City views

7 05 2009

Last weekend my friend Hans visited me (and escaped just in time so as not to witness the derivatives nightshift… :-)) and besides showing him around some of the places I already know in Bologna we saw two spots I had not seen myself before.

The first one is quite a “risky” place because local superstition says that one will not graduate, if you climb the Torre degli Asinelli before. Well, I was feeling lucky and so I took my chances climbing 498 stairs as indicated on a sign at the bottom. Photo quality is not all that brilliant because I only had my mobile phone.

San Petronio (and San Luca in the background)

San Petronio (and San Luca in the background)

Torre numero due (Garisenda, by name) is really leaning quite a bit to the side, but it looks like that is about to be fixed.

Torre due

Torre due

In previous posts I have shown some pictures and told some stories of the canals in Bologna. And then I got a tip that there is a caffè with a little backside terrace, that is actually overlooking a little waterfall! It really exists and I found it!!

Downtown Bologna waterfall

Downtown Bologna waterfall

The name of the caffè is “Opera e tulipani” and it is in Via Alessandrini near Via Moline.

And we observed one other interesting thing connected with water that weekend – a street musician playing organ music on an instrument made out of water filled glasses. Interesting concept and “crystal clear” sound.





Sunday trip

22 03 2009

As the weather was not warm enough for a long trip to the sea and my health was not good enough for a run I rode my motorbike to one of the sites of the Parco Naturale Delta Po (Link!) and took a walk. Spring is coming!!

In the park... (Click on the picture for full gallery)

In the park... (Click on the picture for full gallery)

On the trip back I stopped at Piazza Maggiore for the “Scienza in Piazza” exhibition that was taking place also in Palazzo Re Enzo, allowing me a photo of Neptune from an unusual angle.

Neptune from above

Neptune from above





More Bologna insights

21 03 2009

A chilly Saturday afternoon set the scene for more Bologna exploration that first led me to the basilica and convent of San Domenico. On a number of days in winter when I could not use my bike to go to the school I have taken the infamous 59 bus, passing by this church set in the rear part of a square that also features some tombs on it without taking further notice.

Now what I realized only a short time ago is that this familiar sight actually is the place where San Domenico, the founder of the Dominican order, used to live and where he is buried now – in a tomb-monument designed by Nicola Pisano and also featuring sculptures by Michelangelo!

Tomb of San Domenico

Tomb of San Domenico

Another marvellous work of renaissance art are the wooden choir stalls by a master Fra’ Damiano of Bergamo richly designed with intarsia in the rear part of the church behind the altar (where the apse would be, but technically this is not an apse, but anyway – click here for the Wikipedia link to know more.)

The next surprise was of a completely different kind: as I went to buy a book at Feltrinelli some celebrities of the galactic empire were hanging out at the due torri.

Stormtroopers in Bologna

Stormtroopers in Bologna

Notice that Darth Vader stays behind in the middle of his bodyguards, while he sends out the guy with the funny hat on the left (next to the guy pointing) asking for directions.

And finally some advertising: Besides Sorbetteria Castiglione there is another gelateria I really like – Mauritius on via Riva Reno (click for link, but homepage only has the address). Anyway, just go and check it! Here is the link to Google Maps.





Another victim of those Austrians…

17 02 2009

One of the streets in the heart of Bologna I use often is named after Ugo Bassi, whose statue you can see at the picture below. Two things attracted my interest: A street in a very prominent place named after someone I had never even heard of before and the statue showing that he was a priest yet at the same time indicating he was a freemason – not such an obvious combination.

Ugo Bassi

Ugo Bassi

His story in short words: He decided to be a priest at 18 after an unhappy love affair (how is that for a start), became famous for his eloquent and enthusiastic preachings and for helping the poor. During the Risorgimento he became a follower of Garibaldi and supported the freedom fighters by tending to the wounded during and after the fights, getting wounded himself in battle. He did never bear any weapons, yet when he was caught he was accused of just that before a court martial and consecutively executed in Bologna on August 8th 1849 at the age of 48. (Click here for the full story on the online Encyclopedia Britannica)

About his affiliation with the freemasons I could not find anything searching the web, however a LinkedIn profile from a gentleman working at the European Commission appeared.





How to realize spring is coming to Bologna

17 02 2009

My low blog visitor statistics suggest that it is time for some new stuff here… ok, here we go. Last Saturday I went running in the afternoon (no, the foot issue is not resolved, next episode will take place tomorrow!) and realized that spring is showing its first signs. So for future or less experienced Bologna inhabitants, here is how to tell spring is arriving:

– suddenly there are many people in the streets offering to clean windshields at traffic lights

Not in Bologna...

Not in Bologna...

– there are less people in the streets wearing jackets that make them look like they live in Siberia
– not only hardcore smokers but also non-smoking young couples sit outside in parks or street cafes
– the parks (and my jogging route) are not only populated by cold-defying dog owners but also by people going for a walk or doing sports





The bridge of the blonde (girl, of course)

11 01 2009

Yesterday I altered and enlarged my running route along Bologna’s “Canale Navile”.  I have been posting before on the inner city canals resembling Venice, so here is another bit of info on Bologna history driven by my deep fascination with water.

As Bologna itself is not located on a river there was a need to build waterways for several purposes, including power for the silk mills (Via delle Moline!) that were the foundation of Bologna’s wealth and importance. Another important matter was transportation of goods in and out of the city.  For this purpose the Canale Navile was built in the 13th century and it was used until the first half of the 20th century, connecting Bologna with Ferrara and ultimately even with Venice by waterway. To make it navigable even upstream, a set of locks was constructed. The first one on my running route is “Chiusa del Battiferro”. (The bolognese however call the locks “sostegni”)

Chiusa del Battiferro

Sources hint it might have been constructed originally by Leonardo da Vinci… well who knows! It divides the waterway in two parallel streams, leaving a middle strip of land that can be used by runners.

So as I kept running downstream between the two canals I reached for the first time the spot where they reunite. And there is the bridge of the blonde!

Ponte della bionda

Ponte della bionda

It is a 16th century stone bridge of the official name “ponte nuovo” that has been renovated in 2004 by a private initiative. The sign next to it explained, that the bridge derived its name from a blonde girl living nearby that – let’s say “inspired” – the navigators passing this spot on their way in and out of Bologna.

Researching for this post I stumbled upon a huge amount of links with background info, all in Italian, find some of them below. If you are interested in local dialect, check the “Links” section of the Pontedellabionda.org page – it’s amazing!

Cultural association of the bridge

History and some technical info on navigating the Canale Navile

Article on canals in general

Page with pictures of Canale Navile and the Sostegni

The connection between the canals and the silk production





First term is over

25 12 2008

Finally made it… on Friday Dec. 19th at around 20.00 hrs I mailed the last piece of work for this first term to our strategy professor and that was that. Roughly three hours earlier I took the pictures below on a short shopping excursion around town center.

X-Mas in town 1

X-Mas in town 1

What followed was a very nice farewell dinner, packing stuff and a trip to Vienna the next day.

I had also managed to upload the pictures into a draft version of this post, but having filled up the following days in Austria so much with meeting friends, preparing for christmas through last-minute shopping and travelling on to my parents it is only now, six days later that I manage to write a few comprehensible words.

X-Mas in town 2

X-Mas in town 2

All in all this was an intense period of time, passing by in what seemed to be just an instant yet filled with so many new impressions that usually a year does not contain.

Just wanted to say Thank You to everyone who has been part of this!

And looking at the pictures again now, do I miss Bologna? Yes, I think I do – even though it feels very good to reconnect with my roots…!

X-Mas in town 3

X-Mas in town 3