Posts Tagged With: Bologna

Monster mice, uncouth statues and cuteness!

Buongiorno a tutti,

Well it’s been a mixed bag these last couple of weeks. My friend came out to see me which was lovely! We met in Bologna and had a day there wandering around the city. I like Bologna. It’s young and vibrant because it has quite a big university there. It feels very much alive compared to the sleepy little town in my area. However, the weather left much to be desired. The thing that Italy really excels in is it’s ability to enable its patrons to relax in glorious sunshine in piazzas with glasses of prosecco and nibbles. It’s not as  entertaining when it’s overcast and raining. Half in an attempt to get out of the rain and/or warm up, and half in an attempt to appease my church-adoring neighbour, we went into the churches and so I saw a new side to the Bologna that I’d seen before.

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This was a memorial dedicated I think to just the pilots of one of the world wars.

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And we discovered this sort of library / museum which I’d never been into before. The building was nice in itself but they also had a lovely collection of illustrations and prints which was quite inspiring.

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This  was taken in the Basilica of Santo Stefano. The Basilica looks relatively small from the outside but it’s well worth going into as it goes a lot further back and contains a little museum and erboristeria (like a chemists with just natural stuff). This was taken inside one of the connecting rooms. I think it looks rather majestic! I shall have this in my palace when I get one.

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This delicate little lady forms part of the Neptune sculpture in the main piazza. Even the pigeon looks shocked.

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What is the consensus on this building?  It’s the main cathedral. There were at least a couple of other churches in the same style. I’m not sure I like the tatty, unkept brickwork design!

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And these are some terrapins in the Giardino della Montagnola. The lake there was absolutely full to the brim with them! Very cute.

Then we went back to Sarnano. The previous week, sitting on my terrace in beautiful sunshine, I’d imagined all the things I could show her. And then there was just torrential rain, and it was cold and there was fog. We did do a bit of sight-seeing but not very inspiring. By the end of the trip I felt like I should give her a refund on her flight! And the SECOND she left, the sun came out.

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The moment my friend got on the train, the blustery cold overcast weather turned miraculously into this… This was taken on Monte Conero overlooking the lovely towns and beaches of Sirolo and Numana.

Later that day, I went to the fishing lakes in Montecosaro which I’d heard about a while back but were always closed when I wanted to go. This time they were open and they were lovely to  have a wander around. Not only that, just before we were about to head home we came across a group of nutria. Nutria are basically big mice that like to swim and hang out near the water. Really very cute.

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This was one of the fishing lakes. Each lake has a different selection of fish (victims!). The fish need to be thrown back in when they’ve been caught. I was wondering if they become increasingly difficult to catch. If I’d been merrily eating away and then had my mouth pierced before being hauled out of the water, I simply wouldn’t go back near the edges of the lake again. I imagine there’s a survivors group in the middle.

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Look at this nutria’s little hands!!!!

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Isn’t he adorable?!

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They don’t make the most elegant swimmers but they go like the clappers! I want a nutria!!!!!

My other ex-pat friend is here for a couple of weeks and on Thursday we went to watch a man playing blues in San Ginesio. It was a nice evening, great food. Not as atmospheric as some of the other similar events I’ve been to but then I think that was mainly because we needed to see our food!

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This is Pierluigi Petricca, a very talented guitarist!

In terms of events, I did go to one in Sarnano’s theatre a couple of weeks ago to hear about how the local spa waters were discovered. It was good, though perhaps a bit technically challenged with the lighting and sound! I was keen to take lots of photos but my abilities weren’t up to it with the lighting. Anyway, in summary, the guy that discovered our special thermal waters was a very talented and interesting man, and the water itself  is full of minerals and drinking them will cure almost everything. This year, I shall get some!

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In other exciting news this week I’ve had my first watercolour painting lesson. It was great – lovely setting and with lovely people. I felt like I’ve already learnt a fair bit after just two hours and can’t wait to get started properly. A while back my strategy was to do a “painting a day” which just never happened. It’s remarkable how life just seems to get in the way and I don’t even have a job as an excuse! I’m still keen to do something along those lines though so I hope this will give me a bit of a kick start.

It’s all go in my little hamlet this week! We’ve had 3 kittens and lots of little rabbits born and we had 7 little chicks born a week or two before. In summary, it’s all very cute here at the moment.

I think that’s about it from me for now. I hope you all have splendid weeks.

x

 

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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

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