a tour, a protest, and an eye-opening movie (2009 TRIP)

Monday, July 6th:
I am really happy with my hotel in Bologna, Hotel Orologio.

You can’t beat the great price I managed to get for being steps away from Piazza Maggiore. My room is spacious and comfortable. The people who work at Hotel Orologio are very helpful. They offer a big breakfast selection, just not many of the foods I prefer to eat in the morning. The one thing that did stand out however was the blood orange, orange juice. Wow!!  Sooo delicious!! I do miss the breakfasts & the coffee though at Hotel Porta San Mamalo as well as the people who work there.

I am always hesitant taking tours as I’m not a fan of being on a tour in a large group. The latest thing I have seen is giving everyone little iPod like devices while the tour guide speaks into a microphone that is hooked up to the little iPod like devices.  I saw one huge tour group while I was in Bologna where the tour guide was giving some facts about a building and much of the huge tour group was still half a block away! But Sandra told me about a tour of Bologna offered at the tourist info point.  Cost is only €13 and the groups are usually small.

I decided to take the tour at the beginning of my stay so that I could investigate new places I learned about more in depth later on.  Two other people besides myself signed up for the tour Monday morning. The tour started at 11 am and ended at 1 pm.  Simona was our tour guide. I had hoped for Emilia, who Sandra raved about but the tourist info point did not know the schedule of the tour guides and since I could not be sure when or if Emilia was conducting any tours the week I was in Bologna I took my chances Monday morning.

Although Simona was very informative, she seemed to be in a rush and did not seem to welcome questions. I also found it odd that she did not ask us where we were from, if this was our first time or even first day in Bologna, etc., especially since there were only three of us.  She even ended the tour ten minutes early and rushed off somewhere

Despite the rushed presentation, I am very glad I took this tour.  I learned many new things about Bologna.

After the tour ended, I went to see one of the oldest porticoes the tour guide told us about. I ended up getting lost. I wandered around for a while, finally finding it.

By this time I was hungry. I remembered the wonderful piadina like sandwich (more like a wrap but not rolled) that I had last year at Caffè Zamboni.  Caffè Zamboni is located near the two towers heading towards the university area. When I arrived I saw the same thing I ate last year in their see through display along with a few other varieties of panini. I think it was called stracchino e rucola. The tables were all full so I ordered mine porta la via (to go).

As I sat on a bench by the towers and peacefully ate my sandwich, a group with a big sign, drums, and a guy with a microphone marched by. They were obviously protesting something. As they turned the corner, they stopped. They started protesting more loudly and a crowd gathered. My curiosity got the better of me, so I got up and walked over to the crowd while continuing to eat my sandwich.

As I turned the corner, I saw a group of police standing in a line dressed in riot gear.  I could hear my mother telling me that I should get far away from this protest right away but at the same time, this was far too interesting an event to leave. I made sure that I was standing in a spot where I could easily escape, put my sandwich back in the bag, and grabbed my camera.

After taking a few photos, I moved back towards the towers. The protest lasted about 30 minutes. You could really see how the protest was blocking all the traffic when standing near the towers. Buses were stopped and taxi drivers and cars were all stuck in grid lock.

I asked a girl who was also watching if she knew what the protest was about. As she began to tell me what she thought it was about, this guy sitting nearby butted in and started speaking rapidly in Italian telling the girl his opinion of what the protest was about.

I picked up about 50% of what he was saying. From what I gathered it was about some law that was just passed, also it was about the upcoming G8, and for good measure, he added that Berlusconi was crazy.  I told him how sorry I was that Berlusconi was still in power and mentioned how lucky we are that Bush is gone and we have Obama now. He smiled and congratulated me. He then asked where I was from which led to another whole conversation.

At one point he asked me if I needed a room as he had rooms for rent. That was my cue to leave.  I later found out when watching the news and reading the paper the following day that a similar protest (same signs) took place in many of the major cities in Italy and from what I understand only the protest in Torino resulted in a few arrests.

That afternoon, I spent one hour searching for a gelateria called Funivia, which was recommended by our tour guide.  I thought she said it was in or near Piazza Cavour.  I never found it but I did visit the beautiful church of San Domenico.

I also went back to take photos of the Archiginnasio of Bologna (part of the tour) and one of the most important buildings in Bologna. Instead of trying to explain the importance of this beautiful building, check out the wikipedia post on the Archiginnasio.

