Food on the Move: A Bologna Street Food Festival

Parco della Montagnola, Charlie’s go-to dog park, is the home of Sapori in Movimento, the Bologna Street Food Festival taking place this weekend. This three-day feast has a fun mix of foods on offer from vegetarian to full-on carnivore. There are also events for the kids during the day and the park itself is just a great place to hang out and chat with friends.

bologna street food festival sapori in movimento

Friday, when the festival started, was unbelievably hot and I feel for everyone who had to be there, especially cooking! Saturday was considerably cooler, though we still waited to stop by in the evening. We’d already eaten, but we took a wander around the park, enjoyed a beer at Clandestino, the new seasonal beer garden, and then chatted with some dog-park acquaintances (their dog is our dog Charlie’s BFF). They also happen to be involved in the organization of the event and the promotion and betterment of the park in general. It was a nice evening out and despite having eaten, the smells permeating the park had me drooling. Charlie showed incredible restraint! He’s such a good boy.

Some of the food available to tempt an array of palates includes crepes, buffalo sausages, and zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and truffle. The line for Porcobrado, which serves up a special type of pig from Tuscany with its own DOP (protected designation of origin) status, was one of the longest lines we saw, though everyone seemed to be doing brisk business. Every sign I saw sounded tempting and, as I said, the aromas filling the park were mouth watering.

porcobrado bologn street food festival

If you’re in town, you can still make it in time to enjoy the new Bologna street food festival. It runs until just before midnight tonight and is worth a visit. Go for an aperitivo, go for dinner, go for dessert, go for drinks. Go just to see the car converted into a grill. Just go!

bologna street food festival sapori in movimento bologna street food festival sapori in movimento

bologna street food festival sapori in movimento

Clandestino, the new beer garden that also serves food (and more than just beer). It remains through the summer.

bologna street food festival sapori in movimento clandestino beer garden

Our Dutch dog wanted a biertje of his own. Sorry, Charlie!

bologna street food festival sapori in movimento clandestino beer garden dog

bologna street food festival sapori in movimento

 

 

Four Fun Facts About the Rialto Bridge

Venice is a city of canals. And when you’ve got canals, you’ve got bridges. The most famous Venetian bridge, of course, is the Rialto Bridge, which has a long, storied history. It’s also just stunningly gorgeous.

Rialto Bridge Venice

As I mentioned in my previous Venice post, we visited the floating city in the first week of January 2002, which resulted in thinner crowds and better views. That doesn’t mean the bridge wasn’t bustling with tourists, but it was easier to walk along and take in the different shops that lined the bridge. I was lured into a stationery shop where I bought a beautiful letter opener. From a friend’s relatively recent visit, it seems that that shop may still be there.

rialto bridge shopping

While looking up some of the bridge’s history, I came across various facts and trivia bits that I thought were pretty interesting and thought I’d share them. So here goes, four fun facts about the Rialto Bridge in Venice.

Age and Beauty

The Rialto is the oldest of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal. The earliest form of bridge in that spot was built in 1181, although it was only a floating pontoon bridge.

Ups and Downs

By 1255, as the Rialto Market grew in importance, a more permanent wooden bridge was built. Unfortunately, over the centuries, it had its ups and downs, having to be rebuilt from time to time. It was partially burned during a revolt in 1310. It also collapsed a couple of times. In 1444, a wedding was being held for the Marquis Ferrara. As the wedding crowd took to the bridge to watch a passing boat parade, the bridge collapsed. It was rebuilt, but collapsed once again in 1524.

Marble and Michelangelo

Building the bridge in stone had been discussed as early as 1503, but it took most of the century to finally decide on a plan. Even some great artists and architects like Palladio and Michelangelo submitted ideas, but the final winner was Antonio da Ponte, who finally finished construction in 1591 after working on it for three years. The marble bridge follows the original wooden design fairly closely, with two inclined ramps leading up to a central portico. It’s single span arch and marble material had people placing bets on it collapsing, but it’s still standing!

