October 16, 2015 – Tour of Santo Stefano’s Portici

I’ve had to remind myself to “look up” a few times lately.  It’s not from a fear that I’m about to run into something (although that happens frequently), instead, it stems from a desire to not get too acclimated with our new (temporary) Italian surroundings.  We’ve been here a month and a half now, and finding our way around really isn’t a problem anymore – we’ve even found a few shortcuts to places.  There is an embedded problem with that though, the more you know a place the less you pay attention to it.  When we first arrived, everything was so new and so different that we were trying to look in every direction at once, now, sometimes I notice that we’re pushing through the crowd with our heads down.  And while sometimes you have to do that to get around, I don’t want us to forget the wonder of living in a city with roots deeply ingrained into history.

On point with that notion, as Brittany and I made our “hike” up to San Luca last weekend, we had an interesting conversation about the idea.  We discussed that when walking around, one of the reasons it’s so easy to just “look down” is because there’s almost too much to “look up” at.  As I mentioned earlier, you can get so caught up in the sheer amount of sights to see that your head literally needs to be on a swivel to catch it all.  And while you are mesmerized by this thing over here, you have just completely missed that thing over there, which would have been even more amazing to look at.  We decided that the best approach was to set out with a goal, even if your goal was not your destination.  For instance, on the discussed day, our destination was Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca, but the goal was to look at all the amazing portici that were along the way (if you’ve seen our journal for that day, you know we weren’t disappointed – if you haven’t, go check it out by clicking here).  Sometimes we mentally or physically make notes to ourselves that we need to come back here and check this out (we snap a ton of pictures on our phones as reminders), but we tried to stay focused on the goal for that day.

The result is this blog post.  As Wikipedia points out, “there are some 38 kilometers (24 miles) of porticoes in the city’s historical center,” and on the path we took, we were almost completely covered from our apartment to all the way to San Luca.  We chose to walk down Via Santo Stefano (which eventually turns into Via Luigi Carlo Farini, which turns into Via Barberia , which turns into Via Sant’ Isaia).  Other than the obvious – there are a ton of portici here and they are magnificent to view – the thing that got our hamsters turning was this…someone had to design all of these…someone had to have built all of these…someone had to weave them all together to form this strange pattern-that-isn’t-quite-a-pattern.  In other words, we were amazed because every section of portici has a story, but none of their stories are readily available.  There are a couple of items we wanted to research – 1) Brittany read that the portici were built mainly so that carriages and what not could have a space to travel but there would still be useful space above, then why the elaborate design of some, and 2) We know that portions of this town used to look like Venice, with canals instead of streets, were the portici built as walkways running parallel;  but between now and whenever we might end up doing that research, I went out today to take pictures of the portici of Via Santo Stefano today.  We hope you think they are as lovely and unique as we do.  (Keep in mind that all of these images come from one street.)

WARNING !! If you don’t have an arch fetish this might not be the post for you. !! WARNING

Some are photogenic…


Some are bright…


Some are dark even in the light…


Some are ornate on the exterior…


Some are ornate on the interior…



Some are modern and industrial…


Some are long…


Some form a wave…


Some are red…


Some are white…


Some are massive…

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Some are thin…



Some house cafés…


Some house faces…


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Some of blocks…


Some of wood…


Some are old and grumpy…

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(but secretly have hidden treasures…)


Some have doors that lead to unknown places…


Some are tall…


Some are wide…


Some are mishmashed…


Some are cold…


Some are warm…


Some reveal their inner workings…

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Some are short, then tall, then taller…


Some are tall, then small, then smaller…


Some are doors to other arches…


Some look like works of art…

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Some even more than others…

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Some are round…


Some are rounder…


Some are brick…


Some are orange…


Okay…so nothing really works with orange, so here’s a statue I found…


Some go arounds corners…


Some stand straight and tall…


But my I do love to look at them all…

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And since I can’t end on such a cheesy note (and because you can’t just go out and see one thing, no matter how hard you try), here’s a really, really cool door’s knob and entryway that apparently leads to Palazzo Zambeccari:



(right side of arch)

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(left side of arch)

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(knob again)


Italian word of the day: arancione – orange (because orange threw off my groove {Soooorrrryyyyy…..} and because I actually found Tropicana Orange Juice yesterday….yummy)

And now you know…


October 11, 2015 – Our “hike” to San Luca

One of the things that Brittany and I had been wanting to do since arriving in Bologna was the hike up to Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca, a church sitting on a hilltop to the southwest of Bologna.  It was one of the first things we saw upon our arrival as it seems to stand watch over the city.  Then on our fabled trip to IKEA, we were able to get a few different views that further wet our appetite.

