Bologna, Scandalous Proportions and Muddy Water-flumes

Ciao!

I hope you’ve all had excellent weeks. I’ve been out and about a fair bit this week but I shall dedicate this blog post mainly to Bologna…

Bologna

I’ve just had a lovely weekend in Bologna. I’ve been meaning to go there for months so I’m pleased I finally got around to it. I went with the same friend I went to Rome with. I wasn’t on accommodation booking duty this time which meant we had a nice hotel (I advise anyone going on holiday with me to be responsible for the hotel booking). We even had coffee and tea making facilities in the room, a rarity in Italy.

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Unfortunately, the kettle didn’t plug into any of the sockets in the room (Italy has the most frustratingly random plug/socket situation involving a variety of different sockets catering for different plugs which, even more frustratingly to all intents and purposes, look exactly the same. If you buy anything electronic, it is a gamble whether you’ll be able to power it without having to buy an adapter) so the bulk of tea making proceedings actually took place in the corridor where we located the only socket that would work.

I really like Bologna – it’s lively and young and there are places to go and things to do. It’s a University town so I suspect that’s why it feels quite vibrant and there was a fantastic selection of bookshops everywhere. Bologna is the perfect place to go if it’s raining because most of the pavements are covered over. In fact, it has apparently the longest “portico” (covered walkway basically) in the world. All towns and cities should have porticos: It’s cooler when it’s hot, it’s dryer when it rains and it’s a great space-saving idea because accommodation and offices are built over the pavements.

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The start of the “longest portico in the world”…

There were big open tree lined spaces…

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This is the Giardini Margherita. Look at the guy balancing on the rope! It felt like London here…

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And this was taken from a park called “San Michele in Bosco”

Neptune’s statue: My “Guide to Italy” book said that Neptune’s naked lower half had to be concealed by bronze trousers to protect his scandalous proportions. How on earth do you create bronze trousers to go over a bronze lower half and then remove the bronze trousers later?! I think I’ve underestimated the flexibility of bronze as a sculpting material. That or my book has been telling porkies.

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Neptune and his scandalous proportions (you may need to zoom in!)

And there were other sculptures…

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I like the naturalness of the tail…

And there were leaning towers…

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This is a horrible photo. I meant to get a better photo but I forgot so I’m afraid you’re stuck with this one… However, they lean and they’re quite a symbol of Bologna and you can go up one (well, presumably both of them) for a good view. Not that we did.

And they had a market that reminded me of Camden Market in London…

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It even came complete with dreadlocked hippies and full finger skull rings…

Food wise there were lots of options but alas, nothing I could see that wasn’t Italian. I’d hoped it would be a bit more diverse (I WANT CURRY!!!!!!). I found what I think is one of my favourite all time restaurants: Cinque50. It had good reviews on Tripadvisor (I’d recommend downloading the app – it’s great for finding places to eat and things to do nearby). Alas it was Valentines Day so it was fully booked. We managed to negotiate a table all the same and had a lovely meal there and the waiter was really nice. I might be slightly biased – he seemed to think I was genuinely Italian after two sentences in. That’s never happened before. One day I hope to make it to three sentences without them cottoning on.

We also went to a new exhibition in Bologna to see Vermeer’s “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” painting. If you follow the blog you’ll know I like art so you may be surprised to discover that I really, really dislike big exhibitions. However, it’s good form to check every now and then to see if the things we dislike are still dislikeable, so in we went. We waited almost an hour to get in and then we were crammed like sardines into 5 or 6 rooms, unable to move whilst everyone listened to audioguides telling them how the long brush strokes in x painting represented the artist’s internal struggle against their childhood (hmm). Then everyone congregated in a room to “appreciate” the main painting. It’s a very good painting and an interesting portrait. I’m never sure if I can use pictures from other websites on this blog or not so here’s my interpretation of it drawn in the queue for memory jogging purposes. Obviously you’ll instantly know which painting I’m talking about now…(yup)

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Admittedly in this, her evocative mouth looks a little bit like she’s having a stroke.

In my opinion, it’s no better than any of the other paintings in there which were also beautifully painted, with interesting compositions and also by equally talented artists. If you eradicated the “fame” surrounding that painting and conducted a survey of the “art-lovers” that went to the exhibition about their favourite painting there – the Girl with the Pearl Earring would not have necessarily been a clear winner. And that’s how it should be! And if you removed the audioguide and the painting blurb telling people what they should like or dislike and how they should interpret and react to each of the paintings and instead encouraged them to think for themselves, then maybe more of them would have even noticed the fabulous trompe l’oeil cherubs holding the ceiling up! In summary, I still dislike big art exhibitions.

My Art progress

I’ve made some progress – I’ll post another blog update on this next week but in honour of San Valentino last week, here’s a sneak preview of a driftwood work…

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I hope you all had a good valentines day…

In other news, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on the beach this week collecting stuff… I think I have enough now to build a lifelike replica of a beach. One of the trips involved a rather perilous journey to Mezzavalle beach which was I imagine exactly what walking down a muddy water flume would be like.

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Mezzavalle. Don’t go when it’s been raining for months. I screamed the entire way down (it’s only reachable by boat and a 25 minute steep path / slide).

I’ve done a couple of language swaps this week (I speak Italian, they speak English and we correct each other as we go) which have been really good – at the moment I suspect I could go weeks without speaking Italian apart from barking orders at school so it’s been useful. I’ve been getting the kids at lunchtime to teach me Italian as well so that’s been quite entertaining. I’m also trying to read George R R Martin’s “Game of Thrones” in Italian. It has a LOT of pages. It’ll take me decades. But I’m reading it on Kindle which means I can tap words I don’t know and it brings up the dictionary so that’s handy.

Right, I think that’s about it for this week. I hope you all have good weeks!

x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Bologna, Scandalous Proportions and Muddy Water-flumes

  1. Peter G

    A belated comment, but it’s Lucio Dalla’s birthday on Tuesday, the concert from Bologna on TV last year was wonderful, and there’s something going on this year: http://www.bolognatoday.it/eventi/cultura/lucio-dalla-notte-bianca-via-azeglio-4-marzo.html

    • Thanks Pete!!! Sorry for slow reply. If i don’t do it straight away i forget! That would explain why there wasa Lucio Dalla thing on tv yesterday then! Shame i missed the thing in Bologna. Might time it better next year 🙂

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