Sunday, 15 July 2012


Hello  Bologna!!

Today I get joined on my trip by my friends Janine, Adam and Heather, and occasionally Phil ( not in photo). Adam and Heather are highly seasoned and high octane tourists, but they put up with me tagging along behind them for a day or so! However, pre-tourist run, one has to have a proper English cup of tea, and biscuits to provide one with the correct fuel to get going!

Bologna is the home of the oldest university in the world and was the first university to grant a degree to a woman (yay!). For those who qualified as doctors they were allowed to have the walls and ceilings of the university decorated with their heraldry and their place of origin - fascinating to see how the 'countries' of Europe evolve over the centuries. Of course, if you continue on to a doctorate and even a professorship or a Chair at the University , you are granted the high honor of being buried in midair. I hope the dead don't suffer from fear of height - and I have to say that the tombs seem to be something straight out of Terry Pratchett's Unseen University.

 Time for a quick strength building break, and a gorgeously chocolatey frozen coffee. NOM!

From there, on to St Stefano, the holiest place in Bologna which is a conglomeration of multiple churches into one large church. In the Middle Ages, it's where all the relics were stored, and one of the churchs is the oldest church in Bologna. Out of interest the blue and white patch on the column is a surveyor's sighting point for ensuring that earthquakes don't cause too much movement or subsidence - not a common point in English historical monuments!

St Stefano also has a 'replica' of the tomb that Jesus was buried in - the Holy Sepulchre. As I've not been there yet, I dont know. But it was a very pretty monument in the middle of a pretty circular chamber. It had awesome acoustics too!

From St Stefano, we headed off to the  main university buildings and ended up in the anatomy theatre. The majority of the theatre is a reconstruction following substantial damage in World War II but it's still an awesome room, with as much of the original as they retained used in the rebuilding. This is the oldest anatomy theatre in Europe, and used cadavars from people executed at the request of the state, but had to be supervised by the church at all times - there were two priests hiding in a small room peeking down with the ability to call a halt if the dissection was too grim!

Of course once you graduated as a surgeon, you went forth into the world to practice - do you think this man was into cosmetic surgery? ( is this a nose I see before me? )

After such a gruesome experience, we clearly needed to rebuild our  strength, so it was time to hit Bologna's best ( and slightly bizarre flavoured ) geleteria . For me, it was pineapple sorbet and it was truely awesome and refreshing. Rock on Italian icecream!

 Bologna is known as the City of Towers and the City of Colonades - it has the longest continuous covered colonade  in the world. The whole central city is lined with colonades which are gloriously welcome for wandering under in the heat and baking sun of the Italian summer.

In the centre of town, opposite the Pope's palace there is a glorious statue - with a naked Neptune and a number of naiads all spouting water from their breasts. Folklore has it that the Pope, on one of his visits, requested the civic dignatories to either remove or cover over the naked bronze flesh on display outside his window, as being most inappropriate to his role. This however was not acceptable to the Bolognese, and Neptune and his naiads still guard the central square.

By this time, my shoes and feet were gently smoking from having followed the experts across the town, so I quietly quiched and took a taxi back to the 'van!

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