Friday, October 7, 2011


I am actually sitting in a public internet area in the Piazza Maggiore in the center of Bologna, Italy. I came in here to hide from the current downpour.. the first I have actually seen since I arrived in Italy 3 weeks ago. The weather has been perfect .. crisp and cool in the mornings and evenings, and a bit toasty during the day. Anyhow, Bologna is not quite what I expected it to be... it is a decent sized bustling city with lots of character.

I am staying in my first hostel ever, on the outskirts of the city.... by far the cheapest place I could find. At first, I thought it was a bit of a shithole, but honestly, it has what I need.. clean sheets, decently clean bathrooms, and nice people.. from everywhere you can imagine. There are a ton of people from England and obviously Italy, then Germany, Spain and I actually met an older man from Poland last night when I was sitting out in the patio of the hostel. I also met a Pakistani family at the train station.

My wallet and passport sleeps with me at night.. I literally cuddle with my money while I am sleeping. Bizarre maybe, but there is no way in hell I am getting stranded alone with no money and no passport. I have already experienced a few occasions of almost being or actually being ripped off.. due to the fact , im sure, that I am obviously American, and blonde. My first meal alone, I asked the waitress what she liked... you know what she pointed to...the freaking Lobster. First of all, the lobster was 18 euros.. by far the most expensive meal on the menu, second of all, I did not come to Italy to eat lobster. She seriously thought I was a moron. So, I smiled, and told her I would have the pizza. For 7 euros.

Another example.. i have taken the taxi twice to my hostel... one driver charged me 17 euros. The other charged me 11. On a more positive note, my lunch yesterday was at a place called Trattoria Belfiore, which I hunted down out of my guidebook. It was a small and charming, dimly lit restaurant with lots of Italian businessmen and a couple of families. The pleasantly plump owner immediately came to my table and tried the best he could to explain everything on the menu to me. I chose Verdura Mixta, which was a delcious plate of zuchinni, potatos, squash, and other veggies grilled in olive oil. For my main dish, I wanted to try something local, so he broughtme Togliatelle alla bolognese, which consists of long fat noodles with bolognese sauce.. a meat sauce. I washed it all down with Prosecco.. the famous sparking wine of Italy. I am continuing to love tradition of drinking wine at every meal, every day.

This morning, I was wandering the side streets near the Piazza Maggiore, in search of the open air market I have been reading about. An incredibly nice Italian woman came to me and led me to the most incredible market I have ever seen in my life... Endless displays of meat, fruit, veggies, baked goods, wine, cheese, and more lined the side streets. By far, the best market I have seen in my life.

This weekend, I am working my way through the museums, cathedrals, and gardens of Bologna as well as I can...Yesterday, I visited an old museum full of beautiful artwork from the Middle Ages. Today, I am on a mission to find a tower I can climb, in order to view the apparently breathtaking view of the entire city and surrounding landscape. I am intrigued by the towers of Bologna, because one day, there was over 200 towers that rose above this city... built by noble families as symbols of their prestige and wealth. And only a few are still standing, and even fewer are sturdy enough to climb.

I would love to go to the theater here, the Teatro Communale, for a ballet or an opera. The thing I am most excited for is my cooking class I will be taking on Monday morning before I leave Bologna... at a place called Gli Amici di Babette... a local cooking school. After that, my journey takes me to either Florence or Venice. I have yet to decide, and I must soon. They are in completely opposite directions of each other.


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