0538 The Leaning Tower of Bologna (Ita 057—new)

Bologna Travel Blog

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There’s supposed to be an H.I. hostel right outside Bologna so I decide to head straight in that direction, on foot.  I figure it’s a good chance to enjoy the countryside and see various facets of the city.  Lately I’ve been maybe a bit too focused on just seeing the old historical district of each city…

 

But as I pass through scruffy neighborhoods, on through industrial districts… past apartment developments, and finally past open cornfields, I start getting really irritated at these folks for putting their hostel way out in the middle of nowhere… And I don’t have a reservation, so it’s really going to piss me off if there’s no vacancy…

 

There is vacancy, so I quickly drop off my stuff, and head back to the city--  taking the bus this time…

 

I don’t have real big expectations for Bologna.

  I’ve seen so many historical city centers and architectural styles, that I wonder if Bologna really can offer me anything I haven’t seen yet…

 

But it does…


Soon after I delve into this city, I realize this truly is a wonderfully unique city.

 

The city is guarded by the ruins of several “gates” kind of like Rimini.  Once inside, the city becomes one vast labyrinth of beautiful porticos so you can explore pretty much the whole city in the shade, making it one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in the world.  The city is bustling and alive with college students, business folks and a reasonable number of tourists…

 

My first stop is in the big circular park at the north end of town.

  There I find an abundance of very dramatic statues… A War Memorial with a fellow raising a tattered flag over the body of a fallen comrade…. A lion devouring a dying deer… a naked woman falling off a horse… It seems Italian sculptors really have a flair for the dramatic, and extremely violent depictions…

 

I head on in towards the heart of the city and to a cluster of magnificent, and yes, unique architectural masterpieces that reveal the layers of Bologna’s past.  There’s the massive cathedral which is marble medieval style in the bottom half and rugged brick Rennaissance style at the top--  sort of a fusion of the two eras…  There’s the castle… There’s a splendid fountain… there’s a community building rebuilt just like the 8th century original, with tall wooden beams supported a rugged midtimber structure at the top… It really gives you the feel of the tough, simpler times of the early Middle Ages…

 

… And then there’s the Leaning Tower of Bologna…

 

As I get closer to this tall structure, I get the impression that it’s leaning a bit and think “that’s impossible--  surely a narrow brick structure like that would topple over if it were leaning…”

 

But on closer look I find an inscription that gives the bizarre story of this structure.

 

 

As soon as it was built it started to tilt.  The idea then was to build another tower next to it to replace it… but that one started to tilt to.  After multiple attempts over the centuries to straighten it out, after seemingly endless disasters, fires, wars, and engineering mishaps… Somehow, the tower is still standing…

 

It seems almost a symbol of the resilience and endurance of this land…

 

I wander on up and down the portico streets of Bologna.  One thing I can’t seem to find are any of those convenient little Bangladeshi run call centers/cybercafĂ©s… Finally I see a guy that looks South Asian and asks him where they’re at.  He points me in the right direction, and on the east side of town I find about 20 of them all clustered together…

 

After checking my email I head out for one last tour of the town.

  Wandering through the university sector I find the a plaza with hundreds of students sitting in circles on the pavement passing around bottles of beer… A couple of cops in police cars nearby, just watching…

 

An interesting glimpse at the more youthful side of Bologna…

 

It’s too late to catch a bus back to the hostel, but I don’t really mind the hike this time.  I’ve seen so much this day, so it’s a good chance just to unwind and soak it all in…

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Bologna
photo by: travelfan1963