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last day in Italy – in love with Bologna

Thunderstorms predicted and instead, so far, at 5 p.m., a beautiful sunny day, the best of my time here so far. No trains today, just a leisurely stroll around town under the porticos; Bologna has 25 miles of arcaded streets – and, incidentally, many bike paths on the roads, well used. We saw – of course – churches and then the museum. Four churches, which made Bruce happy as he showed me the beauties therein, several enormous and baroque, others smaller, simpler, lovelier, one dedicated to Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, one with Roman remains and a cloister. Love cloisters. The streets packed, students shouting, eating, smoking, sitting on the medieval steps in the sun – do they even see the history and beauty that surrounds them as they go about their noisy teenaged lives?

Facts: Italians love cellphones, perhaps more than any other country I’ve seen so far, constant constant talking; they love dogs, particularly, for some reason, golden retrievers. Well, they are golden and decorative. Italians also love movies, pastries, coffee, scarves, shoes, perfume, motorcycles, Jesus and Mary. Fashion report: the women love pants made of a rubber-like pseudo-leather, shredded jeans with gigantic rips and holes cut in them – for men too – , over-the-knee boots, extravagant fringe. This morning, we followed a woman who on top was wearing a chic little jacket with scarf, and on the bottom was in skintight leggings, as if she was wearing nothing at all, and high-heels. Always with flare, if sometimes a bit silly.

We went to the Pinacoteca for one last look at Renaissance marvels – a Tintoretto, a Giotto, a gorgeous Raphael, a room of Guido Reni … After a while, as always, I start to go cross-eyed with all the vast sweeping canvases of virgins, saints, crucifixions, angels.

So – LUNCH. At the Trattoria Gianni, recommended by our landlady – and since we were surrounded there either by Italians or French, we felt it was a good choice. At last, we had tagiatelle bolognese, divine, I with a glass of sangiovese, and a dessert of melted chocolate over almond gelato – more divine. It was my treat for Bruce, to thank him for his guiding on our marvellous journey. A long chat with the Parisian couple eating tagiatelle bolognese next to us – how they love Italy and come often, are disappointed with the food in Rome, Florence and Venice; the food in Bologna is best.

Good to know.

Another grimace – will someone teach this woman to smile?

BK went home for a rest and I went to the museum of modern art to see one of my great favourites: Giorgio Morandi. Talk about a change from the Renaissance and the Baroque, the work of this extremely simple man, almost a hermit, who lived all his life in Bologna or the countryside nearby with his mother and three sisters, hardly travelled, painted what he saw, mostly the dusty vases and bottles in his atelier bedroom, and yet is considered the greatest Italian painter of the 20th century. I fell in love with Morandi years ago after seeing an exhibition at the Met in NYC. How can all those repeated shapes and forms mean so much? And yet they do. You feel his concentration go deeper and deeper into what it means to be alive and to see, to feel, to experience. His heroes were Piero della Francesca, Giotto – and Cezanne.

And then I strolled in the afternoon sun, peering into boutiques and buying nothing. I have bought nothing in Italy. Miracolo! Except in a farmacia where I bought more bandages for my back. There was a weight machine so I used it – have gained 4 or 5 pounds. Basta! Now at home, waiting for the photos to download, will share when it happens. A final dinner with Bruce, and packing, and tomorrow at dawn – Parigi. Paris, here I come.

Bruce wants me to report that when we were in Turin, he asked me if I wanted to see the Turd of Shroudin. A great laugh.

Church bells ringing.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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