Ode to Bologna

Ode to Bologna

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021

The local newspaper, il Resto di Carlino, published an open letter from Roberta Capua who is originally from Naples and was Miss Italia in 1986. She has been a television personality for about 22 years and has now lived in Bologna for more than 14 years. She recently wrote an open letter to the paper about her love for the city. Since I feel the same way I translated the letter (with a few uncertainties) but nothing major. There are some local references that I explain in the footnotes.

Lucio Dalla1 was right, in the center of Bologna you couldn’t lose even a child. This city is big and small at the same time, it’s good natured and lively, it’s secular and catholic, it’s politically left and moderate. It remains a living room on a human scale, but elegant and it’s not for nothing that Bologna now is at the peak classification of places where one lives better. Who deserves the credit? The politics?

More than anything it’s the people. Around here there is imagination and ingenuity, health and five stars (the real ones not grillini2), culture and science that pay homage to the oldest university3. Everything that unites a solid social fabric makes this a land a place of the heart.

If you come by here you stop and never want to leave. It’s no coincidence that the virologists these days make it the benchmark of health excitement exactly here at Bologna guided by professor Pierluigi Viale and that the experimentation with monoclonal antibodies done at Policlinico S. Orsola4. As it’s not an accident that around here the economy has withstood better the force of the antivirus prohibitions and closures. “Bologna dreams” was the slogan of the culture minister Nicola Sinisi (1987). Bologna still dreams. Bigger and better than ever.

Roberta Capua

  1. Lucio Dalla was a very popular Italian singer who was born and I think lived in Bologna all of his life. If you are interested you can read more about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucio_Dalla
  2. A political movement in Italy is called the “Five Star Movement” and was founded by the comedian Beppe Grillo and his adherents are called “grillini”. He’s a pretty interesting guy although I regard the movement that he founded as the Party of “NO” without a plan to get to “YES”. You can read more about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beppe_Grillo
  3. The university of Bologna, Alma Mater Studiorum, is the oldest university in the world having been founded in 1088. Here is yet another link for those interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Bologna
  4. Policlinico S. Orsola is the largest hospital in Bologna founded in 1592 (a lot of old stuff here). Health care in Bologna is very good. And of course I’m going to provide a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Policlinico_Sant’Orsola-Malpighi

Now to change the subject… We’ve been listening to a lot of music lately and a lot of that has been jazz and classical, two genres that I have largely ignored unless they were in a sound track of a film. Laura’s father was a big aficionado of both so she has a lot of CDs of his. In addition she is a big fan of Davit Garrett who I had never heard of. He’s kind of a rock star violinist. He plays all kinds of genres and is very good. He doesn’t make any list of the most popular or best violinists today but he obviously appeals to a broad audience.
Here are links to two YouTube videos – the first is one is a documentary film and you can see David in action, the second is a very demanding classical piece.

First  David Garett

Next something appropriate for the new year – “vaffanculo” means “fuck off” in Italian.

And of course I can’t conclude without a Baci saying:

There is no beauty without a touch of strangeness.
Non c’è bellezza senza un pizzico di stranezza.

Edgard Allen Poe

Happy holidays to all. 

P.S. Let me know what you think of the music and if you were already familiar with David Garrett.

2 Responses to “Ode to Bologna”

  1. susan frey Says:


    Enjoyed David Garrett short documentary, I hadn’t heard of him before. I found it inspiring. I’ve been playing the violin for 17 years and I still consider myself a beginner. The bravest things I’ve done is busked on Irving Street and played in a quartet at Java Cafe at the beach. My husband plays the guitar and we’ve played a few parties together. I think you Blog is great, I enjoy reading about your life in Bologna.

  2. Joe Says:

    Hi Susan,

    I knew that you’d been playing the violin. I think that you said fiddle which alludes to the type of music that you play. I’d say you need to be pretty fearless to be busking. But that’s how “Dance Monkey” started in Australia. I didn’t know that you had gotten married. Congratulations! We both have enough experience to deal with another person always in our lives. It certainly beats the alternatives. I’m glad that you like my blog. It’s fun to do but lately (since things are locked down pretty tightly here at the moment) there’s not much opportunity for inspiration. That will change after awhile.


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