2006 Day 2. Bologna Sight Seeing

I woke before light and decided to get a bit of exercise. No fitness center at this quaint boutique, so I was forced to hit the bricks rather than spin my wheels flanked by sweaty road warriors, watching the world whiz by on CNN. The excitement of the dawn-quite streets of a foreign country and the sixties soul music delivered by my MP3 player proved to be an irresistible stimulant. After just fifteen minutes, I was gassed. Without realizing it I was practically sprinting rather than jogging. I managed to moderate my pace the rest of the run as I explored the streets parallel to the main drag of the area.

As I gallivanted about I passed one place after another to eat, they were everywhere. I began to ponder how it is with all this temptation about, that residents here do not grow as wide as we have in the US. Any given block may have a Bar, which is a small place to buy a sandwich, espresso, gelato, wine or pastry, but often no seating. Then there are almost as many Caffes, which seem about the same as Bars, but are more likely to have seating and a better choice of items. Next on the scale are Pizzerias. They have all the offerings of a Bar or Caffé, but add more space and simple, hot prepared food. Finally comes the full service Ristorante. There I was just trying to burn a few calories and all I could think about was this abundance of food.

So back to the Hotel I ran to wake Lorraine and have a nice breakfast of fresh pastries, fresh fruit, cereal, juice and espresso. Our charming hosts at the Borgo provided all. We then returned to our room to plot our tourist venture into the city. As I was looking over the map, an unmistakable sound came from outside our window. Down in the parking area I could hear them, Italian motorcycles! Perhaps not the same type of thrill as hearing classic Velocettes pull into the parking lot at Alice’s, but I was gnashing at the bit nevertheless.

I flung open the shutters to see a pair of Ducati ST4s parked on the cobblestones below. Hoping these were a preview of what I was to pick up in Rimini on Monday, I called out to the riders “Are they rentals?”, “Yes, we just picked them up from the factory” they replied. I was delighted. Shiny, clean and complete with hard case saddlebags. It was not long before more riders began to filter back to the hotel with their machines from the Ducati rental fleet and the rear parking area soon looked like a Ducati show room.

Not yet in possession of our own two-wheeled conveyance, Lorraine and I boarded a bus for the short trip into town. Our destination was Bologna tourist central, the Piazza Maggiore. Upon exit from the bus we were surrounded by the narrow, ancient streets and before us were the two towers of Bologna, the Asinelli and the Garisenda. These medieval skyscrapers are nine hundred years old with the Asinelli being about three hundred feet tall and the Garisenda half that. We began to walk and soon found ourselves in an amazing food market that was a treat for the senses. Fresh produce, fish and regional specialties made a magnificent display. Bologna’s Italian nickname translates to The Fat City, which is a reference to her gastronomic excellence. We were seeing it first hand in this wonderful market place.

The city is a labyrinth of portico lined streets and we just could not stop walking and exploring. We came upon an impressive antique flea market, spread out over cobblestone pavement, with dozens of tables bearing vintage jewelry, ceramics, silverware, dishes etc. I though of my sister Ginna, who adores this type of antique treasure hunt. She would surely have broken down in tears of joy, like a bride on her wedding day, at the sight of this magnificent collection of offerings.
We continued exploring the streets; mile after mile until our dogs were barking and our shins ached. We may have covered as many as eight miles just strolling about and it was now time to catch the bus back to our oasis, where we would wind the day down to night and the evening meal. It had been such an engaging bit of sight seeing that for a moment I almost forgot this was motorcycle trip.