So I took a cheapish flight from Budapest to Bologna with Wizz – a Hungarian budget airline. It was fairly agricultural experience; penned in like animals going to slaughter in a tin shed in 35 degrees to eventually walk out to the airplane – budget airlines don’t get airbridges! However, just over an hour after take-off, we arrive in Bologna. Still Europe and so no customs, questions or queuing; just find your luggage and wander out to the airport bus.
The heat is also fierce in Bologna, but the entire city is covering in colonnades to shade you from the worst. As you know Ms Pacifica does like an onion dome, but a close second is a colonnade, and so we have relinquished one for the other here. They come in many iterations.
I stay in a small darkish but very cute hotel/apartment that is steam-punk style with suitable copper pipes and clocks.
My Italian friend Cecilia is meeting me the next day – but in the interim has sent me a long list of things to see and do and eat! Santo Stefano and the Seven Churches, I’m thinking 7 churches… give me a break! but find that the 7 churches are an all-in-one deal and as they have just kept building on, and you can go from one to the other. My favorite is the circular sanctuary/ sepulcher which is a replica of one in Jerusalem where in each of the arches a knight can rock-up on horseback…. Or anyway that is my story. It was built on the site of a former pagan temple: now you’re talking! That was the last time women were in charge of things. This one was attributed to Isis an Egyptian goddess that the romans appropriated, who was the goddess of the divine feminine. Nice.
Also there are twin towers (slightly more masculine) although with dodgy foundations obviously.
In the main square they are setting up a stage and Cecilia adds to my list; you need to go to the outdoor cinema in the main square for the first night of the summer series free movies. Being Italy and a Monday night this starts at 10pm! However as I am on my own I go and sit in the beautiful square with around 2000 others and watch a retro movie from the 20’s about Italians in New York with English subtitles. The movie was ok but the environment was spectacular. As the dark blue sky and sliver of moon turned to complete darkness, the normal garrulous Italians are spell-bound and silent and at midnight I sneak away and wander back to my steam-punk nest! Still happy in a sleeveless dress as the temperature is down to a pleasant 25 degrees.
The next day I come across a spectacular sculpture series hidden in the back of a little church (Santa Maria della Vita) and which you have to pay for, but I was the only one there and saw the following amazing terracotta figures which they are dating to 1463-1490 early in the Renaissance called the Compianto sul Cristo Morto by Niccolò dell’Arca which seems extraordinarily expressive for the times.
After a very Italian lunch at a shared table, like an upmarket food court I head to the station for the train to Padova. Whilst sitting happily at the station Cecilia informs me to both – watch my luggage (this is not such a good place!) and also tells for to look at the wall near platform 1 where the remnants of a terrorist bomb explosion that went off in 1980 and killed 85 and injured 200+ during the peak of August crowds and still one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Europe. The perpetrators of the bombings are still unknown and although people were incarcerated, it is linked to almost every spy agency and terrorist organization in Europe including Carlos the Jackal! This somewhat dampened my calm aperitivo. So having read this far, I can divulge the city is known to the three t’s representing Towers, Tortellini and Tits! Not a bad mix.
Arriving in Padova, a few minutes before Cecilia who is driving I spend a few minutes listening to a piano player entertaining the crowds on a public piano in the station. For applause not money, he eventually gets sick of it and gets up, puts his backpack on and wanders out. What a talent.
We drive up country roads to our charming country accommodation and a welcome glass of prosecco from our host and then change our restaurant choice at his recommendation and head a couple more kilometres up the road to a family-run place in the hills for delicious dinner on the terrace overlooking the hills as the sun finally sets.