Dreaming In Italian

Snow in BO

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

There used to be quite a bit of snow in Bologna in the winter. I know that about 4 years ago it had one pretty deep snowfall – about half a meter. I was told that in the last 3 years it has hardly snowed at all. Even in the snowier past it rarely snowed before December. As I came out of the gym on Monday, November 13th I was amazed to see it snowing. Not just tiny little delicate flakes but big fat wet ones. I talked to the owner of the tobacconist (tabaccheria) and said that I found it fantastic and he said that so did he.


The two towers and snow


Can’t read the route number on the front of the bus because of the snow

Umbrellas are helpful

After taking some photos as shown above I took a bus back to the house. It was supposed to continue to snow for another 2 or 3 hours so I thought that I’d let it accumulate and then come back to take more photos. I really had no need for an umbrella because I could walk under the porticos just about everywhere. The problem is that sooner or later you need to cross a little street and then – SLUSH. When I got back home I had to change shoes to let that pair dry out.

Snow in Piazza Maggiore – and slush!

The little terrace at the apartment on Santo Stefano

The almost bare chestnut tree in the courtyard. (that’s actually a horse chestnut)

It was really such a great thing to see this snow. Since I’m never here in winter I thought that I’d never see it.

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Lunch in the country

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

I never did get around to going to Sardegna or Sicilia. I had talked with my friend Liu’ about going to Trieste but it’s too far for a day trip and we couldn’t find a weekend free. So Liu’ suggested a day trip for a good lunch in the country. It seems that she scours guidebooks for good places to go and to eat. So we agreed to go on a Sunday to Bertinoro (which I’d never heard of) and then to a highly recommended place for lunch. We also agreed that she would drive and pay for gas and autostrada tolls and I’d foot the bill for lunch.

Bertinoro is one of so many little Italian towns with a lot of history and built on a hilltop for defensive reasons and, in this case, with a very strong fortress should the need arise. So on a foggy morning we left Bologna at about 10 in the morning hoping for some sun later in the day.

I, of course, forgot to take some pictures at appropriate times so I searched the web for some.

The old town from the air – not taken by me obviously

The Rocco – fortress. It is now a hospital so unfortunately we couldn’t go in and look around. Also a good place for antennas.

Liu’ clutching her guidebook near the Rocca

Part of the Rocca with impressive vines and a little lawn area – according to Liu’ and her guidebook the Rocca was never conquered. Maybe the enemies took one look and decided to forget it.

A great view from the little park beside the Rocca

A very cool wall we encountered on our walk back down to where we parked the car.

Next we were off perhaps the main attraction – the lunch. We had two different antipasti that we shared and I honestly can’t remember what I had for the pasta course – only that it was good. The dessert however was quite memorable.

Wild mushrooms was one of the antipasti

For dessert – “The grande finale” according to the menu. A terrific assortment of sweet stuff

I’m not sure how old the building was but I would say you’d count the years in centuries rather than decades.

Waiting for the first course

The room complete with stone wall and ancient timbers

The autumn colors of the vines outside

Wild mushrooms await their destiny

Cute “bottle tree”

It’s always nice to get out and about especially with a good friend like Liu’.



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Trip to Giulianova

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

I have friends in Giulianova, in Abruzzo and decided to visit them on a weekend. It’s a relatively inexpensive (20 euros each way) 3 1/2 hour train ride from Bologna. I took some traditional Bolognese pastries as a gift and arrived on Friday evening. Aurelia picked me up at the train station and took me to their house and then we walked into town to do some shopping. I mention this mostly because at her favorite macelleria (butcher shop) the woman behind the counter who probably operates the place with her husband said that they were in New York on 9/11/2001. They had been planning to go to the twin towers that morning but fortunately were behind schedule when the attack occurred. Small world.

Bologna traditional pastries as a gift for Paolo and Aurelia. Actually the chestnut fritters on the left were for me and didn’t make to Abruzzo.

