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. I decided that it would be the perfect opportunitiy 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 since there was a train strike – bummer for them) were sitting in the lobby when I inquired at the desk on information regarding 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 it took the bus they were on from the hotel 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.
The couple from Santa Barbara was also very helpful providing me information about where to catch a bus near the hotel. Unfortunately because of the strike, taking the bus was out, but it was 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 electric car. 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 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. Not until I reached the top could I feel a cool breeze. The church 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.
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 and basically told me 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 were the circolare (circular buses) that went to the train station and stopped near my hotel. What I wanted to find out was where the stops were located. The bus map was impossible to read since each line had a color and they all overlapped. Many of the bus stops were not on the map. My plan was to take the bus the following morning to the train station.
After my quest to find out info about the bus, 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. Since I did not eat much for lunch, I was pretty hungry. One of the recommendations for restaurants in Bologna was Ristorante Teresina. It was located in the same area as the bookstores. I sat inside at a little table in the corner. There were 2 very nice waiters that waited on me. A woman from Paris. I ordered melone (without the prosciutto) and then mezzelune ripiene di melanzane e formaggio caprino con pomodoro fresco e basilica. She ordered a fish dish and a salad. We had a nice conversation while waiting for our meals to arrive.
My melon (cantalope) was wonderful and 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. 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 would recommend both a walk to San Luca (although taking the bus to the start of the walk would be a good idea unless you would be up for a very long walk – I think it would be just as long of a walk if you were staying right in the historical center area) and a meal at Ristorante Teresina.