So a weekend finally arrived that was beautiful and contained no previous engagements.  Today would be the day we would make the hike; only, after doing a bit of research, we realized we wouldn’t actually be hiking anywhere, in the sense of needing hiking gear anyway.  The trip to San Luca is actually completely covered.  As we found out, it is actually the world’s longest portico, with 666 arches (we didn’t miss the irony) connecting Porta Saragozza and San Luca.  We discovered that though this was not a “hike” it was also not just a leisurely stroll.  Inclined for a good portion of the way, a one way version of the trek was almost 2.4 miles, meaning almost 5 miles as a round trip, and we live on the other side of town, so it was actually quite the ‘hike’ for us.

Our journey officially began at Porta Saragozza, which you might remember from our Porta Day.    


Across the street from the porta, we had seen this massive looking portico entrance but had not ventured to it…today was the day.

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It’s very much one thing to read about the world’s longest portico, but another thing all together to actually see it.  It seems important to know the significance of this journey as well.  This path is considered by many to be a pilgrimage.  Apparently there has been a church or chapel setting where San Luca now stands “for about a thousand years” according to Wikipedia.  What started out as a simple chapel on the hill gained significance when the bishop of Bologna decided it would serve as the home for a very important artifact.  It seems that in the 12th century “a pilgrim from the Byzantine empire came to Bologna with an icon of the Virgin from the temple of Saint Sofia in Constantinople.”  This icon was supposedly painted by Saint Luke, the same Luke whose words are recorded in the Bible.  Bologna Welcome says that the portico “connects the shrine with the town and provides a shelter for the procession which every year since 1433 has brought the Byzantine Madonna with Child to the cathedral downtown (San Pietro) during the Ascension week.” It further reveals that “construction (of the portico) started in 1674″ and before that, the pilgrimage was open to the weather, meaning if the weather was bad the icon would not be brought into the city.

We have a picture of this icon, but we’ll get to that later.  This is the image from Wikipedia‘s site:

Picture by Hay Kranen / PD

The first portion of the portico trail was interesting because we didn’t really know where we were going and were hoping that just following the portico path would lead us there, because this section looked much like the rest of the portici in Bologna adorned with shops, houses, and openings for connecting roads, but mostly because it was leaning.


Some a bit more than others:


Even though the portico arches are numbered – with 1 being the arch across the street from Porta Saragozza – the start of the up hill climb actually begins at the Arco del Meloncello.


This beautiful archway kind of comes out of nowhere if you are walking the portico path because so much of your view is blocked by the columns.  The archway serves as a bridge, letting you cross Via Saragozza, but it also acts as a clear delineation between the portico of Bologna and the portico leading to San Luca.  Suddenly you are not surrounded by buildings, but rather, clearly following a path with one purpose, ascend the hill.


And soon after crossing the Arco del Meloncello, our views became amazing.

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At times, in the city, we find the level of restoration, or rather lack of restoration, to be beautiful and sad at the same time.  The same was true for the portici as we climbed.

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But after weaving our way up, up, up, we finally managed to reach San Luca.

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And I found another of my little friends.


Construction of the church, as it stands now, began in 1723 and was completed in 1757.  It was designed by Carlo Francesco Dotti and his son, Giovanni Giacomo.  Dotti also designed the Arco del Meloncello.  As I’ve stated in previous posts, I am a fan of all things gargoyle, but I was in awe of the simplistic design of San Luca.  There were very few ornate decorations (on the exterior), but the curvature of the building as a whole was just remarkable.

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However, if the church was beautiful, the view on the hill was absolutely breathtaking.  It gave us a view of Bologna’s surrounding area that we had never seen before.

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After taking in the view for a while, we made our way up the spiraled staircase and found the entrance, which contained some of the first and only decoration adorning the exterior of the church.

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There was a sign at the door that had pictures of what you were not supposed to do while inside.  Along with a few other items it contained a no cell phone and no camera image, but we weren’t exactly sure what those images meant.  Did it mean not to use your phone or camera at all, or did it mean not to talk on your phone or use your camera’s flash?  There were several other people inside using both, so we decided to take a few photos, but to try to be discrete. 