The major Piazza in Giulianova at sunset.

The next morning I walked around town taking some photos of anything that I found interesting and bought some flower for Aurelia. I have never seen flowers that looked like brain coral before and Aurelia said that they dry well so it was a good choice.

Painted utility cover in Guilianova

Another painted cover

And another

Decoration of a house in Giulianova – perhaps an artist lives there.

Flowers for Aurelia from a little open air market

The special event of the day was an outing on the boat that her husband Paolo owns with a partner, Marco. Paolo cooked penne with assorted seafood (clams, little bitty scampi, shrimp and cuttlefish). Aurelia says that it’s the only thing that he knows how to cook and does it, oh, 3 or 4 times a year. Then I went out for about a 2 hour sailing excursion with just Paolo and Marco. I’ve really only been on one sail boat before – a 30 foot one on Chesapeake Bay about 45 years ago. This one was considerably bigger at 46 feet. That extra 16 feet makes a lot of difference. I was simply a passenger who watched with amazement the occasional frenetic activity followed by a fairly long boring period of just letting the wind do it’s work. Seems like a lot of work for such a trip. Paolo said that it takes 14-16 hours to sail from Giulianova to Croatia so that’s probably about 13 1/2 to 15 1/2 hours of really not much to do other than go with the flow.

Paolo and Marco’s boat

Paolo’s lunch aboard the boat

Dante (one of their sons) and Aurelia

Just a pale faced passenger protected from the sun

Paolo at rest


Heading back into port

Serious fishing boats in the harbor

One of the things that surprised me was the number of serious looking fishing boats. I knew that the city is a seaside resort packed with people in the summer but had no idea that it must haul a heck of a lot of fish out of the Adriatic sea. I’d like to spend a day on one of those some day to watch the action – probably like sailing a lot of slack time punctuated by frantic activity.

Aurelia, Dante and Paolo

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Old Bologna

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Not far from the library where I volunteer there is an entrance to an underground area that once was a passageway to the other side of the street. It had shops inside like some subway stations in New York. Now it has become an exhibit space. I pass it every day when I leave the library to catch the bus back to where I’m living. So finally I decided to take a look at the exhibit. The earliest photographs are from 1875 and show the city much as it is today. There were some very interesting videos of two photos taken from exactly the same location and time of day that gradually transitioned from the old to the new. I can’t share those with you but I did take photo of photos that show much of the “recent” history of Bologna.

The entrance to the show

Piazza Maggiore in 1877. A huge open air market in the piazza.

The photo above shows this great piazza, the very heart of the city with the basilica of San Pietro (the patron saint of the city) on one side and Palazzo D’Acchursio (the seat of city government) on the other with a huge open air market occupying the piazza.

On the side of the city hall – still in Piazza Maggiore – a market for crockery. Taken in 1875


Piazza Maggiore in 1904 – there was a statue of the first king of Italy after the unification of Italy. San Petronio is on the right and I don’t know the name of the palazzo on the left.


The fountain of Neptune in 1904. Sala Borsa, then a financial center and currently the central library is on the right.


Removing the statue of Neptune for safekeeping during the second world war.

Photo of the bombing of Bologna during WWII. Made by the British.

During the bombardment of the city over 1000 civilians were killed. Some areas of the city were clearly heavily bombed (via Marconi for example) where all of the buildings are new (well, newish). Also many historic buildings were fully or partially destroyed but since they were historical were rebuilt and are almost indistinguishable from the originals.

Some photos of the destruction due to the bombing of Bologna. I recognize where this is and never knew that it was heavily damaged.

A plaque that is still on via Santo Stefano – “Request for aid during the air raids” along with an address and 3 phone numbers.

Posters for elections in the early 50s

Post war and post Mussolini the country returned to the voting booths.

Photos from the top of the highest tower – Asinelli – in 1958

A striking picture. The area is little changed today other than the absence of the tram tracks.



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