So, let’s see… where were we? We were in Bologna, in the middle of a film festival and had retired to our (very central) hotel in the city.
After a comfortable and quiet night’s sleep (en.art-hotel-commercianti.com/) we breakfasted in the basement with an assortment of people from U.S.A. and elsewhere in Europe. There were both single people and families staying in the hotel and a couple of High School groups from the states. I would say that, apart from some concerns about the strange drinks on offer (barley coffee, anyone? I seem to remember this being popular in the ’70s but this is the first time I’ve seen it since), I am sure this breakfast went down well with the majority.
I certainly enjoyed my fruit, cereal and bread (lots of gluten free available), proper coffee and pastries. There were also meat things provided but I didn’t bother to look at them.
After breakfast we wandered through the narrow streets to the Joan Miro exhibition in the Palazzo Albergati ( http://www.palazzoalbergati.com/ ).
This exhibition was fascinating. I find that Miro’s colours and shapes are strong emotional triggers and I particularly enjoyed his Japanese inspired graphics but, as I wandered through the rooms, I felt at times as though the commentary and the lavish praise heaped on Miro was a little over the top. I was reminded of a favourite film from my childhood; The Rebel with Tony Hancock. Why I’m not quite sure… perhaps you could see this exhibition yourselves and enlighten me.
On our last full day we had planned to visit MAMBO, Bologna’s Museum of Modern Art, followed by an afternoon in the Archaeological Museum. Sadly, our last full day was a Monday. More alert travellers would have remembered that, in Italy, as in other countries all around the world, many museums are closed on a Monday. We are obviously not alert travellers.
Our fall back plan was to take a taxi to the basilica Santurario di Madonna di San Luca on the hill above Bologna. We climbed to views of the town; on the one side a flat horizon like the rim of a dinner plate and on the other the foothills of the Appenines.
At the top we conferred; the walk back couldn’t be too hard could it? How wrong we were. After 2 kilometers and 300m descent down stone steps and sloping slabs our knees and ligaments were very unhappy indeed.
At the bottom of the steps we caught the bus back into town (No. 20 to Pisano- make sure you get the bus in the right direction!).
After a period of rest and recuperation we consulted the oracle (IPad) for touristic inspiration and found the Teatro Anatomico, a lecture theatre complete with marble slab and statues of both eminent scientists and of two raw skinned men. Gruesome but fascinating.
The Teatro is situated in the Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, the oldest university building in Bologna dating back to the sixteenth century.
This building also houses the Biblioteca and the Stabat Mater Hall where Einstein gave a series of lectures in 1921. While standing in Einstein’s footsteps in this hall, spouse pointed out a wrought iron gateway in the interior wall. It exposed a lengthwise view of the Biblioteca; hundreds of rows of books stretching for a great distance as if in opposing mirrors. At the far end a tiny little ant-like man strode across the gap.
On our last morning in Bologna there was just enough time to rush to the Archaeological Museum, two minutes walk from the hotel, and spend an hour wandering the displays. It is fair to say that this museum is more educational and intellectual than any other Archaeological museum I have visited and I imagine that is the result of Bologna’s long academic history. I never in my life imagined that there were as many stone axe heads remaining in the world as were displayed here and the sheer number of exposed neolithic burials is overwhelming. I know that sounds miserable and even boring but, within this museum, you can immerse yourself in the past and wallow in the absolute glory of a beautiful city that places so much importance on knowledge, intellect and understanding. And that’s no Baloney but it is Bologna.