As simple and beautiful as the exterior of the church was, the interior was a totally different matter.  Though equally stunning in its own way, I found that some of the color was a bit distracting (I can’t state this enough though…it was still gorgeous, just odd compared to its exterior).

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I’m glad we were able to find an image of the Madonna and child icon, because here are our pictures of it (in the golden archway under the sun-looking item):

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After leaving the interior, we walked around a bit more, checking out the amazing view.  

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We even had a snack.


With our upward journey complete, it was now time to begin the decent.

A word to the wise here…if you are walking 2 and a half miles (plus some to get to our apartment), be sure to use the restroom before you begin your trip.  Neither of us did, and it was about all we could talk about on the way home.  In fact, shamefully, I had to mark a tree.

San Luca actually faces away from the heart of Bologna, but there are a few breaks in the tree line that allow you to get a pretty good view of the city.

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We did snap a few more portico images on our way down.

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All in all, our journey was fantastic, but like everything else here, we are planning to go back.  There were postcards for sale in San Luca‘s “Room of Remembrance” (fancy for “Gift Shop”) that showed the church lit at night.  We have to see it then, though we might take the San Luca Express next time.


Italian word(s) of the day: apre / chiude – opens / closes (because when you’re making a 5 mile trek it’s good to know when the building is going to be opening and closing)

And now you know…

Things we’ve noticed…

Food, glorious food…

I realized something while walking around Bologna today, Brittany and I spend a good bit of time thinking about food.  Does this mean that we are becoming fat slobs eating all the time?  It might sound like it sometimes.  In fact, while Brittany and I have a competition to see who orders the better meal off of a menu (WCBDOMC), because of how much we talk about eating pasta, bread, and gelato, my sister and her husband have a humorous bet about who will come home next year having gained the most weight (I assure you…it will be me).  But, in reality, we do so much walking that neither of us are really fluctuating much.  So what do I mean by my “always thinking about food” comment?  Well, it’s a three parter.

First, although we have gotten much better, we still haven’t completely mastered the art of eating when Italians eat.  These guys eat quite a bit later than we are used to, and most places have very specific opening and closing times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  If you don’t go at just the right time, you might miss out.  So that’s part of it…we have to think about food, because we have to think about when to eat.

Secondly, and a much bigger part, there is food everywhere.  And I mean EVERYWHERE.  For instance, if you walk the two minute walk to get to the end of our street, according to Brittany, you are met with a delightful aroma.  That’s because there is a café there.  Don’t like what you see in their window?  Well just go a few doors down to find a falafel / Chinese place.  Still not what you’re in the mood for?  How about the fruit market just past that?  No?  Go the other direction a bit to find a place specializing in french fries, Patatata.  Their fries are delectable, and a medium cone of them is more than two people can eat (if they are foolish enough to think a cone of fries is a side to a calzone apiece).  Plus, they have over 20 different condiments for your fries…Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise, Tarter, Cocktail, Curry, Barbecue, and so many more that I don’t even know how to translate.

And our little imaginary food trip doesn’t even count the pizza places we pass because there are so many of them.  At these stops you can buy a slice or a whole pie.  It also doesn’t take into consideration crossing the street, where there are several more options available.

All of that within a five minute walk of our house – it’s no wonder that we are constantly thinking about food.

The third and final part, almost all of the food looks extremely tasty.  I say almost for one reason…at this point in our trip, when passing a fish market, whole (and usually giant) fish, squid, eel, crab, and globs of what you can only assume are aquatic animals don’t quite seem “tasty” to us yet, mainly because we have no idea how to clean and cook any of it.


But every thing else…it’s kind of a problem.  Every item in a pasticceria (pastry shop) makes your mouth water…chocolate tarts, pies in all flavors (apricot, peach, blueberry, strawberry, even mustard), cookies, donuts…I want them all.  Every cheese shop, every butcher, every fruit/vegetable market, every vendor selling freshly made pasta and lasagna…all drag you to the window so that you can marvel at what food should be.  But you can’t try everything…right?



