The city of porticoes, Bologna
There is always a first time in everything. My first trip abroad and my first trip as a lonely traveler took place some years ago to Bologna Italy. To some, the name Bologna might not ring a bell despite the fact that there it functions one of the oldest universities in Europe. well, maybe some people will automatically associate the name with the famous spaghetti, Bolognese, though…
Anyway, whenever I am trying recall why did I choose Bologna I am feeling like walking on a foggy road, I know that might be something behind that fog but still can’t figure out what it is. Sometimes though ignorance it is a blessing, I do not think I really need to know why did I chose Bologna as my first destination, so, I will give it a rest and remember my adventure…
I arrived in Bologna waiting to be amazed and get a taste of Italy, and I was…oh yes…I truly was amazed!
Having music in my ears, courtesy to my headphones, and a coffee in my hand, courtesy to a local coffee shop I start walking on the streets of Bologna, ma che meraviglia… Of course, the first thing that strike me it was the porticoes. I did not know at that time that Bologna is called the city of porticoes nor what was the use for it, but I was going to find out. When one is thinking about Italy immediately a sunny image is associated with, Bologna, on the other hand, has lots of rainy or foggy days, it is a sort of Italian London, so for people to be able to walk around undisturbed by the weather the porticoes were added giving to this city its unique feature nominated as UNESCO`s “world heritage“ .
There are so many things to say about the porticoes, but the one I found more interesting were those part of the portico of San Luca, which starts from Zaragoza Gate going up on the hill to the Sanctuary of Holly Virgin of San Luca. Built as a pilgrimage route it is 3,796 m long, it has 15 stations or resting-places. I walked this path wanting to understand and see things through the eyes of a pilgrim. I was walking being at first surrounded by fog in a misty morning, after a while the porticoes were little by little bathed in the morning sunlight and any thought or worry that might have lingered in my heart till was faded away by that light.
By the time I reached for Santuario di San Luca, I had the sun not only around me but also in my heart. Being up on the hill I looked around, and that was the moment when the desire of wanting to travel, see and learn more about this world entered my mind and never left. I was bitten by the travelling bug and since then I am carrying this wound in my heart.
But the Santuario di San Luca is not the only amazing thing in Bologna. Another highlight of this city is the towers. Built by rich families in the Middle Ages, most of them collapsed or were demolished only a few are still standing and those which are standing do make a clear statement about the Bolognesi personality treats, they really like to show off and-and definitely those towers were the best way to saying“Mine is bigger than yours“ .
If to discover the towers of Bologna is not that hard, one can’t miss them, are standing straight in the middle of the road, there are other hidden secrets of this city which one might not notice, nor ever found out about them because one might not find too many information about it in the first place. One such secret is the complex Sette Chiese or San Stefano Church placed in San Stefano Square. The origins of that place date back when it use to be just a temple of Isis transformed into a church built to contain a replica of the Holy Sepulchre which is in the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The complex is made of seven churches, the abundance of mix pagan and Christian symbols make you think that there is much to this place than meets the eye and there are some stories which are written on those walls, symbols, and in all the architectural details. I found that place intriguing and mysterious the way I can’t say about any other place I have seen since then.
Leaving behind the mysterious shadow of this city I will talk about a place I entered by accident, Archiginnasio Library. Entering that place was like entering a realm which seemed easy to reach yet not so easy because one might pass that street without noticing it. The first it caught my eyes the interior courtyard surrounded by richly painted porticoes, actually all the rooms and corridors are having the ceilings painted, sculptures and coats of arms are decorating the walls. I was mesmerized walking in Archiginnasio Library I think I was the only one which was not paying any attention to any of the books there, but I was looking up to the ceiling or admiring all the architectural details, I was in heaven!
I was my first travel. No map, no information, a just pure pleasure of discovering by myself a mysterious and fascinating city. I had my instinct as a guide and my feet were taken to all the right places. I haven’t missed anything and there is not a place in Bologna I regret not seeing it.
The more I walked those streets the more my hunger grew, I had an insatiable need to see and understand more, probably this is the reason why I returned. This city which at first glance might seem sober and kind of still marked the beginning of what was going to be The Lonely Traveler. My visit to Bologna the foggy city of Italy was foretelling my next travel destination…London..
It was my first dive into this world, and I loved it, also I realized that one dive is not enough. I felt like till then I spent my life walking around with my eyes wide shut and it was time to open them. That trip was my revelation, it was my beginning…