One long weekend in Bologna, Italy:
- 4 museums
- 8 churches (but Santo Stefano counts as seven churches in one so that's 14)
- 1 art gallery
- 4 ice creams (one marscapone flavour, one muffin, one jasmine, one yoghurt-on-a-stick)
The medieval heart of Bologna is a fantastic place - ancient, scruffy, laid-back and slightly claustrophobic (all the streets are porticoed to keep off the sun, which makes the roads narrow ravines cut into the terracotta-coloured city). It is dominated by the university that occupies the old palazzos and whose students slob around on every corner and hold permanent political rallies in the main square. It's the oldest existing university in Europe, founded 1088 AD, and in 1732 appointed the first woman to officially teach at one.
The university was so prestigious that medieval professors got grand marble tombs carved with pictures of students slacking off.
Among the medieval remnants tucked away in odds corners are the famous towers.
There used to be about a hundred of them, built in the 12th and13th centuries, and they appear to have no practical function. They were just about showing off! The icons of the city are the Due Torre right in the centre (picture at top). They both lean. The shorter one leans a LOT.
Here's the view of the shorter one (48m) from above (97m).
The tower is, btw, hollow inside with just a spiral stair ... an old wooden, worn, rickety, UNSUPPORTED spiral stair that sags inward. It certainly made the ascent memorable.
One of the best things about Bologna is that they are, on the whole, not snotty about you taking pictures inside art galleries:
Which certainly makes a refreshing change.
Want to see more? Coming up: Bologna - the rude bits!