Monday, July 7th
As advertised on the strike website I have been checking, in the train stations Sunday evening, and on the news, both the trains and the buses were on strike (lo sciopero). In addition it was Monday, so many of the stores and most of the museums were closed.
That made it the perfect opportunity to walk up to Il Santuario della Madonna di San Luca (Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca).
A couple from Santa Barbara, who just spent a week in Bologna and had to hire a car to drive them to Ravenna because of the train strike (bummer for them) were sitting in the lobby when I inquired at the desk on information about how long it would take to walk up to San Luca. The woman at the desk said it was only about a 10 minute walk to the start of the 666 portico arches to the top. The couple from Santa Barbara said they thought it would be a much longer walk since bus they the rode from the hotel took 10 minutes to reach the start of the walk to the top.
The couple from Santa Barbara was correct. It took me 45 minutes to reach the start of the 666 porticos and then 40 more minutes to reach the top. Of course I stopped often to take photos along the way. This couple was also very helpful providing me information about where to catch a bus near the hotel. But, since the strike was on, taking the bus was out. The info they provided me did turn out to be very helpful for me later during my stay in Bologna.
On my walk to the start of the walk up to San Luca, I saw a tiny yellow car. I first thought it was a Smart Car but then realized it was even smaller than a Smart Car. It was an Italian Elektrocar. Just as I was about to take a photo of the car, the woman, who I assume was the owner of the car showed up. I asked her if I could take a photo. She seemed so pleased that I was interested in her car. After I took a photo, she showed me where the plug was and explained how she charged the car.
The walk to the top was pretty much all uphill. There were parts of the walk with stairs and parts which were just uphill. A few people passed me running either up or down. No cool breeze until I reached the top. Here’s a photo I took at the beginning of the hike.
Check out the blog post I did in September, 2008, for more photos of my hike under the 666 portico arches up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca.
The sanctuary was quite large. I spent some time inside and then sat on one of the park benches outside for a long time enjoying the views, the cool air, and the peacefulness of the area.
Here’s my post with photos of the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca and views from the top.
On the way back to my hotel, I stopped in a bar to use the bathroom. I also ordered a limonata lemon soda. My stomach was bothering me from all the wheat I have been eating. but I was hungry and there were not many choices and so I ordered a half of a tomato and cheese sandwich. It was pretty bland.
I took a different way back to my hotel just to see some new sights. I was beginning to feel more confident understanding the layout of Bologna and knowing my way around (with the help of my 3 maps).
I did some laundry and hung out in my room for a while. Later in the afternoon, I walked to the San Domenica church and then headed back to Piazza Maggiore to the tourist info center to get more info about the buses. The woman there was not very helpful. Her best advice was to go to the bus office to ask for information. She gave me directions that I did not understand and then made a big x in my map showing me where the office was located.
The bus woman was not any more helpful really. I knew that the 32 and 33 circolare (circular) buses went to the train station and stopped near my hotel. What I wanted to find out was where the stops were located. Bologna needs to come up with a better bus map. The current maps were impossible to read. Each bus line had a color and they all overlapped. Many of the bus stops were not on the map.
Next, I spent some time in some of the bookstores in the center of town – a children’s bookstore, Mel’s, and il Feltrinelli.
It was finally late enough to have dinner. I was pretty hungry since I had a small lunch. Colleenk from Slow Travel wrote a nice review about this Ristorante Teresina, I decided to give it a try.
Ristorante Teresina was located in the same area as the bookstores. I sat inside at a little table in the corner. Here’s the view of the tables across from me.
Two very nice waiters took my order and brought me my food.
A woman from Paris sat at the table next to me. She ordered a fish dish and a salad. We had a nice conversation while waiting for our meals to arrive.
I ordered melone (without the prosciutto) and then mezzelune ripiene di melanzane e formaggio caprino con pomodoro fresco e basilica. My melone (cantalope) was wonderful. The mezzeluna pasta filled with eggplant and a type of cheese that I think came from sheep was incredibile! It was the best meal I had had so far since being in Italy. The photo does not do it justice.
I declined dessert as I wanted to keep the taste of the mezzeluna pasta in my mouth for as long as possible. After I paid my bill, I told one of the waiters that my meal was so good that I wanted to return the following night an made a reservation.
I was pretty tired after my long walk and headed back to my hotel after dinner.
I definitely recommend both the walk to San Luca. You may want to take the bus to the start of the walk. I also recommend a meal at Ristorante Teresina.