Family Connections

Probably the second most famous bridge in Venice is the Bridge of Sighs, which  connected the prison to the interrogation room in the Doge’s palace. The designer of the Bridge of Sighs was Antonio Contino, who was the nephew of Antonio da Ponte, the designer of the Rialto Bridge.

Bonus Silliness

The Rialto was built across the narrowest stretch of the Grand Canal. It ended up connecting the districts of San Marco and San Polo. Marco and Polo. Marco Polo. Venetian explorer and the name of a popular water tag game. No one knows the origins of the name of the water tag game. Me? I like to imagine people in the two districts standing at each end of the bridge, shouting out their district’s name in a show of civic pride. Which district is better? Marco! Polo! Perhaps add in a bit of drunken rowdiness and someone ends up falling into the canal, still shouting their district’s name.

Rialto Bridge Venice

Rialto Bridge Venice Venezia single arch bridge

I particularly like the couple in the photo above seated on the steps down by the canal.

romantic couple rialto bridge venice

And one last view from the back of the shops on the bridge …

behind rialto bridge venice venezia shopping

 

The Gondolas of Venice

On a hot summer day, what better way to cool off than to revisit some old photos of the Venice gondolas one bright winter morning.

Well, I can think of plenty of more effective ways of cooling off, but they don’t make for interesting blog posts about Italy.

So yes, it’s been pretty warm recently, and despite my Florida heritage, this flamingo does not like the heat. The animals and I are slowly melting. Even my cats who love the heat are looking a bit more limp and lethargic. We do have a portable air conditioner, which helps a little, but on days like today when it’s 35C/95F, there’s only so much it can do.

venice venezia harbor st marks gondolas

Since this blog is about Italy, not just Bologna, and because I haven’t been out much to explore due to the heat and work, I thought I’d go through some of my old photos taken during my one day-trip to Venice one January many years ago. We happened to be there on an actual holiday, so we lucked out even more with the smaller crowds. On the downside, being a holiday, the restaurant we wanted to go to wasn’t open. Still, Venice in the off season is absolutely worth a visit and it’s a relatively short train ride from Bologna.

I joke that it’s nearly impossible to take bad photos in Venice and going through my many many photos taken that day, I’m really surprised by how many turned out well, even with my old point-and-shoot film camera I was using. I must have gone through quite a few rolls of film, though! But how can you not with such beautiful scenery everywhere you look.

The architecture of Venice was a huge draw for me, but I also found myself photographing the boats moored up or floating by. And of course I couldn’t resist taking photos of the famous gondolas of Venice! We didn’t ride one — it seemed extra touristy and probably pretty cold that close to the water in early January — but I loved getting some of the photos that day. There’s one with a rainbow reflection off the water that is one of my favorites.

So here are a handful of gondola photos from my visit to Venice. Have you been? Did you take a gondola ride? Is it hell on earth during the summer season with all of the tourists?

venetian gondolas venice

venice gondolas venezia rainbow reflection

venice gondola venezia

venice gondola canal boats

venice gondolas venezia

And a few gondoliers hanging out …

venice gondoliers gondolas venezia

 

One of those days …

When you’re just having one of those days …

bologna urban street art vino wine

bologna urban street art vino wine prosecco

Celebrating the Festa della Repubblica

Today is a national holiday in Italy. It’s the Festa della Repubblica, the day in which Italians celebrate becoming a republic. On this day in 1946, Italians went to the polls to vote whether to remain a monarchy or become a republic. They chose republic, which isn’t that much of a surprise considering the behavior of the last king of Italy, from the Savoy family, who appointed Mussolini and then ran away during WWII. That said, the numbers were fairly close. Still, over the years, I’ve heard many an Italian speak negatively of monarchies, particularly the Savoy family that last reigned over Italy.