Pasta / Pastry:






And Pastry:


And nestled in-between all of these fresh markets are ristoranti (fine-dining restaurants), trattoria (home-cooked restaurants), and osteria (restaurants with large, shared tables); each with their own unique menus providing antipasti (appetizers), primo piatto (first dish), second piatto (second dish), and dolci (dessert).  If it helps to put things in perspective for you, when Brittany and I went to 7 Archi for her birthday, a huge, mouthwatering portion of lasagna was on their first dish menu and steak was on their second dish menu.  We had an appetizer, and I had the lasagna and felt like I would be full for a week.  I can’t image adding a steak and some type of dessert to our meal.  So much food…

Holiday anyone…

The date I’m actually writing this blog is October 11, 2015.  20 days before Halloween, a couple of months before Thanksgiving, with Christmas just around the corner.  While Thanksgiving is a given (for those of you that don’t know…the Italians don’t celebrate the great feast of turkey…not sure why), Brittany and I have seen 1…let’s count that again…1 advertisement for something having to do with Halloween.


Before we left, which was in August, there were already stores at home with bags full of candy stacked in every conceivable nook; here we have seen one little ad, in one little pizza shop’s window, for one little Halloween themed event.  (As an update,  since starting this post, we have now seen the same ad in 2 other locations, so for the sake of honesty I must say that we have seen 3 Halloween ads…for 1 event.)  No candy flooding the aisles of the grocery store.  No masks in shop windows.  Nothing.  It serves as both a relief and a shock.    The relief – things are not as commercialized here (note I said “not as” meaning it’s still commercialized just not as much).  Also, the markets are tiny to begin with, I can’t imagine trying to navigate through one where the little bit of maneuver space has been packed with candy.  The shock – I want my bags of tiny candy!  Some of you may claim that you buy candy for the trick-or-treaters, but let’s be honest, you buy the boring candy for them and the Laffy-Taffy, Nerds, Snickers, Reese’s, Twix, etc. for you.  I have no lie to tell…Brittany and I have never bought candy for trick-or-treaters, but we have bought several bags of Halloween candy for ourselves; but there’s none to buy here.  The trade off is fair though, it’s difficult enough trying to navigate through a place where very few people speak your language.  I imagine the difficulty would multiply exponentially if those same people were also wearing costumes…regardless of costume choice.

On a different page in the same book, I saw on Facebook that some people had already seen a Christmas ad or two on TV back home.  Christmas?  We haven’t even started with Halloween here!  When will the jolly fat man start appearing in shop windows?  Will he be available at the mall for children to take pictures with??  I’m wondering if they even know how to properly celebrate holidays here?!?!  Don’t they know they have to spend all their time shopping?  Standing in long lines?  Eating until they literally feel like they are going to burst?  (Ok, those first few were sarcasm, but we’re seriously going to miss the last one.)

I’m a giant…

I’m tall, but I’m not really tall, or very tall, or even pretty tall…just plain old tall; however, sometimes in Italy I feel really, very, pretty tall.  I feel a lot like Buddy the Elf while he’s at the North Pole.  This is especially true in our apartment.

Here I am in the living room, trying not to bash my head against the bed (yes, our bed is above the living room):


Here I am in the shower:


Here I am forgetting to duck when I come in from the balcony:


Oh yeah!


And here I am with the world’s tiniest coffee cup:


See…I’m a giant.

In reality I do bang my head on the ceiling pretty often while showering, but there’s not really much room to get momentum going so it doesn’t bother me. (Other than my second shower where I thought I was getting into nice, warm water.  It ended up being melt your flesh water and my first instinct was to jump…bad idea.)  The only time I’ve actually, seriously bashed my noggin was coming in from the balcony.  I was thinking more about the laundry we were putting up than the door.  I plowed right into the door frame and had to sit down for a while after.  That one still hurts a bit.

