A Month in Bologna

Sunday, July 3, 2011 5:14 AM

Neighborhoods

Ronnie and I were putting down some final pros and cons of living in Bologna for the last month, and I brought up the fact that we lived in a quintessential urban neighborhood there. There was the pharmacy on the corner, the gelato place across the street, a small grocery store in the other direction and a bakery just down a side street. When we ate one night at the pizzeria, which I have  described previously, it was noticeable that everyone seemed to know each other.


As I thought about it, it hit me. This is how I grew up! At 514 Niagara Street, in the Italian West Side of Buffalo, New York. The stores were rearranged a bit, but they were all there. The DanDee Ice Cream Parlor was downstairs from our second story flat. Belliotti's Drug Store was on the corner like it's counterpart in Bologna. Christiano's Bakery was half a block away, where we could buy hard crusted bread still hot from the oven. Kitty corner from us was a Ma and Pa grocery store. The lady who owned the women's clothing store directly across Niagara Street was a friend of my mother and I was good friends with Mr. Belliotti, who would let me read all the comic books in the rack, as long as I ended up buying one of them for 10 cents. My grandfather fit right in because he was the local barber, who I always thought resented customers because they took time away from the pinochle games with his cronies in the back room of his shop. There was even a bar next to our house with the fancy name of The Rendezvous. It had a side entrance to provide access to a lounge in back for those women who didn't want to walk through the bar itself.


There definitely are attractions to living in these communities. Convenience is a major factor because almost everything is within walking distance. For destinations outside the neighborhood, buses and streetcars pass by on a frequent basis and it's only a short walk to the nearest stop. However, the traffic is noisy, especially the motorcycles in Bologna, and makes things grimy. Ronnie and I really missed seeing something green growing. Even our place on Niagara St. had a park a couple of blocks away, but the city plan of Bologna goes back centuries and there was never any thought given to a "Green Belt" back then. All in all, Bologna has a lot to offer and we're glad that we came, but, when all is said and done, we'll take Lakewood.


However, there is one last thing we'll miss about Bologna. When you order a drink, the plate of goodies is included. Gotta love the Italians. 

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