Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Regine and I decided to visit Bologna because the tourists in Florence are driving us crazy. Really, you wouldn’t believe the numbers! As I have said before, Italians are very tolerant and appreciative of the tourists, but living with the numbers of them is tough! You can’t walk for the people strolling in herds, eating gelato, gazing with their mouths opened at every statute, tower, building, painting, etc. I know it is hypocritical of me to even talk about it, since I was one, and probably still act like one regularly, but on those days when I am just trying to "live here" (go to the grocery, the post office, school, etc) it’s crazy.

This weekend was another "holiday" of some type, so we expected the numbers of tourists to increase even more. Florence is a destination for other Italians as well!

On Friday evening, after the wine tasting, we had purchased our train tickets to depart at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. The weather was not supposed to be great, but we thought we might as well be in Bologna with rain, as in Florence. The train ride there took barely an hour.
We got a map when we arrived in Bologna at the tourist information center and made our way pretty easily to the historic center. We caught the end of a parade in the Piazza, which was fun, and toured the cathedral there, San Petronio. San Petronio is built of bricks, which is much different than Florence and the rest of Italy. It was founded in 1390 and was originally supposed to be larger than St. Peter’s in Rome, but I was scaled down in order to perform other construction in the area, and remains "unfinished" currently. Nevertheless, it is beautiful and the bricks create a different look than other s in Italy.

When we excited the church, it had started to rain a little so we decided to have a cappuccino on the piazza. Many things were closed today because of the holiday, but our timing was great around staying out of the rain. The architecture in Bologna is very different and has lots of porticoed buildings and almost all of the sidewalks are covered with beautiful gothic arches and painted dome ceilings. This made is convenient for walking all over the city, even when it was raining.

Because of the holiday, many things were closed, we walked all over the city to see the sites and the layout, and when we needed a rest, we found a wine bar for a glass of vino, and a snack. Throughout the day, I think we visited 3 or 4 of these, and had a wonderful time. Towards the end of the day, Regine remarked, "Whenever I am with you, I am drunk!". I laughed out loud, and said that she was not the first person that had told me that, and that my friends in the states would be happy to know that some things had not changed about me!

We made our way back to the train station to catch an 8:30 p.m. train. We stood on the platform and noticed that it was decidedly empty and tried to listen to the announcements in Italian about the comings and goings of the trains. At the time our train was to be parting, we noticed that there were 2 number 3 platforms! There was a train at the other platform! We looked at each other astonished and ran over to the other train. The other train was actually headed to Rome Termini, but had a stop in Florence, so we boarded quickly. Apparently we missed our original train, but for a small extra charge, we made it home in less than an hour!
When we arrived in Florence, the difference in the number of people was astonishing. Even though we recognized the difference and appreciated the quiet streets of Bologna, we were immediately bombarded with hoards of people. It was about 10:00 p.m. by now and we made our way over to Piazza della Signoria to listen to music. The Firenze Philharmonic was set up on a stage in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, and what a nice concert it was! We got to listen to about half of it which was primarily Rogers and Hammerstein music, with the Italian National Anthem at the end. The Italian National Anthem is such an upbeat and happy sounding song! I decided I would look it up on the internet and learn the words! Italians sounded so joyous when they were singing it. There is a stark contrast to our National Anthem!

After this concert ended, we finished the night with the guitar music at the Uffizi. What a wonderful weekend!

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