Pizza anyone…

Italians, more specifically, Italians from Naples, are the creators of all things pizza, so they have a little more leeway when it comes to their topping choices; still though, Brittany and I have been surprised by a few.  When Brittany inadvertently ordered anchovies one day, we were surprised, but we still ate it.  After all, anchovies may not be a popular pizza topping back home, but it is an option.  No, this post is about the items we wouldn’t have even thought about putting on pizza.  For instance, Nutella.  Granted, that’s a dessert, and putting Nutella on anything seems possible here, but still…it’s not something readily available back home.  There’s also slices of ham.  Yes, we have ham, Canadian bacon, and bacon bacon on pizza, but here sliced deli ham has been on several slices we’ve ordered.  Blue cheese is another delicious option not frequently found on topping menus back home.  But by far, the most prevalent “odd” topping we’ve come across is the potato.  Almost every pizza establishment has at least two readily available staples; in America these would be Cheese and Pepperoni, but here they are Margherita and Patata.  Margherita pizzas can be found back home, although they are a bit fresher here, but they consist of tomato sauce and mozzarella.  We have seen the Patata (potato) pizza served in a couple of different forms (whole, small potatoes and french fried potatoes), but I’m sure it comes in others.  Regardless of form, it is usually served with sausage.  Brittany and I have both tried the potato pizza, and while I was really excited about french fries on my sausage pizza, I must say that neither of us have been exceedingly impressed so far.  I think it’s because the potatoes taste too much like potatoes.  Toppings on a pizza are full of flavor and add to the overall spice, potatoes just kind of potato along.  We’ll keep trying though.

Other interesting toppings of note: radish, hot dog, zucchini, artichokes, tuna, and mixed vegetables.  I also had a pizza that consisted on fresh tomatoes, spinach leaves, cured ham, and no sauce.  The only thing “cooked” on the pizza was the crust.  As things tend to be here, it was delicious…but fairly difficult to eat.


Oh well, we’re happy to experience new pizza toppings.  After all, it’s still pizza!


Italian word(s) of the day: marito and moglie – husband and wife (because Brittany and I will be celebrating our 6 months anniversary on the day this is posted)

October 4, 2015 – IKEA Bologna

This weekend was supposed to be our trip to Firenze (Florence), but because Brittany’s Thursday class was canceled and rescheduled to Saturday (weird…I know), we had to alter our plans a bit.  Instead of Florence we went to the haven of European living – IKEA.

For those of you who have never been to an IKEA, here’s the layout.  When you enter you are instantly in Displayland.  Every square footage, with the exception of the yellow brick road* that guides you through this magical land, is set up to look like your dream kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc. and when you see something you want…or NEED…you grab a sheet from the provided notepad and a handy dandy little pencil to write down its item number or item numbers (* said path is neither yellow nor brick).  After leaving Displayland, you enter the less magical, but more useful, Individually-Packed-Items-Land, where each item you passed and many, many, many (times infinity) more items are available for purchase.

It’s really an interesting adventure, especially here in Bologna, because so many people go to IKEA to get their basic supplies, which means the aisles are packed full of people.  We needed a blanket (check), a coffee maker (check), a kettle (check), towels (check), and a few other non-essential items (all check), but couldn’t help adding a few things to our shopping bag as we went along.  All in all it was a successful trip.

However, this story is not about shopping at IKEA, it’s the story of how we had to get to IKEA.  If anything, I hope this post serves as a guide to future Bologna tourists who are trying to get to the magical land of stuff.  Our story begins as many of our Bologna trips have…we tried to do some research…

After we decided we needed a few goods and IKEA would be our best place to get them all, we started researching how to get to IKEA.  Since we have slowly gotten acclimated to walking everywhere we go, my first thought was to just walk there.  In hindsight, I’m really glad Brittany talked me out of that.  Our second idea was taking the bus.  This seemed like the best solution since all of the information we found about getting to the Bologna IKEA revolved around taking the bus…it even has its own bus dedicated to transferring people back and forth.  Ahh…it sounded so easy.  We kept looking online a the different Bologna bus sights, but 1) it was all in Italian and 2) none of them seemed to say anything about the IKEA bus.  We finally managed to figure out that the bus we were looking for apparently stops in three different places in Bologna before heading to IKEA.  First stop, near the train station.  Second stop, in front of the Honda dealership.  Third stop, near the Basilica di Saint Francesco.  We knew where all three of these places were, but since the train station was closest to our flat, we decided that would be the one we went to.

How to describe the train station area?  It is on the outer edge of the main section of town, the area that once contained the walls and porte, so it has a larger road in front of it.  In fact, it is almost directly in front of the Porta Galleria.  On one side of the street you have an area set up for tourists just getting off the bus…lots of markets, food places, etc.  And down this strip there are red poles every so often.  Each of these red poles are a stopping point for a different bus route (so if the first red pole is stop 1 it might have routes 1, 7, 13, and 24…next pole is stop 2 and it has routes 3, 5, 15, and 37…etc), but each of these routes intertwine and intersect to the point that I couldn’t figure out any of their actual paths.  And none of them said IKEA.  Across the street is the actual train station, but in front of the station is a horseshoe shaped area with more stops, and those stops didn’t even have road maps with destinations, they just had route numbers!  Again, we had done research for our trip and we knew that a bus would stop at this location at 2:30 to take us to IKEA, but all it said was that the stop was in front of the train station…and time was quickly skipping its way to 2:30.  

