Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lordy, where was I?

Let's see.... at last look I was in Switzerland gazing off into the Alps at tea time, feeling a little intimidated by the sheer force of glacial creation. Much water under several bridges since then. What I have below are pictures of Bologna, a very interesting and fairly low key although quite fashion conscious and chic town. I went nuts there and in Florence for clothes, shoes, just the general sense of style everywhere, extreme style, an indoor/ outdoor sport here in Italia. (I'm in Roma at present, Firenze post and pics to follow this one tomorrow as I try to catch up.) A long but pleasant train ride through, and let me emphasize that -- through, as in 'bore through solid rock' and watch your head -- the Alps and into Milan, Italy and that wild train station, and a smooth train ride to Bologna where we stayed the night in a gorgeous hotel, the Hotel Porta San Mamolo, in a quiet SW corner near the old city walls. They treat you to gorgeous Italian bed linens, a very nice breakfast with pitchers of steamed milk, etc., nice linen towels for your face and bidet, and general service that is friendly, has excellent English, way better than my Italian for sure, a fabulous staff that tells you the best places to eat, etc. that never disappoint. BTW we have been very fortunate in this regard with everywhere we've stayed. Helpful staff pointing us to great eateries at all hours of the night. I took a million pics of old door knockers, its a thing of mine... We are on a quest of sorts for frescoes, as Paul is determined to become King of the American Fresco Dancers. Oh, sorry, that's disco. I meant painters, You get the idea. Here are a few pics, explained below. click to enlarge...

hotel courtyard

donna ask donna tell?

lake como where george clooney hangs out

tunnel thru the Alps

alpine peace

We had a delicioso meal at the oldest resto in town, the Osteria de' Poeti, a really lively place in the basement of an old palazzo with an impressively efficient and knowledgeable waitstaff. the waiters here are serious people in their work, they know everything and don't miss a trick. Our waiter was very interesting; what he lacked in personal charm he made up for in efficiency and entertainment value as I spent the entire evening enjoying my meal of shrimp risotto to die for (Paul can't remember what he had) and our waiter rushed around looking like a cross between a blonde Ed Grimly and our late friend David. It was quite funny. The place just bustled with good cheer and good food and the wine! cheap and delicious. I do wish I recalled more about the meal but... I failed to take notes and I'm on vacation dammit so cut me some slack..

Bologna was really cool. Nearly twenty miles of arcaded walkways and charmng get lost in them winding streets and vendors of the best looking foods and wares you can imagine. The flowers and fruitsellers and fishmongers alone! Wish I had a kitchen to take them to.. The highlight of our brief stay was (aside from that meal) the Biblioteca Publico, the second site of the first university in Europe, right near the Piazza Maggiore, a cool city square behind which we had drinks and snacks at Zambini (or something -- more slack here, it's late and this is the best Wifi I've had in days and I'm trying to catch up). We were blown away by the frescoed walls and ceilings and particularly the old dissection medical lecture hall, complete with the original marble dissection slab (16th century i think) in the middle of the beautifully carved and lovingly (post war bombs) restored. There are two life sized carvings of skinless (wouldn't Hannibal love that?) bodies flanking the lectern. I think I'll quit here, leave Firenze (Florence) for the next post. But Italians get more friendly as you move south, although we actually found Bolognese more friendly than the Florentines. They all think they descended from Cosimo de Medici himself!

ciao for now... xo

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