Bologna Monday

Rick Steve’s is totally wrong. Bologna is very much worth a visit, and very much worth an extended stay. First off, breakfast at the Hotel San Donato is great. You can even make yourself a caprese salad. Or, choose yogurt and muesli, hard-boiled eggs, pastries, scrambled eggs, various meats, fresh fruit, a slice of tart, fruit compote — really what Mike would refer to as a “cornucopia of wonderfulness.”  And endless cups of coffee. Thus fortified, we are off to explore this seventh most populous city in Italy, which has been an urban center since 1000 BC.

 The oldest university in the world

Bologna Monday

Founded in 1088, the University of Bologna is the oldest continuously operating university in the world. A visit to the Archiginnasio allows us to experience student life as it was between 1563 and 1803 before the university moved to other buildings. The Archiginnasio was the main building of the ‘Studium’, as the University of Bologna was first called, from 1563 until 1803, when it became the location for the Institute of Science. It now houses a library.

The ceilings and walls are covered with coats of arms, which represent specific students who were considered leaders of their respective groups. Even in it’s earliest days, the students had rights and could rat on their professors, particularly if they were part of the “Denouncers of Professors” club. Take note, Kelly Conroy.

A moment in the Anatomical Theater

Built in 1637, this room was the place for watching and learning from the dissection of corpses. Allied bombs destroyed the theater in 1944, but it was restored using the remaining fragments as well as pictures and paintings from the past. The professor’s seat is ornate and forbidding, and is flanked by two skinless men. Statues and busts around the room are doctors from both ancient and modern times, including Hippocrates and Galen. The busts are apparently less important people, who didn’t rank high enough to get a whole body. Across from the main chair/throne is a statue of Gaspare Tagliacozzi holding a nose. Apparently, this Bologna native invented the nose job.

Hop on and then hop off

We are tourists, and so we tour. The hop on, hop off bus is a great way to make a circuit of the entire city, complete with a hilltop stop for a panoramic view. Bologna is a city of red tile roofs, and it’s a special moment to be able to see them, rolling out for miles. We make a full circuit, and then get off for lunch, a stroll, and a rest. On we go again, and hop off at the garden, which is really more of a park. We are expecting a botanical garden, but then we are foreigners and we rarely know what’s going on, so it’s just fine. We catch the last bus back to Piazza Maggiore. Weary of foot and with grumbling stomachs, we stop at the bar for beer, wine and olives, and then hoof it to Il Pescatore, a fabulous restaurant where the food is amazing even though not what we ordered. Or maybe it was…. Les and Mike spend time comparing iPhones.


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