Italian Journey Part 3

Day 10 – The Mother of Student Cities

„In the evening I finally rescued myself from this old, venerable city, from the crowd, which can walk, gawk, buy and do their business in the vaulted arcades, which can be seen almost all over the streets, sheltered from sun and weather.“
– Goethe, Bologna, 18. October 1787, at night

09:50 a.m., Bologna

After I had waited two hours in the park yesterday, I waited another half an hour in front of the aforementioned address. There a friendly Italian at the end of 20 welcomed me . He showed me around in my new home. I also have two roommates here: two middle-aged men who work at the market – very relaxed contemporaries, met them yesterday evening – otherwise everything is there, from bathroom to kitchen and my room is almost too big.

Finally I talked briefly with my host about our subjects. He is studying Nursing – yes, there is such a thing in Italy as a subject of study. Then he pressed a thick bunch of keys into my hand for the numerous locks on the door. I thanked him, refreshed myself in the bathroom and packed my things.

Like a  firebolt of Zeus, which is thrown from Olympus with the might of gods I shot off to explore Bologna. I had already marked some places on the map and so I headed first of all towards the university. I arrived at the Faculty of Physiology and Educational Sciences. Unfortunately, the herbariums were only accessible to students. I stumbled across a campus and spotted numerous students as they went to student talks every now and then.

Some of the buildings were quite old and sublime. I came more by chance to the part of the old town that is used exclusively for university purposes. A paradise opened in front of me. A myriad of young people, on foot and by bike, among ancient walls, shops and faculty buildings.

With shining eyes I scanned every inch of the facades. But first I had to eat. For 5€ there was a small plate of spaghetti Vongole e Cozze with a drink in my eyes, manageable, but super cheap and tasty. While I was sitting there, armies of colourful people, and in between tourists, passed me by.

The Teatro Communale forms the heart of this part of town, where a medium-sized piazza was laid out, on which further cafés, copy shops, libraries and bars, everything a student needs, are lined up. Directly opposite the Faculty of Law, there was a big, still much older building that proved to be the Tempio di San Giacomo Maggiore.


So I entered a spiritual building in Bologna for the first time. At this sight I unconsciously had to lift my hat. Photos were not allowed and I respect such commandments. In this case it was of double benefit to me.

Two middle-aged ladies were already sitting inside and one of them, like a standard of ignorance, held up her smartphone with a Selfiestick. The other protagonist in this episode was an old lady selling souvenirs and the like alone at a stand inside the church.

When she saw the cell phone, she ran determinedly and with a serious look at the wrong-doer. „No foto!“ she nagged the lady in her face, who reacted visibly irritated. The old lady pointed this out to her in a hot Italian, outside there was a very clear sign. The evildoer pretended not to understand a word. To top it all off, she said they came from Spain and therefore did not provide anything.

Then the old woman burst up and said, if she would exert herself a little, then she already understands what the old woman meant here. In fact, even a Nepalese rice farmer would understand what the old woman was declaiming here. When her anger was gone and the lady had run out of her meaningless, confused gestures, the old woman shuffled behind her stand again.

In this temple there were huge oil paintings in chapels on the side walls. Most of them from the 16th century. Despite their age, the colours shone as if they had just been painted and the features of the portrayed people looked as if they had been photographed. I practiced my eye for detail and admired a painting showing a scene in which muscle-bound men tripped over each other in the face of the Holy Spirit, symbolized by a white dove hovering above their heads.

The muscle parts were worked out so detailed by the colorful bodies of the warriors that I caught myself briefly at the thought of taking a photo. However, the dragon sat exactly in my back and so I did not dare to reignite an already smouldering embers.

Strolling through the old town, I visited another church, which was also pompously elaborated and decorated with busts, statues and paintings of saints, frescoes, murals and elaborate stucco. It was the church of St. Barthlomeo.

The old town of Bologna is more densely covered with churches than a Thai city with „7-elevens“. I went indiscriminately into another one, which was also overly elaborate and bursting with pomp. This confirmed my suspicion that probably all churches were so blatant, so I let the churches be churches.

In any case, churches have become more a place of money making. For certain parts one must pay, in order to be allowed to enter, partly up to 3€. For 50 cents one can have pictures and altars lit, electronic candles can be lit for one euro and souvenir stands are also available in almost every holy building. Rights to make pictures can also be purchased and the obligatory donation boxes are present anyway.

„The hanging tower is an abominable sight, and nevertheless most probably that it was built with diligence in such a way. I explain this folly as follows. In the times of urban unrest, every great building became a fortress, from which every powerful family raised a tower. Little by little this became a matter of pleasure and honour, but I also wanted to have a tower, and when the straight towers were too common, they built one crooked. Also the architect and the owner have achieved their purpose, one looks at the many slender towers and looks for the crooked one.“
– Goethe, Bologna, 18 October 1787, at night

I saw the two Torri di Bologna in the city centre. What seemed „disgusting“ to Goethe today seems peculiar at best. Like a strange homage to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Bologna’s angular defensive tower rises into the sky with an adventurous inclination.

The effect is not too scarce, because next to it the brother of the crooked Scheusal also rises above the roofs of the city, visible from afar, but it stands straight as a die. The theory of the great spirit is, similar to his weather theory, quite creative, but at the same time quite adventurous, but I can’t provide a perfect correction for this either.

I turned into the Strada del Jazz and reached the Piazza Maggiore with aching hollows of my knees and worn joints. I also visited the great Basilica of St. Perroino, which is obviously the main tourist destination of Bologna. The gigantic hall was filled with virtuoso organ music, which demonstrated the wonderful acoustics, but was rather annoying. Already saturated and not really overwhelmed, I went out again.

I visited the municipal library, which I also didn’t like very much. The hunger quoted me around 18:00 clock again direction student district. I dragged myself into a bar, drank a beer after work and took a pizza. Slowly the student evening bustle started and as I wanted to celebrate a bit, I hurried home to refresh myself.

I asked my host for a party and he gave me an address downtown. Refreshed and dressed as a student, I started armed with two beers. I got lost once roughly and once only a little. Finally I arrived.

Menschen - Sillhouetten

As I learned towards the end, the address was a building occupied by a left-wing movement called Labas, where regular festivities are held. The inner courtyard of the building continued to fill with young people until midnight.

A duo consisting of a MC and a DJ on a SP404 and a drum machine provided the musical entertainment. The DJ had it right and so I spent the evening watching his arts.

Around 24:00 o’clock the music was switched off. That fit me quite well, because I was completely finished. So I dragged myself home half limping, half swaying with a beer to go.

This the english translation of the article:

Italienische Reise Teil 3

Translated with:

By Marco Lo Voi

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