Snippets of Bologna

Our visit to Bologna earlier this year was wonderful. My favorite part of the visit was the food, of course, but I also liked the red buildings. The Italians refer to the city as “the red one” (la rossa) in part because of the red bricks and roofs in its historic center but also because after WWII it became a center of socialism and communism. Its other nicknames are “la dotta”, or learned one, because the oldest European university is located here; and “la grassa” (fat), because of its cuisine.

Window looking into canal

We discovered a little canal on one of our walks. In the photo above, Todd is taking pictures of the canal. The photo below is very overexposed on the top but when I cropped that part out, it didn’t seem balanced. My Photoshop skills are not advanced enough to fix it. For a better view of the canal on the other side of the street, see this post.

Reflection on a canal in Bologna

Red brick

Old Roman ruin near the train station in Bologna

It’d be amazing to live in a city with old Roman ruins mingled with everyday buildings. This is one of my favorite things about Europe – the old and the new living harmoniously together. I love the sense of history that permeates Europe but some of it is very sad.

Roman ruin and old street light

Reflection and Art Deco window grates

Budino di Riso (Rice Torte)

Torta di Riso. Photo by Todd Mecklem.

We arrived in Lucca with plenty of time to spare before our hotel’s reception desk opened. We went to a little cafe with outdoor seating because we really needed a snack to perk us up. We ordered coffee and some budino di riso, which is a baked rice pudding. It’s a traditional dessert from the northern part of Italy. What I liked about it was that it was sweet and comforting but not so filling it spoiled our appetites. I’m not a big fan of rice but I’ll eat it this way!

I plan to bake one of these soon (this weekend?) and top it with fresh berries from the farmers’ market. There’s a recipe that looks promising on Martin Yarnit’s blog, Bologna- Italy’s Best Kept Food Secret. I like his friend’s mother’s recipe because it’s the basic version and doesn’t have a crust. Simple, comforting, delicious.

Certosa Cemetery, Bologna

One of the off-beat things my sweetie and I like to do on our trips is to visit local cemeteries. I think it’s really interesting to see the different ways our beloveds who die are honored. My very limited experience is that in France, Italy, and Mexico, cemeteries are contemplative spaces with interesting sculpture and stories. The Maryland cemetery my grandparents are buried in is so boring – the headstones must be flat so the grass can be properly mowed, there are rules about flowers and trinkets that can be left, and very few people wander around. In contrast, we always see people at foreign cemeteries wandering around looking at the graves.

Certosa Cemetery is in Bologna, outside the walls of the city. It was previously a monastery, founded in 1334, and closed 1n 1797. In 1801 the cemetery was established, and the monastery was remodeled and incorporated into the design as the mausoleum. It’s a beautiful cemetery with amazing art and sculpture, and was visited by Dickens, Byron, and Stendhal on their grand tours of Italy. For more information see the Associations of Significant European Cemeteries website.

One thing I really liked about this cemetery was the photographs of people on the graves. It makes the grave seem less anonymous, and gives us a tiny glimpse of who the person was. There were lots of real flowers on the graves, and we saw a number of people tidying them. Sadly, my grandparents’ graves probably haven’t been visited, much less tidied, in years. I suggested a picnic at the cemetery one time but my cousins thought it was a bizarre idea.

Famiglia. Photo by Sue Mecklem

Famiglia Masi. Photo by Sue Mecklem

Gravestone with family photos. Photo by Sue Mecklem

Child's gravestone. Photo by Sue Mecklem