We circled the perimeter looking for any sign saying IKEA, but found none.  We had arrived thirty minutes early just to accommodate such a situation, but with so little time to spare we might not have come early enough.  And the IKEA shuttle only runs every hour, so if we missed this bus we would have to wait an hour for the next one…and what if we still couldn’t find the bus’ landing zone.  Panic began to ease its way into our thoughts.  There were suggestions of trying to run to one of the other, much smaller, areas, but with so little time to spare, we knew the likelihood of us making it was little to none.  Because we thought the bus had to be going through town to reach its other two stops, we positioned ourselves across the street from the train station and began trying to read the LED sign on each bus that passed, which is not easy because of all the portici and because all the titles are in Italian.  Then Brittany had a brilliant thought…if the IKEA shuttle is not part of the actual Bologna bus system, it probably won’t be the same color as all the other buses, which is red.  Brilliant…at least now we could start narrowing our search down.  Orange bus…not our bus.  Silver bus…not our bus.  White bus…

Brittany watched the small, white bus pass because there was no LED sign indicating its destination, but I saw one word…SACA.  It was like a light bulb being blasted on in a pitch black room.  I had seen that word in our IKEA research.  Without thought I yelled at Brittany to follow and we took off chasing the bus.  We passed all of the red pole bus stops and I began to think that we were chasing a delivery truck of some kind, but just as the strip ended the bus stopped.  But we were still giving chase.  There were so many people trying to get to the train station or to this bus stop or that bus stop, and so many of those people had luggage taking up precious sidewalk space that we were forced to bob and weave, zig and zag, but we finally managed to reach the bus.  There, a small, nondescript sign stood, with a word on only one side…the side we wouldn’t have seen when walking by it…was the word IKEA…at last we had found it.  I felt like Samwise to Brittany’s Frodo and we had found the path to Mordor.  (FYI…I knew this would happen, but as Brittany read this blog to make edits, she questioned why I got to be Samwise and she was stuck as Frodo.  So…I felt like Gimli to Brittany’s Legolas…better Brittany?  Ok.  We move on.)  Granted, maybe it wasn’t as bad as all that, I mean, IKEA is definitely not Mordor, but when you’re in a foreign place trying to do simple things, like boarding a bus, takes on an adventure-like quality.  And sometimes having a little bit more information to help you out goes a long, long way.

So travelers, grab your towels, and listen to the end of our little tale.

If you’re in Bologna trying to visit the IKEA:

  1. From Viale Pietro Pietramellara (across from the train station):
    1. Go to the literal corner of Viale Pietro Pietramellara and Piazza XX Settembre
    2. Look for the SACA sign in front of the Tabbaccheria on the Pietramellara side of the corner
    3. The bus was very close to being there exactly when it said it would be (for us anyway).  Look for a white, medium sized bus marked SACA.
    4. Pay the bus driver when getting on the bus.  (€3 for a one way trip or €4 for a round trip)  He/she will give you a business card sized paper with the date written on it.  Be sure to keep up with this.
  2. From Via Guglielmo Marconi (in front of the Honda dealership):
    1. I can’t tell you exactly where the SACA sign is since I was on the bus at that point, but we stopped directly in between the Cassa di Risparmio di Cesena shop and the G.I. Store
    2. Follow previous steps C and D
  3. From Piazza Malpighi (near Basilica di Saint Francesco)
    1. Same as before, I can’t tell you exactly, but we stopped just past the statue that stands in the middle of Piazza Malpighi (the same street as Via Guglielmo Marconi)
    2. Follow previous steps C and D
  4. You will ride a way crossing, and then getting on, the highway.  The bus will drop you off in front of IKEA.
  5. Remember to try and time your checkout with the bus’ return route, and make sure you have you return trip card.  We had a couple of fairly large bags full of goods that fit on the bus, but it looked like some people were putting larger items under the bus…can’t guarantee that though.

