04.11.2008 - 04.11.2008 12 °C
This morning we left the car in the garage to take a train to Bologna, site of the first university in the Western world, and spiritual home of culinary Italy.
It's not just food, though, it's porticos too. Bologna claims to have over 70km of porticoed streets, which on a day where it poured on and off until well after dark came as a blessing.
I've seen Bologna described as 'gritty' in guidebooks, but unless they're talking about the suburbs outside the city center, it doesn't really fit. The city doesn't rival Venice for sheer beauty, but has its picturesque moments.
Bologna does, however, have a rival for Pisa's famous leaning tower. The Torre Garisenda, built in a twelfth-century bragging rights contest, does not have a proper foundation, and is sinking visibly into the ground.
In an effort to spare the rest of central Bologna, 175ft of it were cut off the top, leaving the Torre di Asinelli victorious at 314ft, almost twice the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It takes climbing 498 rickety wooden stairs to get to the top and be rewarded with this gorgeous view of the historic city center.
I assume it's much more gorgeous when the visibility tops triple digits; I leave for the reader the consolation prize of my piercing gaze.
All that exercise is bound to make a person hungry. Bologna is a good place to be hungry.
Lunch at Giampi e Ciccio (recommended in the Slow Food Osterie d'Italia guide I bought last night). Colleen: Tortellini [unbelievably fantastic ethereal tortellini, stuffed with mortadella] in brodo. Josh: Lasagne verde alla bolognese [spinach lasagne with rague]. Split secondo: Misto Petronio [little meatballs, peas, stuffed zucchini, stuffed prosciutto.