January 8-12, 2017: Back to the Books/Bologna

Photo album: https://goo.gl/photos/59xGZsKMg5oL7Qyk8

After a couple of weeks traveling around with my family, I was back in Bologna. Traveling is exhausting and I hadn’t studied at all for my upcoming exams. It’s hard to study after break. Thankfully the US always does exams before the holidays but the Europeans unfortunately do not.

While studying in my room, I had too many things plugged into the outlets, or I had a dirty plug or something. Whatever it was, I blew a fuse and all the lights went out. Surprisingly this is the first time this has happened to me in my apartment. I was able to turn it back on easily, but then I knelt down to look at the outlet I blew and noticed mold growing on my walls. And then I started exploring some more walls and noticed more mold. I’m almost certain that wasn’t there before I left for break. We usually get condensation on our windows, despite them being double paned, and I guess while we were away the apartment wasn’t airing out and so it just built up and dripped down the walls and accumulated mold. I noticed it underneath out window in the living room as well. Julia noticed that the wooden cabinet unit was accumulating mold as was the knife block. So we tossed the knife block and called Salvatore. He helped me clean up some of the walls with a bleach solution. But it wasn’t until later that we had noticed the cabinets. It was everywhere. It was exhausting but I think I got all of it. And I had Salvatore buy me a dehumidifier for my room. It fills in one day! My apartment is very humid, our heating is too good. I can’t imagine this is a new problem though. The previous tenants must have run into the same issue, no? We had a little mold in the past by the door, which would also get a lot of condensation in the winter but we didn’t notice it anywhere else at the time. Salvatore had come and check. I think it was the two weeks away. Needless to say, I didn’t need this coming back for exams.

I met mom and dad and Morgan at the train station after their two days in Cinqueterre. It’s not a long walk to the station from my apartment. It’s about 10 minutes at a normal New York pace. More like 20 at an Italian pace, and sometimes you get stuck behind the Italians. They like to walk with their friends across the portico so that you can’t get past them and they walk so damn slow. They’re in no rush.

I arrived at the train station to find dad limping. Before we were worried about mom with all the walking but our situation quickly reversed. He had sprained his ankle falling off a ledge in Cinqueterre. They described it to me and I could envision exactly where it was. He could kind of walk but he was very slow and probably shouldn’t have been walking. We didn’t know how bad it was though so we walked. We ate around my neighborhood though. Their Airbnb was just a couple doors down from my building conveniently. I brought them to Osteria dell’Orsa, one of my favorite spots in the city. Their menu changes daily. It is cheap, reliable, authentic Bolognese cuisine. It’s always packed and they open pretty late.

The city of Bologna is pretty empty in January. It’s almost as bad as it was in August. Everyone went on vacation.  Some places close for January. And others do their renovations in January. And others still close down for good in January. The businesses in Bologna seem to cycle in and out pretty often. I guess it’s pretty easy to start a business but it’s hard to last. The McDonalds by the train station closed—they’re replacing it with a Burger King. So that’s two Mcdonalds and two Burger Kings we have now. My favorite neighborhood Gelateria delle Moline was closed for the holiday. They do gelato in focaccia, basically an ice cream sandwich with warm sweet bread and 3 scoops. It is delicious and cheap and I’ve been raving about it to Morgan (plus their cannolini). But of course, they were closed. And we disappointedly looked for a different gelateria. We walked all over the city looking for one. The one on my street had been closed the whole winter. Cremeria Santo Stefano (already on the opposite end of the city) was closed. Finally, we came to Sorbetteria via Castigilone and it was the only place open. We were determined to get Morgan gelato. I’ve been telling her that Bologna has the best gelato, so she’s been looking forward to it and probably not eating as much gelato in other cities as she otherwise would have. I’d never been to that part of the city. But I’ve always heard that their gelato was the best. And it was very, very good. We bought a whole tub back. After walking all that way, probably a solid 40 minutes, it was worth getting whole tub. We got Morgan some Italian cookies too from a bakery. The real problem is that Italian businesses don’t have websites or if they do, they are not updated. So Google cannot predict hours nor can it predict if the place will be open when you need it. I wanted to take everyone to Spacca Napoli for the best pizza in Bologna but that was closed for renovation. Trattoria Anna Maria was closed and they didn’t even put a sign up. The Cineteca gift shop (which I’m sure Morgan would’ve loved) was closed for God knows what.

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I wanted to take everyone up to San Luca (which was also very empty and the gift shop was closed for the season). It is probably one of the most famous sights of Bologna. It is a church sitting atop a hill overlooking the city. And there is a famous walk up to the church under the longest uninterrupted portico in the world, about 300 arches. It’s really gorgeous, but it is a hike of several kilometers uphill. Plus it’s in the southern part of the city, so the start of the hike is far from my apartment. We were originally thinking we’d leave mom behind and take dad but we switched that. Mom came and dad stayed behind. And mom struggled going up there while the Italians ran up and down past us without losing a breath. The Italians are in much better shape than we are. We walked up and down but used the bus going to the start of the hike. We tried to take a different bus going up to the very top, but the bus doesn’t run in the afternoon for some stupid reason. It was actually my first time taking the bus in Bologna. You buy a ticket in a tobacco shop and then validate it on board. I usually walk everywhere for exercise and not wanting to pay the fare. Since then, that is still the only time I’ve taken the bus (other than the airport shuttle which actually includes a bus fare, but it’s close enough that I just walk).

I took mom and Morgan to San Petronio, San Pietro and Sala Borsa library and the entrance to the Archiginnasio. We passed the Two Towers and walked around the porticoes. You’re just trying to get a feel for the town. We went shopping at OVS, which is like Italian cheap fashion, but not as good as Uniqlo.

For dinner, I was prepared to go back to Orsa or Rosso. I’ve found spots that I like and I just go back there. I’ve sort of stopped trying new restaurants. Instead, we tried the Sicilian seafood restaurant on my street. I’ve walked by it everyday and never gone inside. I admit, I never really noticed it. But the food was pretty good. They have authentic Sicilian cannoli.

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There is usually a canal down there through that window but it was all dried up

I brought everyone to Rosso for lunch. It was the first time I’d been for lunch and on the weekdays they do a 10 euro prix-fixe deal. You get primi and secondi, or either primi or secondi plus dessert. It includes coperto and water. It’s the best deal in town. I’ve known about it, but this was the first time I’d done it (and now I go literally all the time). It’s another one of my favorite spots in town. I would say my top 3 spots in Bologna are Osteria dell’Orsa, Trattoria del Rosso and the Cineteca di Bologna.

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