Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ciao Bologna !

I have always heard that when you travel as I am doing, you meet people from everywhere. Well, since my last blog post, I have met a girl from the Bronx, Martha, a 23-yr. old solo traveler who has quickly become a good friend of mine. She's living in my room, and as soon as I asked her where she is from, and New York came out of her mouth, I honestly felt relieved. She was the first traveling American I have met thus far.

Besides Martha, I made a couple of friends here from Amsterdam, Spain, Australia, and Italy as well. It's really amazing to hear people's stories, why they are traveling, about where they have been, and where they plan to go next. The more people I talk to about their adventures, the more places I want to see. Martha and I will be meeting in Rome at the end of the month, once she finishes up  her month-long 6-country trip.

We spent Saturday together exploring more of Bologna... the highlight was climbing up one of the "Due Torre," an infamous tower in Bologna. It was quite the workout, but quite worth it. The view at the top was completely breathtaking.

Then, we had 2 or 3 run-ins with mimes on the street... All we wanted was a picture, and all they wanted, was our money. Apparently, I was not supposed to snap a photo of them without paying. One literally chased me down the street! I've become quite stingy with my money, and am not about to blow it on a mime. I have also grown very fond of the no-tipping policy they have here in Italy. No complaints there at all.

Martha and I walked the entire city, from bottom to top. We finished off our trek with a delicious meal in a laid back restaurant called, "L'Osteria del Montesino"... another good find out of my now-beloved guidebook. We shared wine, a plate of "formaggio" (cheese), and I had turkey for my main course. We decided to go for a night on the town, along with a few others from our hostel.... quite the scene on Zamboni St.----the street where Bologna's university is-- which is also the oldest college in Europe.

On a side note, I love ordering a vodka with soda here, because it is unheard of... every bartender looks at me like I am insane. Last night, one actually gave me one full glass of vodka, and one full glass of soda!

And, today was my last full day in Bologna... I spent it with Martha and Bram (from Amsterdam) at mass in the Basilica San Domenico, which is by the far the most beautiful cathedral I have seen so far. This morning was my third time visiting the church in 5 days because I am plainly awestruck by it. The service was unsurprisingly wonderful, with a beautiful choir.

Then we asked some Italians on the street for a good, local place to eat. They happily brought us to a local bookstore with a restaurant built inside of it. We loved it, because there was not a tourist in sight and the food was cheap and fabulous. We all ate "Tagliatelli di ragu".. a classic bolognese pasta and meat dish. Yum.

Tomorrow, I will be packing my bags and headed to Florence, but first I will be taking a 3-hour cooking class in the morning... I feel like that will be the perfect way to end my stay in Bologna- which is said to be the culinary capital of Italy. I've decided to travel south to Tuscany, as the weather is getting colder. Once I've hung in Florence for a bit, I'll take a day trip to the Chianti country and tour a wine vineyard, and then head down to Siena. From there, we shall see where this journey takes me.

Chin Chin!     Cheers! 

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