Off to the Veneto. We left the villa round 9:15 and headed for Bologna. We went through the mountains…literally. There were lots of tunnels around the Tuscany/Emilia-Romagna border. After about 1 ½ hours of driving we arrived in Bologna. We had no map of the city but did a pretty good job of finding the centro storico. We parked off of Piazza Cavour and walked to Piazza Maggiore. There was a band in the piazza (the Tolga Trio, except there were four musicians) playing sort of a Dixieland jazz. We went into the Basilica di San Petronio and looked at the astrological clock and did a quick lap around the church. They were refinishing the floor and the fumes were suffocating. The basilica was supposed to be the biggest ever, but after Rome heard of the plan they got jealous and cut off funding. So the façade is only about one third finished.
This is where Charles V was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1530.
Next we looked at the Fontana del Nettuno, with its sirens that spout water from all orifices.
Then we headed right down the Via Rizzoli to see the two leaning towers of Bologna, built in the medieval ages as symbols of wealth and prestige. It’s hard to see in pictures, but they really lean. Torre Garisenda is 165 feet tall and 10 feet off the perpendicular. Torre degli Asinelli is twice as tall and 7 ½ feet out of plumb.
We walked back to the Piazza Maggiore through the market streets, with stores selling fresh pasta and fish and veggies.
Then we hunted down Trattoria da Danio on Via San Felice. This was a neighborhood joint with great pastas. I OD’ed on meat…meat tortellini with meat sauce. I was taking Herman Melville’s advice: “First thing at Bologna: tried Bologna sausage on the principle that at Rome you first go to St Peter’s.”
And yes, we had our daily fix of gelato before leaving town…chocolate and blueberry.
Once outside of Bologna it started looking like the valley and I5. Flat, farmland, and hazy. We had entered the Po Valley. After a 40 minute drive we arrived in Vanzo, at the house I rented online from Giorgio. His wife met us there. Even though I had arranged to rent the two bedroom, they gave us the three bedroom. Although it doesn’t really have a living room (just a kitchen/dining room/couple of chairs in front of a fireplace) it’s perfect for the four of us. And I have my own room for the first time in over two weeks. Score! We followed Giorgio’s wife to the grocery store to stock up, then came home to unpack and relax until 7pm, when the pizzeria next door opened for dinner. It has a HUGE menu…I think you could eat there once a week for a year and never eat the same thing twice. And it’s way cheap. And good. We’re definitely off the beaten path here in Vanzo. Fewer people speak English and we didn’t see any other tourists all afternoon. It’s great!