I still had gelato on the brain. I returned to Grom and decided to go out on a limb and try some new flavors, lampone and pesca (raspberry and peach). The raspberry was fabulous. The peach was good but did not compare with the peach I had in Montelupo one summer.

Italy Trip 2009, Bologna, Italy

Monday evening, I met a different Simona, a friend of Katia’s I have met a few times in Coccaglio and Rovato for dinner.  Simona even joined us for a bike ride once around the little island on Lake Iseo.  Simona is living in Bologna for the summer for her work.  She also brought along two friends.  All three have only been in Bologna for about a month.

We met at Neptune’s fountain in Piazza Maggiore and decided to go out for a pizza.  They did not have any pizzeria in mind.  I told them that my tour guide recommended a place nearby. Of course I had no clue exactly where it was located. We finally found it after walking around for about 20 minutes.  The restaurant pizzeria is called Scalinatella.  The owner was very nice. We all had a wonderful time.

We ordered pizzas and then desserts.  I thought that the food was very good. One Simona’s friends is from Naples. He seemed to enjoy his pizza but did say that it was nothing like the pizza in Naples.  The desserts were all Southern Italian desserts. I can’t remember the exact name of mine but it was delicious.

After dinner, Simona and her friends headed home.  I walked back to Piazza Maggiore and a movie was playing. Both Bologna and Lucca have movie events with chairs set up for the duration of the nightly movie events. The only difference is that the movies in Bologna are free.

Italy Trip 2009, Bologna, Italy

I arrived about 10 or 15 minutes after the movie, Food, Inc. started.  The piazza was packed. Not only were all the chairs filled, but people were sitting on the ground, on the stairs of the church, and standing all around.  The movie was in English with Italian subtitles. In my opinion, every person in the US should see this movie and be aware of what has happened and is happening to our food.

I sat there wondering just what all of the Italians were thinking as the movie played. The piazza was so quiet you could hear a pin drop throughout the movie.  While watching the movie, I was grateful that for at least the next few weeks, I would most likely be eating fresh, safe food. At least Hawaii finally has a Whole Foods as well as a few other health food stores where the food more likely will come from safer sources.  I can’t say the same though for restaurant food.

Thanks again for all of your comments!

Next up – Tuesday ~ trip to Ravenna


7 thoughts on “a tour, a protest, and an eye-opening movie (2009 TRIP)

  1. Another busy day in beautiful Bologna!
    I feel like I am right there with you – I am really enjoying your reports!


  2. Girasoli, I’m glad you enjoyed your walking tour of Bologna, although your guide sounds less than ideal. Still, if she gave you some new ideas, that is great!
    I had a wonderful lunch at Cafe Zamboni — thank you for suggesting it! I thought their piadinas were great and prices very good. I did have some fine food(and gelato) in Bologna. But I don’t think I met as many interesting people as you have met!
    The film Food Inc., sounds interesting and disturbing. I’ve been trying (loosely) to follow a 100-mile diet — getting as much of my food as possible from within 100 miles of where I live. It’s proving incredibly difficult.


  3. Girasoli,
    Thanks for taking me along with you to Bologna, it is definitely on my list of places to visit in Italy.
    The movie does sound very disturbing, I saw the director(?) on interview on the Daily Show,it sure makes it hard to enjoy a meal.


  4. Hi Girasoli, you’re really getting a lot of different experiences on this trip. I once ran into a protest in Venice. Lot’s of music, banners and a couple of speeches on bullhorns. Very interesting experience.
    Reading your posts makes me miss the fabulous food in Italy so much.
    And by the way thank you so much and Kudos for blogging from your i-Touch. I know how incredibily difficult that is to do. I really appreciate you taking the time from your vacation to post these wonderful blog entries. Makes me really miss Italy a lot.
    Keep on having fun!


  5. So interesting that they were showing that film in Italy. It was based on The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book I read a couple of years ago which really changed my eating (and food buying) habits completely.


  6. Mahalo for taking the time out of a seemingly glorious food-rich culturally wonderful trip – can’t wait to see your photos. When you wrote about the Naples friend and pizza – my first thought was the same as his – nothing can compare to Naples pizza:-) Have a wonderful rest of your trip. menehune


  7. I am really enjoying reading about your travels!
    I’m surprised that the documentary was shown with subtitles. I’ve been told that Italians like to watch foreign movies and TV shows dubbed in Italian.
    It’s showing in a local theater now and I’ll be watching it sometime this week.


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