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I step out from my hotel and I am slapped in the face by a nippy, cold wind.
I do a double take and look around me.
No I am not in Edinburgh. Ahhhhhh.
I am in Bologna!
Skies are cold and grey. Very dreich indeed as we would say in Scotland.
However there is a difference.
Soaring above me everywhere are towering red ochre terracotta buildings that have stood the test of time and elements for centuries. My cold heart melts and starts warming at the prospect of my impending stay in Red Bologna.
Plus I have plenty of protection from the elements here. Bologna is famous for its long colonnaded walkways. 40 kms in fact so everywhere you go you can go anywhere feeling snug in winter and super chilled in the shade during summer.
I guess anywhere you go on holiday in Italy you feel you’ve just gatecrashed a secret outdoor fashion show. Everyone I see is immaculately dressed from tip to toe. In Bologna its no different: flowing in front of me on Via Farini is a conveyer belt of glamourous people.
Looking to my left I start namechecking all the famous fashion brands , Prada, Miu Miu, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci. Window shopping at its finest.
Even more entertaining is looking at the Bolognese in the shops, trying on clothes in the stores, animated, seeking reassuring glances from friends and preening in front of the mirrors utterly self conscious , proud and beautiful.
I toy with the idea of trying to discover some wallet friendly, budget friendly fashion brands from Italy but somehow all I seem to find is H&M and Zara. Bugger that. Leave it to the fashion bloggers 🙂
All roads in Bologna lead to Piazza Maggiore.
First thing that hits you in the eye when you walk into the Piazza is the huge manly buttocks of Neptune at the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune’s Fountain)
There is a gaggle of excited Japanese tourists, mainly guys flashing Neptune’s arse.
A deft tilt of my head allows me to avert Neptune’s arse and instead my eyes are transfixed by the beautific sight of water spouting out from the breasts of 4 buxom angels beneath the seagod.
I feel better.
The four beauties were not the love pets of Neptune but symbolised the 4 continents that were thought to exist in the pre Oceania world.
The Piazza Maggiore is a very fine square-I think probably Italy’s finest.
The broad majestic sweep is flanked by some impressive buildings: Towering Basilica di San Petronio that is the world’s 5th largest Basilica and a few grand palaces chucked in for extra ambience.
Don’t you just love Piazzas in Italy?!
It feels like coming home to a place you’ve known and loved since you were a kid.
There are the meeting or crossing point for locals -the beating heart, soul of the city.
I warm up myself with a frothy cappuchino ( 3 euros but tasty and good) at the historic Caffe Vittorio Emanuele and watch.
Locals exchange gossip.
Lovers kiss passionately.
I remember the Piazza in the summer.
When it transforms into a grand venue for concerts and open air film screenings. If you love the magic of cinema then make a point to come here in summer when open air film screenings are popular here and across Italy.
I came here many moons ago in the summer – watching Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo , surrounded by hundreds of people of all ages.
Pin drop awe filled silence. Above a sky cluttered with sparkling stars.
Price of my admission was a 2 euro bottle of chilled Peroni Nastro Azzuro beer from a cafe on the square.
It has to be the most magical cinema going experience.
One of the palaces bordering Piazza Maggiore (or Palazzi as referred to in Italy) that you can visit for free is the Palazzi Comunale.
Home to the local city council there’s a real mix of exciting things going on here- you can find a library which is jampacked with students and on the 2nd floor two art galleries there is a fine collecion of 13th-19th century art ( free)
However there’s something quite remarkable and exciting going beneath your feet as you stand on the ground floor.
Peer though the glass floor and you will be able to make out the remarkably intact foundations of the ancient Roman city and its actual streets. Stunning sight.
Walking out…despite the cold wind, I feel fuzzy and warm inside- adrenaline is flowing…all I need to do is fill my stomach. You cannot enjoy beauty on an empty stomach. Luckliy I am in Bologna 😉
In the second part of my diary, I will lift the lid on the city’s gastronomic pleasures with a budget twist- Stay tuned!
Perfect opportunity to thank my wonderful hosts of #DeliciousEnRom: Claudia, Nicholas and Barbara from Emilia Romagna Tourism Board plus the awesome, thoughtful and lovely Juliane Fischer from Wilde PR.
Plus no trip is fun without great company and I was in the awesome company of 4 amazing travel bloggers- Foodie/Adventurous Kate, Christine ‘Lilies’ Neder, Katja ‘Travelette’ Henschel and
Princess Lea ‘TripWolf’ Hajner– thank you all for the memories 😉