And as always…

Italian word(s) of the day: letto – bed (because after a long adventure to Mordor…I mean…IKEA…you need a good rest)

And now you know…

A Room with a View…

I was looking through the back hallways of my WordPress account and realized there was a draft of a post sitting there waiting to be completed…for 7 months.  The post?  Just a little bit about the amazing view that we have from our apartment.  And since our time in Italia has officially drawn to a close, I thought it might be nice to finish what had been started.  Plus, I know more about what we’re looking at now that we’ve been here for a while.


When we moved in to our new flat at the beginning of October (2015), I posted a few pictures to let everyone know a little about the new place, but now I want to give more information about what we can look out and see every day.

It fascinates me to look out the window and see towers and buildings that have been stoically standing there since the 12th century.  Yes, our view might be a bit more crowded, but the reality is that we are getting a view that is remarkable similar to what someone saw 900 years ago.


To the North:

Well, the northern view from the apartment is just wall, so we’ll skip that and move ahead.


To the West:

Our western view is pretty spectacular (even if you have to duck down to look out the floor window to see it).  Along with all of the beautifully tiled rooftops, we get views of multiple bell towers and our lone evergreen tree.

West View

From Right to Left:

  • The Chiesa di San Sigismondo is in the foreground of a tower at the Teatro Communale di Bologna.  The Chiesa di San Sigismondo was first built in the 13th century but was rebuilt between 1725-28.  The bell tower that can be seen from our window was added in 1792 and decorated in 1870 (bibliotics salaborsa).  The church houses Blessed Imelda Lambertini who may or may not be an incorrupt.  (Not going to go into a ton of detail because I don’t know much about it.  For more information see Incorrupt.)  Incorruptibility is a “belief that Divine intervention allows some human bodies (specifically saints and beati) to avoid the normal process of decomposition after death as a sign of their holiness.”
  • I’m not sure what purpose the bulbous-shaped tower behind the San Sigismondo bell tower serves.  I only know that it is directly behind the Opera House.

_MG_6963 - Bologna - Via Sant'Apollonia 9 - (5-21-16)

  • Basilica di San Giacomo Maggiore‘s bell tower can be seen as well.  Construction on this basilica began in 1257, but, from what I’ve read, the bell tower wasn’t added until the 15th century.

_MG_6964 - Bologna - Via Sant'Apollonia 9 - (5-21-16)

  • We visited the Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro very early in our Bologna travels, and now, remarkably, we can see a portion of it from our window.  According to Bologna Welcome, this bell tower is the “second tallest tower in the town.”  (This is one of those examples where I know more about the structure now (May 2016) than I did when first writing this blog.  The San Pietro bell tower that we see from our kitchen window is one of the towers we saw on our Tower Tour.)
  • It’s a shame the building on the left isn’t just a few feet further left.  If it were, we would have a nice view of Le Due Torri.

_MG_6965 - Bologna - Via Sant'Apollonia 9 - (5-21-16)


To the South:

The southern view is one of the most remarkable that we have.  With our little window we can see rooftops melding into rooftops melding into other rooftops for as far as the eye can see, and with every rooftop comes a smattering of chimneys.  It is amazing to see how buildings that seem completely separate from the street are intertwined, even if there is no access between them other than a shared roof.

South View

From right to left –

  • The Basilica di Santa Maria dei Servi is a familiar sight to Brittany and I as we have walked past it many times while living at our first apartment.  In front of the church is a large open space with several marble columns.  To the left of the church is a beautiful example of the portici that line so much of the city’s streets.  We had only gotten glimpses of the tower from afar though, as the rear churchyard is fenced in.  We now have access to a view of its tower.

_MG_6971 - Bologna - Via Sant'Apollonia 9 - (5-21-16).JPG

  • The next tower seems to belong to the Comune di Bologna – San Vitale (City Hall / Town Hall).  You cannot see the tower from the street, but I can find it on a map; however, I cannot find any information about it.

_MG_6969 - Bologna - Via Sant'Apollonia 9 - (5-21-16)


To the East:

Far and away the best feature of our apartment is the balcony…how we were able to land a room with such a spectacular feature I’ll never know. (I think Brittany had something to do with it…)  This area, though small, places us square in the center of Italian living.