So, a republic it is! This is one of the few days when you’re likely to see Italian flags hung about and there are parades and special presentations and events to celebrate, at least in Rome. I’m not really sure what’s going on in Bologna today. It’s too hot and I’m too busy working — not a holiday for me; mine was Monday — so I’m afraid you get the abbreviated story today. You also get a random photo that happens to include the Italian flag and the flag of Bologna.

Festa della Repubblica

Wordless Wednesday: Let’s Take the Stairs

parco della montagnola pincio bologna stairs

Farm Animal Italian Lessons

Years ago, when I was first taking Italian lessons, I would rent Italian films for practice. One of my favorites was Johnny Stecchino, starring Roberto Benigni. It was fun and silly — though not without some social commentary — although with the speed and accents, it wasn’t always the easiest to follow. Still, that’s what the subtitles were for!

In one of the scenes toward the end, he’s seen leading a group of mafia thugs on a song about the sounds animals make.

There’s a street just off the Piazza Maggiore in the Quadrilatero that has some wonderful animal paintings on the protective grills when the shops are closed. That inspired me to add updating the animals sounds to my current Italian lessons. After all, animals in different countries speak different languages, too! Charlie, my Dutch dog, may not know “drop it” in English, but he does seem to know the equivalent in Dutch. (He wasn’t happy when I finally found the right Dutch term recently.)

So, I present to you the Italian names and sounds of a few animals.

Horses are i cavalli and when they neigh, they say “hiiiiii”
Italian lessons animal sounds

The cow — la mucca — goes “muuuuuu”
Italian lessons animal sounds cow painting

The rooster — il gallo — says “chicchirichí [keekeereekee]”
Italian lessons animal sounds street art

Pop Quiz! What sounds do these animals make?
Italian lessons animal sounds street art

If you’re thinking that I didn’t tell you what sound the bull (il toro) makes, well, it turns out they make the same sounds as cows. #muuuuuuuu

I hope you enjoyed this illustrated Italian lesson. If you want to learn more, you can find more sounds here. So from me, it’s “ciao” and from Charlie, it’s “bau bau”!

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Sunset Glow over Piazza Maggiore

If you come to Bologna, you’re going to end up spending time in and around Piazza Maggiore. As the name implies, it is a major square in the heart of Bologna. Day or night, it’s a fun and attractive place to be. There’s always plenty of people and dog watching to enjoy, and there are even cafés with tables set outside to enjoy the good weather. Charlie and I lingered over a coffee there one Sunday morning, sitting back and enjoying the variety of people passing by, from far-off tourists to local umarells (I’m sure they have opinions on the Neptune being restored).

While we were there one evening as dusk was approaching, I couldn’t help but be transfixed by the glow ignited by the setting sun on parts of the surrounding buildings. At first, there’s the glow on the dome of the Santa Maria della Vita rising up over the Palazzo dei Banchi and the Pavaglione portico that runs along the front.

To the right is the Basilica di San Petronio, a beautiful church with an interesting and entertaining history. The sun hitting the top portion that runs along the nave, turning it a vivid orange, was particularly spectacular in person.

Even on the left, the Palazzo del Podestà catches some of the light on its tower, but adds its own small light show in the evenings. Behind me, as I took all of these pictures was the Palazzo d’Accursio, which I’ve written about previously.

Museums, tourism offices, open markets, nice shops, great views, and even a whispering groin vault are some of the many sights to take in among these buildings … and so much more. Visitor or local alike, it’s hard not to be taken in by all that Piazza Maggiore offers.

Santa Maria della Vita Dome
piazza maggiore palazzo dei banchi

Basilica di San Petronio
piazza maggiore bologna

Piazza Maggiore
piazza maggiore bologna

Where the malcontent and the hyperpolyglot meet

italian language via malcontenti bologna

I recently watched a whole night of Italian language TV and felt pretty good that I’d followed more than enough of it to know what was going on. While I might not have understood word for word, I wasn’t struggling and really having to listen intently to it all.

