So all last week Bologna was unfortunately plagued by the rain - and not the good sort, like the type that's hammering away outside whilst you're inside with a cuppa and a book. No, last week it was mostly drizzle, the kind that seems harmless but if you've forgotten your umbrella you will eventually get soaked through.
However, Saturday arrived accompanied by a brilliant blue sky, bright sunshine (actually bright enough for sunglasses!) and a little breeze - perfect weather when you're spending the day showing someone round the city.
You may remember that I've been out to the city of Milan a couple of times since I first came to Italy back at the end of July (WOW that feels like a long long loooong time ago now..) to visit my friend Julie, who I'd met a few years ago on an exchange trip to Germany and haven't actually seen since whilst living in the UK, but funnily enough we've seen each other 3 times in the past 6 months we've been living over here! This Saturday she arrived from Milan to spend the day with me here before making the short journey down to Florence on Sunday. So far whenever I've had anyone to visit, as you've read, they've had a couple of days to spend here and so I've always made the tour of the city last a while, dragging it out a bit. As Julie only had one day I was determined to pack in as much as we could!
When she arrived in the morning I met her at the train station and we headed down to the Piazza Maggiore for a coffee in the sunshine. Weekends in Bologna are good because the main city center is all pedestrianised, and since it does get quite busy this makes it easier to get around. After our coffee we mooched through the center and I pointed out all of my favourite little bits. By 12 we were getting hungry, and winded up eating at a little place I'd not heard of before that we stumbled across whilst looking for another place that had been recommended to me. But we ate some fantastic pasta at Il Cantinone (can't find a translation of this word, but cantina means wine bar and there sure was a lot of wine there so I guess that works) - Julie had the Ragu alla Bolognese that the region is famed for, and I chose Gramigna alla Salsiccia, which is pasta in a sausage sauce and it was looovely.
|Cute place, right?|
After stuffing ourselves with said pasta, we had time for a little wander before we were going to conquer a feat I'd not yet managed to do here.
We were going to climb the Asinelli Tower.
Yep, that thing.
498 steps to the top, which sits at 97.2m (sauce). And it's only €3 - bargain!
But you can see why I hadn't done it yet.
Having said that, we found the climb actually pretty easy! I'm not sure how long it took, maybe 10 or 15 minutes (bad judger of time here ok, but the view from the top was remarkable.
I've already promised another friend who's coming to visit that we'll climb it and I'll be happy to do it again - to be honest, I didn't really want to come back down again!
It was the coming down again that was actually quite difficult in places. Many of the steps are very narrow and some of the staircases quite steep, so it's not as easy as the climb back up! But we made it, and rewarded ourselves with a gelato (of course).
Later we headed back to my apartment for a cup of tea (still English at heart) and to figure out where we'd eat that night. There's a burger place in the city center that I've been to before, and after having a trawl through their website Julie agreed that it was the place to go. They do really good food there (including fontina sticks which are like mozzarella sticks but better) and we managed to arrive just before the dinner rush so we were served pretty quickly, which is always good!
After our burgers we went for a drink at a favourite wine bar of mine a short(ish) walk away. I had Julie try the regional wine Lambrusco, a fizzy red that's quite sweet, and which everyone loves. We passed the next few hours with more of the stuff and chatting in the bar, and went to catch the bus from the stop just down the road at about 12ish - not tooo late, especially since Julie's train to Florence meant we'd be up at about half 8 the next morning!
And then it was Sunday and time to go to the station, where I waved her off. She's moving to Vienna very soon and once I'm in Germany I'm hoping to get over there to see her and other friends so it wasn't too long a goodbye. A fleeting visit here but a good one no less.
It dawned on me yesterday that in exactly a month I would be leaving Bologna for good, and that on Saturday it had been exactly four months since I had step foot in the city. Two thoughts that seem quite amazing - as everyone said it would, my year abroad is going by pretty quickly. By the time I leave next month, I will have done a handful more exams, been to BARCELONA (more on that another time), been to Venice and Verona, and have been visited by two good friends of mine. So no doubt this last month is going to fly by like the rest of it!!
Ciao for now!