_MG_1446 - Bologna - 9 Via Sant'Apollonia - (10-1-15).JPG

_MG_1441a - Bologna - 9 Via Sant'Apollonia - (10-1-15)

  • Parrocchia di S. Maria della Pietà is the grandiose building claiming most of the top portion of the view in the photo above.  This church was built in 1601, and is called Beggar for the famous altarpiece of the “Pieta of the Beggars” by Guido Reni, now kept in the Pinacoteca Nazionale (Wikimapia).  I would say its nickname (and more than likely the placement of the altarpiece) comes from the fact that the church also served as a “hospital of poor orphan beggars.” (OrigineBologna)
    • FYI – We saw the painting by Reni when we visited the Pinacoteca.




Street View

Of course, no tour of our apartment would be complete without a few shots of the exterior.  In the photo below, our apartment is the top window of the tall yellow building.

_MG_6800 - Bologna - 9 Via Sant'Apollonia - (5-18-16)

When we first moved in the exterior building doorframe was grey, but it was (poorly) painted yellow not long after.  Luckily they left our flamingos.

_MG_6796 - Bologna - 9 Via Sant'Apollonia - (5-18-16)

And across the street we have a bit more graffiti.  I actually really like this person’s simplistic work.  We’ve seen similar pieces all over town.

_MG_6798 - Bologna - 9 Via Sant'Apollonia - (5-18-16)

Like this guy…

_MG_6908 - Bologna - Strada Maggiore (Street Art) - (5-18-16)


Well, that does it for our apartment views.  (We sure are going to miss them…)


Brittany and I are now officially back in the States (we’ve been back for 5 days now), and looking back at our spectacular views makes us both homesick.  This was an opportunity not many people get in life, and I’m grateful that Brittany took advantage of it.

We’ll be back to Bologna one day…

October 1, 2015

It’s hard to believe that today officially marks our second month in Italy.  Before we left, a few people back home made reference to the fact that time would fly for us, but not so much for them.  This is holding up to be true.  Talking with Brittany this morning, we both realized that while we desperately miss being able to see family and friends, we don’t really miss America at all yet.  There is just so much to see and do here.  I’m sure there will come a time when homesickness sets in and we will just want to do something American (like Thanksgiving coming up soon {that also includes our nephew Dylan’s first birthday and my mom’s birthday} that will make us miss stuffing a turkey and ourselves), but right now it’s still just the adventure of a lifetime.

I honor of our first month, we thought we’d post a few pictures of our first flat in Italy, which we are moving out of today.  We thought we’d do this for people back home, but also so that Brittany and I can go back, look, and remember what a fantastic time that we’ve had.

The exterior of our apartment when we moved in on September 1st!


The exterior as it looks on October 1st.  They started working on the roof around the middle of the month, maybe even a bit earlier.  Construction began every weekday morning at about 7:30.  It also meant we could no longer open our bedroom windows. 😦


Speaking of the bedroom though, here it is…all clean and ready for the next guest.


The same goes for the kitchen/living room. Shutters closed:


Shutters open:


To see our beautiful view of Via San Petronio Vecchio:


And let’s not forget one of our favorite cool Italian things…the awesome key to our apartment!


But as we say Arrivederci to one door…


…we say Buongiorno to another.


It’s quite the haul up these daunting set of stairs, although, as our new landlord said, everything past the little fence is our property.  And as Brittany pointed out…it’s like our own little picket fence.  We’ll come back to the little grey door with the tiny doormat a little later.


Here’s a view of our living room/bedroom on Via Sant’Apollonia.


And a better view of the space between our bed and the ceiling.


Some of the new space will take some getting used to…like sleeping in a bunk bed for the first time in 20 years, but others won’t take long at all…like our new view…

These shots are from our living room window.

_MG_1440 _MG_1441

And remember the little grey door with the tiny doormat?  Well it leads to these shots from our own private balcony!!!

_MG_1446 _MG_1442

Don’t worry, there will be more balcony photos to come.  It was raining and we didn’t want to get soaked…even though our balcony has a retractable awning!  We also need to find out more about our surroundings…like what is that giant church?

Anyway, our kitchen is actually pretty modern, which is nice.  Unlike our first place, it has an electric stove and almost full size refrigerator (even though that’s in the living room).  It has a sloping ceiling that leads to this fancy floor window modeled by both Brittany and myself.

_MG_1449 _MG_1451

And finally, not to be outdone by its cousin, we have our second awesome Italian key!


All in all, I think we are going to be very happy with both of our places.  Why?  Because we are in ITALY!

Italian word of the day: chiave – key (because they give you access to awesome places to live, and because they are so darn interesting here in Italy)