Alina and I spent the day in Bologna, Italy today.  Quite a unique experience.  A bold mix of old and new:  Graffiti covered walls and beautiful architecture.

Wandering around the old town, we found many treasures not listed in any tourist guide.  You can see that the town is but a shadow of it’s former self.  I spent hours looking around and trying to imagine what everything must have looked like NEW.  Grand building designs and opulent decorations everywhere.  It must have been quite impressive!  What a shame that today it’s all falling apart.  No money to restore or preserve it, I guess.

Starting from the Hotel Atlantic, we headed South towards the “Piazza Maggiore”.  To there we had to pass through the smaller “Piazza Del Neptuno”, where we stopped to look at the famous fountain.  I had read in a guidebook that the statue of Neptune has the “greatest butt in Italy”.  I wouldn’t know, but judging by the look of the women in the square, they’re probably right.

On the far side of the square is the “Basilica Di San Petronio.”  An absolutely amazing church!  You MUST see this if in Bologna.  Sadly, you’re not allowed to take photos there.  I was nearly crying.  The amazing stained glass, beautiful statues, twin pipe organs and the ornate wooden pulpit…all begging to be photographed.  I bet you could spend YEARS in there, and not run out of subjects for the camera.

One of the marvels of the Basilica is the Meridian Line marked into the floor.  In the roof of the Basilica there’s a corresponding glass in the roof that allows the sun to traverse this line.  Each Solstice and sign of the Zodiac were indicated on the floor with a stone.  This design was carried out by the Italian astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini in 1655.  You can read more about it and see pictures of the Basilica HERE.

After wandering around a small shopping district next to the square, we headed off in search of a pair of medieval towers.  These are the most famous landmark of the city and are called “The Two Towers.”  They date from the early 1100’s and both are leaning a bit.  Surprisingly, the shorter one is at a greater angle and I refused to walk near it.  It really looks like it might fall any day!

We found a small restaurant and ducked inside for a quick lunch.  The place was packed and wan’t a single tourist in sight.  Always a sign of good food!  We ordered some delicious panini.  YUM.  And lots of water to re-hydrate.  By the end of the meal we were both starting to close our eyes.  Time for COFFEE.

Alina had done her homework.  She had looked for a good coffee place online, and found the “Cafe Terzi”.  It doesn’t look like much.  Very long and narrow, with a small street front.  I nearly passed on it when I saw how crowded it was.  But we found the tables in the rear section of the place completely empty.  We sat ourselves down and were quickly asked if we were eating, or just there for coffee?  When we said “coffee”, the waiter brought us a menu different from the lunch menu found on the table.  My mouth fell open as I read through the menu.  About a dozen *pages* of coffee to choose from.  We were definitely in the right place!!!

They’ve got many famous coffees (including Kopi Luwak) that I’ve heard of and many that I had not.  The waiter (actually a barista that delivers it to your table) may not have been the most friendly person, but he did help us choose by taking the time to fully explain each of the types of blends they serve.  I ended up with a very tasty Guatemalan medium roast espresso.  YUM!

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If in Bologna, I highly recommend this cafe!  You can find their website HERE.

After coffee we were pretty beat.  We did some window shopping on the way back to the hotel.  Didn’t buy anything, but the prices weren’t nearly as high as we expected.  All in all, Bologna was pretty reasonably priced.  Hotel, food and drinks were good values.

Late in the afternoon we hopped on a train to San Giovanni Valdarno.

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