Monday, December 3, 2012

Full of Bologna and Loving it

I don't have anything clever to say and haven't written in this blog in a few days and that is husband arrived in Assisi on Thursday night and we've been busy together ever since.  Thursday was an excruciatingly long day for me.  I knew that Joe had left Boston in the afternoon of Wednesday and that he had a Boston to New York to Madrid to Rome journey and that his plane landed safely in Rome but beyond that.....I knew nothing but the fear and anticipation that comes when there is no communication.

Years ago, this would have been the norm, wouldn't it?  A person would tell another the day of arrival and magically, without the assistance of a GPS, iPhone, iPad, text message or pay phone, that person would show up and everyone would simply be happy for the safe arrival.  Well, times have changed and everyone is plugged in, tuned in, messaged and beamed up in some way. So, when Joe arrived in Rome and picked up his rental car, we entered a dead zone.  His phone does not work in Italy and I had the Italian cell phone.  All we had was an agreement.  He would arrive at our friend's place of work and they would call me when he did.  But it felt so strange.  Joe, off my radar.  Me, off his.  All I had in between was my faith that he would arrive safely and when he did, I offered a prayer in thanksgiving.  Safe and sound.  A bit tired but very happy to see me and to be back in Umbria.

We spent two days visiting our favorite places in Assisi, a visit to our favorite trattoria and a Sunday lunch to a new favorite place with an old favorite friend and then, we were off on what I call "Joe's Vacation" to a new place, together, in our rental car, side by side with our GPS mounted on the windshield and our cell phone tucked inside my purse.  Bologna was the next stop and as we drove away from Assisi, we knew we were ready for a new adventure.

Bologna is a lovely, lovely city.  The old and very large university of Bologna is responsible for the culture here.  Thousands of students and educators everywhere.  The average age of the person on the street seems to be twenty.  Everyone has a dog.  You would never have to ask a shop clerk if any item comes in black.  Its all you see, everywhere.  Even the kids, all who are well behaved and happy, wear dark colored clothing.  Its lively, and alive, every minute of the day. A medieval city, without walls, with all the stops pulled out.  It looks dangerous but it is very safe.  It looks gritty but it is genteel and pretty.  It makes me think I'm in Barcelona, not in Italy until I pass yet another cafe or bar, all of which have the distinctive smell of coffees that can only be found in Italy.
And, while this is THE food capital of Italy, no, the world, I haven't seen any seafood so it can't be Barcelona!

If there is a custom that makes Bologna even more special, it is the "Aperitivo".  The Italian version of "tea", the meal between lunch and dinner.  Aperitivo bars are everywhere and always full in the early evening.  Some come, enjoy a drink and a snack and move on.  Others come, drink and snack for hours.  Bar owners use the finger foods that they serve along with the drinks as their competitive edge.  The guy who has the best, wins.  So, two drinks, a mini-meal that can be called "dinner" will set you back all of fourteen euros if that much.  So, why aren't these people fat?   Why are young Bolognese women all slim and nice looking?  It remains a mystery.  Or is it that they eat and live like Italians, not like Americans eating Italian food like Americans.  The women wear more make up than I've seen in any other part of the country and everywhere, you see couples embracing and kissing.  They all seem to be in love all the time.  Maybe that bears truth to what I was told by my new Danish friend Elna.  If you love yourself, you take care of yourself.

We're loving every minute.  We've walked, taken a tour bus through the city and had a walking tour graciously offered by three of our best Italian friends, Giorgio, Cinzia and Cristina Luxardo, who met us for Sunday lunch yesterday at a very local trattoria.  They gave us a good overview of the city. Two of them lived here as university students.  They told us about the quirky things that make Bologna what it is.  They shared their love of this city and when we parted, we knew so much more and had so much more to learn.

We leave tomorrow but for now, its time to digest and rest up because tomorrow, we're off to what has been described as THE most beautiful of all the cities in Italy.

We're starting to sound very Shakespeare or is it "Kiss me Kate" that's running through my mind..... We're off to Verona.......

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