Day 10: Venice to Mantua to Bologna
Bologna Travel Blog› entry 10 of 11 › view all entries
"I'm getting duomoed out." -- Brian after visiting yet another duomo.
We begin our day by boating out of Venice and back to our waiting bus. As we leave we pass a large island that was once used to house people entering the city. Long ago, one had to live on this island for 40 days before being allowed to enter Venice. It was a way to prove that you weren't bringing any diseases into the isolated city. The 40 day stay was known as a quarte and it's where we get our term quarantine from. We also pass a bell tower that has a mechanical statue on top that rings the bell on every hour. In the 1700s the bell ringer knocked off an unsuspecting worker.
We stop in the sleepy town of Mantua for lunch. It's the birthplace of the poet Virgil in 70 BCE and not much is going on here the day we arrive.
We leave in the early afternoon and make way for Bologna, a city well known for its foods. It's where tortellini, lasanga and proscuitto ham were all first created. It's also in a region of Italy called Emilia-Romagna which is known for it's strong personalities. Mussolini, Pavorotti and Fellini all hail from this region (interestingly enough it's also the home of the largest fascist resistence group that opposed Mussolini during WWII).
The town (like most of Italy) is very, very, very old. The city was founded in 1000 BCE and the main town square has been in existence since 1200. The clock tower in the town square was built in 1444 (48 years before Columbus even got to America) and it still works. While we're in town we visit the University of Bologna, a world renown school that was the first in the world to allow dissection of human bodies for medical studies. It was founded in 1088 and is the oldest school in the world. Dante is one of its many noted alums.
Historically, the city is well-known for being oppositional to the Catholic Church (People here really don't like being told what to do).
We go into one of the few modern buildings in town--the city library. It was built in 2000 and when construction began, workers discovered the chosen site was on top of ancient Roman ruins. To preserve the findings, they created a glass floor that allows people to look down into the ruins while they surf the internet, read books or sip cappucinos inside the very modern library. I love libraries and this one is definitely my favorite ever.
We go to dinner with two other families from our tour. We find an outdoor restaurant in the heart of the city and enjoy the local cuisine. We share an appetizer of salamis, hams, Parmesan cheese and warm bread. For our entrees, Brian has lasanga which he loves. His claim is it's better than American lasanga as it's creamier and tastier. I try an asparagus tortellini which is also very yummy. We linger over dinner and enjoy the setting. A nice thing about Italy is that everyone is easy-going and people like to linger out late into the evening. It was a Wednesday evening and the streets were still crowded with families, couples and children way past 10pm. We finish with a cab ride back to the hotel and some sleep.