Thursday, March 01, 2012

In Bologna on the first day...

I s-l-e-p-t...
In Bologna on the second day...

I smiled back at the accordion player resting on the stoop underneath the porticoes. I'd given him 2 Euros on my first trip past him as I made my way toward the city center from my hotel. I supposed we were friends now and wondered if he'd offer sympathy when told I'd become terribly lost and had apparently wandered in a large circle. I had, you see, not planned to see him again but was grateful for the landmark, such as it was.

As an introduction to Italy, Bologna is charming. Smart and liberal, ancient and lovely, I wandered the flat streets on a gorgeous day, sweater fluttering around my waist as the hem of my skirt tickled the backs of my knees.

Despite the easy arrival at BLQ and quick taxi ride to my internationally-friendly hotel (with a giant bed and impressive view of the city), I could not get to sleep last night. So I awakened predictably grumpy and wishing I could sleep more and work less. But a huge breakfast - rolls, croissant, chocolate croissant, cheeses and ham and bologna (!), eggs, coffee and fruit so soft and sweet I closed my eyes to savor it - improved my mood enough to set off on a limited-time adventure before I was to meet a colleague.

I got lost, of course, because my sense of direction is the exact opposite of correct. Even knowing this, I possess this odd belief that I must be oriented correctly until I exist in a place far from where I meant to be.

So then I turn around.

But getting lost in the sunshine under either a bright blue sky or elegantly arching porticoes seemed not such as disaster. I was also carrying naught but my tiny bag and felt deliciously unencumbered after my Parisian trudge.

Finally deciding that Via Maggiore must go to Piazza Maggiore if I went in the correct direction, I did find Neptune ruling over his fountain. He was smaller than I expected, which made me smile. (Because he was naked.) (Never mind.)

I went to stand between the 2 Towers as per the plan and admired their slants, deciding I found the tipsy tilt adorable as I thought of weak foundations under too-large egos. And I waited for quite some time because Italian time apparently only has a loose relationship with actual clocks. But then we went for coffee and a sweet and I lapsed into silence while having a private moment with my tiramisu.

We worked and then I waited while she caught up with other Italian counterparts, stifling a yawn and sighs of impatience. I returned to my room to catch up on some email and freshen up before dinner.

"15 minutes?" I guessed when asked how long we spent eating where I live. "Maybe 30."

When my Italian companions looked shocked and appalled, I smiled and sipped some more wine before reaching for more bread and cheese (and pasta and vegetables and more pasta and other kinds of cheese).

"I'm sorry," I apologized 3 hours later. "But it's after 11. And I'm exhausted - just too Midwestern to handle it."

Still, I've loved to visit both these days...
And if you ask me why, I'll say...
Oscar Mayer has a way with b-o-l-o-g-n-a.

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