My Dutch never got to that level, though I can read Dutch better than I can understand it being spoken. And I can’t speak either language all that easily at the moment. I get tongue tied and stumble and come out with endings and conjugations that I know are wrong as soon as they come out of my mouth. I also find myself speaking a hybrid of Dutch and Italian sometimes, especially when chatting to my dog, Charlie. He’s Dutch, after all, and knows his commands in Dutch, so I’m obliged to still speak some Dutch.

All of this is my way of saying that while I’m making some headway again with the Italian language, I will never be a strong polyglot. I definitely won’t be a hyperpolyglot like Giuseppe Mezzofanti.

A Way With Words

Mezzofanti (1774 – 1849) was born here in Bologna to a family of humble origins. He became a cardinal, but was perhaps best known for being a hyperpolyglot, in that he was said to have spoken around 38 languages fluently and had a basic knowledge of dozens more.

In 1797, he became a professor of Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, and Asian languages at the University of Bologna, and in 1803 he was appointed assistant librarian of the Institute of Bologna. Not bad for a carpenter’s son.

Misfits and Malcontents

It does seem that there is some disagreement nowadays that Mezzofanti would have truly been fluent in so many languages. There is talk that the requirements were primarily in reading and writing, and that his ability and need to speak was typically limited to basic chit chat. No matter what the actual story may be, he seems to have been truly gifted when it came to languages. I remember only a little from the five and a half years of French I studied at school — though it has helped me some with Italian — and my attempts at learning Russian were a complete disaster. Even if Mezzofanti could only hold the most basic of conversations in 38 languages, I’m still impressed!

So how did I learn about this linguistic dynamo? I was wandering around town and found myself on Via Malcontenti. I’m easily amused and I couldn’t help but wonder about the malcontents that gave the street its name. In pausing to photograph the street name I happened to spot a memorial plaque, though I couldn’t really read it clearly at the time. Thank goodness for zoom lenses!

italian language via malcontenti bologna

With a bit of zooming and Googling, I learned about Giuseppe Mezzofanti and the fact that he was born and raised there on Via Malcontenti. There’s more to his story, including becoming the Custodian-in-Chief at the Vatican Library. You should check out this site if you’d like to learn more.

It’s amazing the bits of history you can stumble across, just by taking a few extra photos while wandering around a city. Even if you don’t understand the Italian language — or the language of whatever country you’re in — take a few extra zoom shots of these kinds of markers and then go back and get what you can from Google and Google Translate (or your search/translator of preference). Sometimes they’re older plaques like this and sometimes they’re modern ones with more information. Either way, it’s a fun way to expand your knowledge. I’m sure Mezzofanti would approve of that.

italian language via malcontenti bologna

italian language via malcontenti bologna

But is it art?

A question for the ages. What is art? Sure, there are fairly obvious answers — Michelangelo’s David, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, Masaccio’s Tribute Money, etc. Yet when it comes to modern art, things are a little less set in stone … or oil paints, or plaster, for that matter. Graffiti is one of those areas that divides people, and even for those like myself who do think of it as art, there are often debates as to what counts and what doesn’t. I like street art, but I don’t like random squiggles that are little more than a spray-painted signature. Or maybe I just don’t like the randomness of much of it. See? Even I can’t make up my mind completely as to what is art.

As I’ve said before, Bologna is full of what I consider street art and what I also consider to be just ugly squirts of paint. Some is purely words, but poetry is art, and if those words make you think, then should they not also be considered art? So, here are a few more bits and bobs I’ve spotted around town. You can make up your own mind whether they’re art.

bologna street art is it art what is art

bologna street art is it art what is art

bologna street art is it art what is art

bologna street art is it art what is art

In this case, which is “better” art? The photo with the man or without the man? I like both, so you get both. More chances to think about whether the revolution will happen.

bologna street art is it art what is art

bologna street art is it art what is art

 

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