What’s all the hype about when people gush about Bologna? Before I leave for Barcelona, I’m spending a day here to find out. I don’t love traveling around Europe by myself, but I’ll have to like it since my travel buddy had to go back home and back to work. The fun of traveling, for me, is joking, laughing and silliness. Alone, I would look like a schitzophrenic, which would make it a problem booking a rent a car. I dont think Hertz will hand me a set of car keys if I’m saying, to no one in particular, “If you had to choose between a screaming baby on the bus or and an 80 year old with a Flip Phone…which one would you pick?”
With my travel buddy, The daily joke ritual was to play that goofy Italian remix of “No Americano” and dance around like a clowns on a double dose of Wellbutrin.
No, I’m getting on the silly ‘tourist bus that looks like a choo choo train” alone with a heard of seniors from Scotland.
The first thing I do in every city, is get on that silly hop-on hop-off bus to get an overview of where I am, and see what neighborhoods I want to walk around in. Most big and medium size cities in the world have them. If you live in LA, you know the kind I mean…with the open roof full o’ tourists. Like most cities in Italy that you access by train, there is a luggage storage room at the train station, so for $10 or 15 bucks, you can drop you bags for the day and do a quick excursion around town, then get back on the train and head to your next destination.
Today was my one day solo exploration before flying from Milan to Barcelona where I would meet up with my daughter, who’s been traveling alone all over europe for the past 5 weeks and having a blast. But then, she has excellent social skills and Im kind of a shy weirdo. Don’t get me wrong, I can walk up to people and introduce myself and chat, but it I have to shift into another personality–my public persona. Writers tend to be observers, and it’s more natural for me to be off in the corner watching everyone rather than in the mix, casting threads of conversations. Every where I go, I see a few of those people in opposite corners of the room, sitting alone, watching people. I’m thinking that these people are thinking. Or writing lyrics, poetry, blogs, articles, notes, scenes for the novel…or… if they’re laughing–they’re coming up with material for their stand up comedy set.
Like most of Europe, the remains of the past are all around you. Archways, castles, cathedrals, and fortresses that remind you of a time when cities had to be surrounded by walls with wrought iron gates and watchtowers and guards and cannons, so you could be protected by whoever ever was going to conquer and destroy your town. It’s still happening in Syria, while I’m peacefully rolling around town snapping photos, but they don’t have great stone walls fortresses there. Once in a while I catch a news report that tens of thousands of refugees are pouring into Germany and other places in Europe–land of the fortresses.
Most of the ancient buildings are covered with steel netting, so your windshield or your scull doesn’t get hit with chunks of crumbling gargoyles. The high point of the day is winding up the side of a hill where there’s a covered walkway that people of Bologna hike up, all the way to the massive cathedral at the top called San Micheal (pronounced San Mik-e-lay) Thats the Italian pronunciation. Then, in the old town you canwalk through more labrynths of covered walkways (built before the Bolognans thought of umbrellas ) Don’t worry about finding something awesome tasting to eat. One thing you have to know about Bologna, is that the food is stellar, everywhere you go. You wont have to check your Yelp reviews or your Travel Advisor…every corrner you turn you can get a plateful of grilled vegetable with slabs of cheese, or a flavorful meat dish with spaghetti bolognaise. Yes, meat sauce was invented here. Usually Italian marinara sauce is just tomatoes without the meat. Even though they built walkways with ornate, towering tunnel-like roofs over them, instead of inventing umbrellas…they totally excelled at food flavors and superior taste. I dont usually eat cheese in the States, but I was totally macking on it in Bologna
The hype about Bologna is a whole lotta Bologna because city is a little bit of a worn out shit-hole that’s knee deep in graffiit tags. But it’s definiely worth dropping by for an afterrnoon tour, and a kick ass lunch, no matter what you order.