A Papal Visit to Bologna

Other than the seemingly nightly mentions on the TG1 evening news, it’s relatively easy to forget about the Catholic Church here in Bologna. That’s not to say that there aren’t churches everywhere and various church bells ringing throughout the day, and the city certainly has the impressive Basilica di San Petronio. Yet unless you actually practice the religion — and G and I are both non-believers — it’s easy enough to forget about the Church.

That is until this week. Today, specifically. You see, the Pope came to Bologna today. It’s been in the plans for ages so that the die-hards could get their tickets and passes for his appearances at Piazza Maggiore and at the stadium. There have been posters up over the past week and this weekend they started clearing out cars and bicycles from some of the streets closer to Piazza Maggiore and shutting down traffic on streets further out, in part to allow for the motorcade through part of the city.

This morning, despite a bit of drizzle, I thought I’d take Charlie out for a nice long walk. To be honest, I kind of liked the break from the unrelentingly bright sun. It was also early enough that fewer people were around. We took a turn we hadn’t taken before and ended up in some new-to-us areas, which included a nice little park area, as well as a walk along the impressive side of the Oratory of St. Cecilia. As we continued walking — in between stops for people to take Charlie’s photo or comment on how bello he is — we eventually managed to find ourselves on Via Zamboni, heading straight to the two towers.

due torre bologna papal visit

That’s when I remembered the Bologna papal visit. The big giveaway was the crowds standing in the street beneath the towers. There are areas to stand and admire the views, but the street usually stays clear.

Out of curiosity, I thought I’d see how far we could get before we had to turn back, whether for lack of a pass or sheer density of the crowd. With a bit of weaving at times — and more stops for people to gush over Charlie — we actually made it all the way to Via Indipendenza. Along the way, we saw the usual crowds, as well as groups of nuns and even a monk/friar. [As a side note, we lived near a neighborhood of Utrecht called Wittevrouwen, literally meaning white women, but actually referring to the group of nuns who wear white that used to have a nunnery in the area. As I passed a group of them today, I may have found myself quietly exclaiming, “wittevrouwen!” when I saw them.]

bologna papal visit torre asinelli

bologna papal visit via rizzoli

bologna papal visit via rizzoli

bologna papal visit wittevrouwen white nuns

bologna papal visit via indipendenza banner
A banner for the visit hangs over the crowd at the intersection of Via Rizzoli and Via Indipendenza. It reads “Bologna Welcomes You/Pope Francis welcome among us.”

We made it all the way to Via Indipendenza, which would have been an easy enough way for us to head home. Or, at least a way I knew how to get home. I still get turned around sometimes. I was actually surprised at how few people were on the one side of the street until I got to the cathedral that is also on that side of the street. That’s when I realized that I could go no further and was penned in, essentially. No traffic, foot or vehicle, was allowed past those barriers. Whooops!

Not really wanting to stay, particularly as I think there were still at least 45 minutes before anything would happen, Charlie and I turned around and headed back the way we came. Eventually we found a side street that wasn’t blocked and it happened to be one I was familiar with, so we didn’t even get lost and we finally made it back home, two hours after setting out.

So no, I didn’t see the pope. This is just a long-winded excuse to post some crowd photos. From what I read later, the Popemobile was setting a pretty fast pace today, so you had to be quick to get a view anyway.

If you want to see a bit more of the crowds and the general view walking down Via Rizzoli — and some scenes of Charlie in action — check out the blog’s Facebook page where I’ll post a video I took while walking down the street. Nuns, monks, Charlie and his admirers are all included in the video.

Italian Architectural Styles and a Moment of Zen

Charlie and I went on a fairly short walk this morning, as we’d gotten up late and I had work still to finish. But even on a short walk, you can easily be amazed by all of the architectural styles and colors to be seen in Bologna. Even at one intersection, you can find art deco on one side and medieval/Moorish on the other. Walk a little further down the street and you’ll find a church that almost looks Mission style, but with a bell tower that reminds me of Venice. Add in a few balconies and all of the beautiful colors that Bologna architectural styles are known for using and you can’t help but end up with a smile on your face.

classic italian architectural styles bologna

italian architectural styles bologna deco medieval italian architectural styles bologna art deco

italian architectural styles bologna art deco

italian architectural styles bologna mission

italian architectural styles bologna mission venetian

 

And now your Charlie moment of Zen …

Charlie moment of zen dog wall art

At Bologna Bus Station. Next Stop Marrakech.

It’s pretty impressive the places you can get to from the Bologna bus station. When we moved here, we drove from Utrecht to Bologna, splitting the ride into two days, particularly as we were traveling with two cats and a dog that gets carsick. The second day felt particularly long thanks to some less-than-ideal driving conditions in Switzerland and a stationary traffic jam due to an accident outside Milan. But it could have been worse. It could have been a bus ride from Bologna to Marrakech. According to Google, in a regular car, that’s a 29 hour drive covering almost 3000 km or around 1800 miles.

bologna bus station marrakech

It might not sound enjoyable, but it is a travel option. We walk through the Bologna bus station occasionally since it’s behind the park where we take Charlie and an easy way to get to Dynamo, where The Garage urban market is held. It’s always interesting to see some of the destinations available. Some are obvious enough, such as Rome, but others are much more far flung and I can’t help but feel for the people having to endure some of the rides that obviously take days. In a bus. Although there’s probably a bit more room than in most of today’s economy-class planes.

Yet for all the tedium involved, there’s still something of a thrill at the thought of hopping on a bus for some far-off land. Would you go?

Bologna bus station

Save

Domenica Details: Porticoes of Bologna

via irnerio porticoes of bologna portici italian architecture

Think of Domenica Details as an occasional Sunday blog category where I take a quick look at a particular detail of something. In this case, I wanted to point out something about the porticoes of Bologna that I mentioned in my last post. As I said, they are a major feature of Bologna and they come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. From one building to the next, you can see major or minor changes. For example, in this case, you can see the change in style of the columns, from the ornate Corinthian column in the front, to the multi-colored square columns further on. The shapes of the arches change, as well, from high, round arches to more squared-off arches.

And yes, you’ll see all kinds of floors, as well, including some highly decorative ones, but I’ll save those for another day.

 

Save

%d bloggers like this: