Sunday, 17 February 2013

Bologna - The metabolically challenged (Pt. 1)

I like to think of Italy as and old man, face etched with wrinkles, silver grey hair hidden underneath a brown fedora. Eyes hidden behind penny-round glasses, wearing a green coat, grey trousers and a flannel shirt - the look of a poet and an artist. All this makes me want to hug Italy. In my opinion, as far as the arts are concerned, it cannot get better than Italy.

So naturally I try to visit Italy as often as I can. A couple of weeks ago I booked a low-cost flight from Malta to Bologna. Since I barely had time to even BREATHE during these past exams, I found absolutely no time to plan it out properly. So on the eve of our flight, me and my friend Michela still had no clue of what we're doing or of any places we were visiting - so we decided to improvise.

If there's one thing that characterizes ALL of my holidays is my ability to get lost...everywhere. This has led me to one of the highlights of this holiday:

1. Discovering sinistra means left and destra means right

No seriously. I've lived all my life thinking the opposite, even though I consider myself a fluent speaker of Italian.

2. The University and the night life 
Our hotel was right amidst the bustling university life of Bologna - students drinking beer and coffee in coffee-shops situated on campus, sitting in the piazze,  and students graduating and wearing the strangest of hats to do so. The area around the University is full of life - all the time. What I liked particularly about it was the way coffee-shops became bars in the evening. One thing I regret not doing was trying the aperitivo, that is the Italian version of happy hour. Basically instead of discounted drinks, Italian bars raise the prices of their beverages between 6pm and 9pm, but instead give you the opportunity to sample a number of appetizers ranging from tiny pizzas to meat on skewers. I swear the inventor of this concept is my spirit animal - for choosing food over alcohol.

The university district by day 

3. Shopping, or rather the lack of it
Living in Malta means being very limited to the range of shops from which to shop locally. If there's one thing I ALWAYS do when I'm abroad is shopping. If there's one thing I didn't do in Bologna was shopping. Even though there's plenty where to shop in Bologna, mainly Via dell'Indipendenza, I finally came to the conclusion that I might, just might, have enough clothes for now. However I did shop for other things mainly for books and decor items.

4. Books 
If there's a heaven I'm sure it looks something like this. This is La Feltrinelli - a bookshop found throughout Italy selling all sorts of books in all sorts of languages. I remember visiting La Feltrinelli in Firenze and falling in love at first sight - people from all age groups were sitting on the sofas inside the shop reading books they had just bought from the shop. Apart from the vast choice of books, I'll always and forever love the decor of these shops. There are quotes of the sort all around the shop and photos of famous authors which made me want to pretty much give up everything here in Malta and move to Italy just to have everyday access to a la Feltrinelli outlet.

Another thing that made me want to do this was yet another bookshop. I'm starting to doubt myself but I'm pretty sure this a bookshop found in Bologna's Eataly. Once again, the decoration of the shop was lovely - however it was really busy at the time we visited. But what really grabbed my attention was this board below. Basically people visiting the shop are invited to write down the name of their favourite book or a book they'd like to recommend and stick it to the board. Needless to say, I had to put The Great Gatsby.

One other highlight related to books was DEFINITELY purchasing my first Moleskine ever! I bought this from Florence because I believe Florence is the epitome of the arts and I still long to be a lost soul walking around Florence to seek inspiration for my new novel.

5. The Tourist Attractions  

I swear everything in Italy distinguishes itself from the same thing found elsewhere just because it's Italian. Cruising through the streets of Bologna and Florence, I swear I could have cried at any given moment. Everything about Italy screams art and poetry. We visited Piazza Nettuno by day and by night and I still believe it looks ever in artificial light.  There are a number of tourist attractions in Bologna. The number of Porticos spread throughout the city give Bologna a unique feel. And this city does live up to it's nickname - the RED city.
Nettuno's shadow

More Porticos 

Piazza Nettuno

I apologize for taking AGES to write up this post - I've been extremely busy (and somewhat extraordinarily tired). Stay tuned for part 2!


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