal walkways! Totally cool!

The huge church which makes one side of the public square, the Basilica di San Petronio.It is really, really big- hard to see just how large from the front. The building was begun in 1390 but still is not quite done! The facade is rough brick above and elegant white and pink marble below.According to legend, the Pope at the time learned about the plans for this really big, really elegant church and stopped it- fearing it would rival Saint Peter’s in Rome. Jealousy is a tyrant! The interior however is finished, my how it is finished! Marbles, frescos, gold leaf, and a pair of the saddest faced lions ever carved are all in there among the 22 chapels. There is also a strange “thing”, a Meridian Line that was installed into the floor as a sundial in 1655. I associated meridian lines with Celtic Mystics in Great Britian ( having encountered a few there), but this served a different purpose. Telling time and apparently it is very precise, for that sort of thing.

We went upstairs into what had been the first consolidated building for the University of Bologna from the 1500’s until 1803. It housed the medical school, hence the Anatomical Theater where cadavers would be dissected on a marble slab in the center of the elegantly wood panel led theater space. Students would listen to the lecturer who sat at a high lectern explaining what was happening. The room has a carving of Neptune on the ceiling and a pair of carved men who appear to have had their skins removed so as to reveal the muscles underneath hold up part of the lectern’s canopy.

The hallways are resplendent with paintings and especially with thousands of coats of arms  and names of students and with dedications to famous teacher/physicians going back hundreds of years.

Bologna feels very different than Vicenza. For one, it is about 3 times the population. Then the architecture is heavier, solid, massive. Although the theme around here is arcades, which make for a lot of similar feeling streetscapes that have space between the storefronts and the streets. The Centro, or city center of Vicenza is really nearly car-free and rather peaceful. Bologna is full of buses, motor scooters, taxis and people ! so much busier than Vicenza. I like it enough for our short visit, but I’m not sure I’d be in a hurry to return.

Late this afternoon, we took a short taxi ride to the Modern Art Museum, or MAMBO, which also houses the Museo Morandi. Giorgio Morandi was born here in Bologna and seldom left the place. He lived with  his 2sisters for his entire lifetime, which allowed him to do his work and to be distracted by the demands of ordinary life,like cooking meals or paying bills. By all accounts he was a generally nice man who  just wanted to be left alone most of the time. He did teach etching at the Fine Arts Faculty of the University, and he sold  a lot of work in his lifetime as well. According the the film at the exhibit, his sisters managed all of the money and he had no idea how much he had accumulated. When, in his late 60’s he proposed buying land and building a house n the  country near where he and his sisters had rented in the summers for many years, the architect proposed a house of some distinction, befitting a by then very famous painter.Apparently, Morandi asked for a piece of paper and a pencil and drew a very simple box-like house and told the architect that was what he wanted! Poor frustrated architect !

Seeing dozens of paintings and etchings and quite a few drawings and watercolors gave me a renewed appreciation for the work he produced.Keeping forms and color simple, he communicated through subtle line and shape. Sometimes the forms of the bottles and bowls are cramped together, sometimes spread out. Sometimes the light seems to radiate from the painting, sometimes they are nearly monochrome. Bill was kind of surprised to finally see this work, since I had raved about it. Hmm, was his response. He said that he could understand how, as a painter, I might find it interesting. Bill is a very patient man! We walked back to our hotel from the museum, now with a bit more understanding of Morandi and of Bologna.

Tomorrow we get up early and take a 8:50 train to  Ravenna to see the famous mosaics in a bunch of buildings. I may be too tired to write tomorrow night, or maybe not.

Thursday we again take a train, this time to Florence where we pick up a rental car and head directly out of town to our “agritourismo” not too far from Siena, for 4 nights. Then to Florence and the last 5 days of our trip. Can’t believe we are half way through.

Ciao and comments are welcome!




Published in: on September 13, 2016 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

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