Skip to main content

My Bologna Post

From the article written by Joan Scobey, a freelance travel writer.

"Bologna the Learned honors its university, founded in 1088 and the oldest in the world. Its reknowned faculties bring 90,000 students to a city of less than 400,000 people, one reason why the municipal calendar is filled with concerts, opera, ballet and theater, why there seems to be a bookstore on every block, and why you hear street musicians play in the arcades.

Ah, the arcades.

Bologna the Red is a nod, not to its left-leaning politics, but to its ruddy arcades, 23 miles of them, lining the streets of central Bologna. They flank wide boulevards, narrow alleys, plazas and squares. Some have tall, Gothic arches, others are Romanesque and a few are simple wooden medieval beams. Their origins go back nine centuries, when medieval buildings were first cantilevered over the street to gain extra room for students at the new university.

First-time visitors should head to the main square, Piazza Maggiore, the heart of the city. Everyone else does. Here the Bolognesi congregate at all times and for all reasons. They gather for political demonstrations and for concerts at the Palazzo Communale, the Town Hall. They worship at the Basilica of San Petronio, and stop for gelati and espresso at a cafe. Rain or shine, elegant yuppies stroll along the arcades, pushing baby carriages. Scruffy students with backpacks hang out at the Neptune Fountain, an oversize Baroque statue of the sea god atop dolphin-carrying putti and water maidens.

Grand buildings of earlier times surround this open plaza - 13th century palaces with crenelated roofs, a 14th century church and Renaissance council offices. They are all so carefully restored that the Piazza Maggiore looks like a medieval set where you could stage "Everyman" without adding a prop.

The enormous Basilica of San Petronio, with its curiously half-finished facade, dominates one side. Started in 1390, funds were diverted to a new university before the pink and white marble sheathing was completed. Inside, a long strip of brass set into the floor at a particular angle marks the spring equinox when a ray of sunlight hits it through a hole in the roof.

Alongside the basilica is one of the city's historic treasures, the Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio, an original university building and now the city library. Largely destroyed in a World War II bombing, it was reconstructed with all its opulent heraldic decorations and famous wood-paneled Anatomical Theatre. This small arena around a dissection table has an elaborate professor's rostrum supported by two wooden male figures stripped down to their musculature.

Bologna's cardinals used to live in the Palazzo Communale, on another side of the square. They rode upstairs to their extravagant apartments in horse-drawn carriages that mounted two long flights of wide, shallow, ramp-like steps, known as the "staircase of the horses." Two museums now occupy the state apartments - one displays the municipal art collection, the other paintings by Bologna's favorite artist son, Giorgio Morandi - with spectacular views over the Piazza Maggiore.

Behind the arcades opposite the Palazzo Communale is where the marketplace of ancient Roman times stood. It is still where greengrocers, cheese merchants, butchers and bakers set up shop next to artisans and cafes. Its narrow streets identify the ancient shopkeepers - via Caprarie, literally "goatherds," for butcher shops, via Drapperie for fabric dealers - and even today there are jewelers on via Orefici and fishmongers on via Pescherie Vecchie. Wedges of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and bags of tortellini and tortelloni fill shop windows, Parma hams hang above different kinds of sausages, and platters of prepared Bolognese specialties crowd the counters. An outdoor cafe there is a fine place for lunch.

The square stone medieval tower that rises over the Piazza Maggiore is one of 20 that remain of perhaps 100. The best known of them is a pair of 12th century leaning towers nearby that have become the symbol of the city. One is more than 300 feet high, and more than 3 feet off plumb; the other, half its height, tilts much more precipitously. They have been that way for about 800 years.

"The medieval nobles built towers just for pure swank, to see who should have the tallest," wrote DH Lawrence, "till a town like Bologna must have bristled like a porcupine in a rage."

Actually, DH Lawrence was half right. The towers did give social status to their owners, but they were built for defense and not living quarters.

Bologna, the strategically situated capital of the fertile agricultural province of Emilia-Romagna, was an attractive prize for predators since Etruscan and Roman times, when a small colony settled around what is now the Piazza Maggiore. It was successively occupied by the Huns, Goths and Lombards, and became a free commune in the 12th century. In the major political struggle of the Middle Ages, it was a stronghold for the Guelphs, who favored local independence, against the Ghibellines, who supported the Holy Roman Emperor. After fierce political rivalry among the city's noble families, Bologna eventually came under three centuries of papal rule in 1506, and 250 years later joined the Kingdom of Italy.

The marvel is that after centuries of wars and internal fighting, the city still has so much of its historic character. Gothic and Romanesque churches, Renaissance palazzos, Baroque fountains, medieval towers and, yes, those enchanting arcades".

Popular posts from this blog

The Ibanag Family in Retrospect

The Ibanags just like most Filipino groupings are matriarchal. When my mother was younger she wielded a power over me that forced my tongue in check whenever she gave me a scolding or admonition for a real or imagined “wrongdoing”.

No one ever talks back. Let alone me. I can not recall if there ever was an instance when I mastered enough courage to explain anything even when there was a chance to do so. But it sure did happen one day when I was already 26 years old and had 2 children. Swell. :-)

The elderly are treated with respect in the Ibanag culture. Deference is essential if not required and is lavishly displayed and shown. Proper language and the right tone of voice characterize conversations with the elders. It is not uncommon to take the elder’s hand, bring it to the forehead or kiss the hand to show courtesy and respect.

Women are venerated in the Ibanag family. Most of the time they have the last say in decisions involving family affairs. Although Filipinas are kn…

Ibanag and Filipino Childbirth Rituals

"For parents, birth rituals and ceremonies provide an immediate sense of connection as well as inclusion of the child into the clan, tribe or community. These rituals establish at a very early stage, who they are. The rituals also serve as guideposts as they grow and develop their own sense of identity. Even if they drift away from or reject their heritage, their early experiences give them a place to return to if they so choose".

The Ibanag culture is filled with childbearing rituals and practices which have been handed down from one generation to another. Here are some of them.

1. It is said that if a pregnant woman has a lot of blemishes or pimples on her face, her baby will be a girl.
2. If the mother glows and radiates beauty, the baby will be a boy.
3. If the mother craves for sweets and other carbohydrates, the baby will be a girl.
4. If the mother is craving for oily or fried foods, the baby will be a boy.
5. The mother should not eat 'balut' (a native duck egg d…

Learn the Ibanag dialect?

As I mentioned in one of my prior posts somewhere in one of my blogs, the Ibanag dialect is somewhat difficult to learn because when you speak it you can sound like a chirping bird :-)

I learned the dialect by just hearing it from my Mother who use it everytime her relatives come to our home to visit. And this was not that often. You see, her relatives from Isabela, that's where she was born, come to spend their vacation with us every summer, yes the whole summer months. And yes, EVERY summer of EVERY year. Well, they don't come empty handed. They bring sacks of rice, ample stocks of meat enough to feed all of us for 1 month. They bring live animals too, like chicken, piglets, not to mention baskets of fruits and vegetables, even our neighbors get their share.

Wherever Ibanags are, you know they are around because they are so loud and so noisy. They have this habit of speaking all at the same time :-)Sigh. Now if that is not enough reason for anyone to learn the dialect, I …