A Month in Bologna

Sunday, June 26, 2011 2:46 AM

Bizzaro Bologna Part 1

The heat has finally arrived in Italy. The last couple of days have been in the mid to upper 80's with the kind of humidity that we hardly ever get in Colorado. I've even dug out my shorts and sandals from the drawer where they've been sitting since we arrived here over three weeks ago.

I can't believe we have less than a week left before we head to Munich. Time is running out and we still have things to do and places to go. But even though reality bites, it has to be dealt with, so I made a reservation today at a hotel near the airport since our flight leaves at 7:00 A.M. on the 30th and we don't want to miss it.

Outside of a day trip to Faenza, we have spent most of our time recently in and around Bologna itself. There is some really strange stuff here. Like Denver, The city sits in a plain with mountains starting just outside the city limits. In Italy's case, they are called the Apennines and form the backbone of the country down the entire peninsula south of the Po river valley. We headed out one day to visit the Sanctuary of San Luca, which was built on a foothill overlooking Bologna. People would walk up to it as a pilgrimage, but that wasn't for us. It was a bit of a project to find the right bus to take us to the top, but we and the bus were finally at the same place at the same time, so we climbed aboard and headed up the mountain. I estimate that it took 15 to 20 minutes of twisting and turning to get there, only to find out that the sanctuary wouldn't open for another 20 minutes. The time was 14:10 (2:10 P.M.) and we wondered when we could catch the return bus. Well, there wasn't one until three hours later. There was no way that we were going to spend that amount of time hanging out at the church with nothing else in the vicinity. The bus driver sensed our unease and said that we could walk down the path of the pilgrims, which he claimed was only ten minutes to the bottom.

We took his advice with a grain of salt and watched as he drove down the hill toward the city. Although the Sanctuario di San Luca is very impressive from the outside, especially as seen down below from Bologna, it really doesn't have much to recommend it internally. We spent 15 minutes looking around after it opened and decided to head down. We expected some kind of dirt path to follow, but found instead that the way was a portico (You remember those, don't you?) two and half miles long, that went the entire length downhill with no exits and many stairs. Once started, you were committed. We passed many expensive homes along the descent, so we were obviously in the high rent district. It turned out that ten minutes to the bottom was a joke. Forty-five minutes was more like it, but we gutted it out, as if we had a choice. Needless to say, our legs were a little sore the next day.


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