How Many Saints Again?

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August 31st 2015
Published: September 29th 2015
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Hello my fellow travellers!

This morning, after a brief sleep at my friend Marcus in Malmö, I took an early flight to a sunny and warm Bologna. The flight went smoothly but the buses kind of caused a bit of an issue today. First was the airport bus from Bologna Airport to Bologna Train Station, the first ticket machine didn't work with VISA card and the bus couldn't accept it straight on the bus. Fortunately for me there was a few more machines located inside the terminal building and one of them worked with VISA.

Once I had gotten to the train station I ran into the same problem, neither the ticket machine nor any shops accepted VISA so I had to track down an ATM and withdraw cash but then only even change was accepted so I had to find a place to split the cash into smaller values and eventually I ended up buying a day ticket for 5 EUR rather than a 60 minute ticket for 1.30 EUR which is what I really needed. Not the smoothest of starts so to say but that's not all, once I came to my host Giorgio he had been called away to the office so I had to wait for him.

While waiting I tried my luck at visiting the nearby Basilica of Saint Francis but it was closed but I could still get a good look at the magnificent Glossators Tombs outside. They are three 13th century tombs of some of the city's most noted glossators, Rolandus, Odofredus and Accursius. Instead of walking on I sat down in a restaurant, ordered some pasta and read a book while waiting for Giorgio to return.

He returned as promised and I could finally put down my pack, we chatted for a while and I filled up with some water and a toilet visit and then I went off to explore Bologna! Me and Giorgio agreed to meet up later in the evening though to spend some time together. Luckily this is a quite compact city and everything of interest is quite close to each other. I started by visiting the Church of Saint Salvatore which is quite interesting since it has multiple façades and fake windows, both the exterior and the interior are nice and it's worth a visit. After that I went to the Palace of Accursius which is by the Greater Square, Here you'll also find the Neptune Fountain, the Governor's Palace and the Basilica of Saint Petronius.

The Basilica of Saint Petronius was under close guard by armed policemen due to the threat of terrorism and the square was filled with other armed police and military personnel. The interior of the church is splendid and entrance is free, but if you want to photograph it will cost you 2 EUR, I happily paid that. There is also one of the side altars which will swing you an additional 3 EUR to visit, I didn't go for that once because photographing in there was not allowed and I could actually see it from the outside anyway. There is also a small museum here and the entrance to it is free.

Next I set my sight on the impressive Two Towers but the view was a bit spoiled by a massive construction going on in front of it, I switched over to the Palace of the Merchants which is not open because the ministry of agriculture is in there. After that I made my way down to the Basilica of Saint Stephan where I met some very nice tourists and we helped each other out with some photographs, lovely moment! After that I passed the Church of Saint John in the Mountains on my way to the Basilica of Saint Dominic. The Basilica of Saint Dominic was in my opinion the nicest one of them all, but that is hardly surprising seeing how Saint Dominic himself is buried inside. He was the one who founded the Dominican Order in 1217 after an approval by pope Honorius III. I must admit though that by now all the names of the saints was starting to melt together for me, there's just so many saints to keep track of!

After this part of the city was visited I doubled back over to the other side again and continued down past the Two Towers to the Church of Saint James the Great which is also quite amazing with a plethora of side chapels! There is so much going on here it boggles the mind! I wanted to carry on down towards the university also but the time of my meeting with Giorgio was getting closer. Upon returning to him I passed the Two Towers again of course and this time I noticed people on the other side of the construction site and I was: "Oh, can I go over there to? Let's do that." So I went over and discovered that I could climb the tower and that it was soon closing.

I checked my clock and figured I can make it to the top and back again before I meet Giorgo, turns out I couldn't! I sent him a text halfway up and told him I'd be late! Let me tell you that it is freaking tough to climb up that thing, when you think you've reached the top a whole other section opens up in front of you. After that another section, and then another section and so on and so on, it just keeps going!

Anyway, I finally made it up, more dead than alive and the view is certainly worth the pain and suffering you go through on the way up. Only drawback is the damned bars across the windows, but I understand why they are there, I guess this would be a popular suicide place otherwise because it is a long way down. Well, once I had my feet back down on firm ground (the safer way) I returned to Giorgio where I took a quick shower (I certainly needed it) before we headed out for a bite to eat and some cold beer.

He took me to a nice food court with a plethora of options to choose from, I settled on venison with salad which tasted marvellously despite being served in a paper box! The beer was also refreshing but Giorgio tried some new kind of beer which was quite heavy and didn't fall well on his pallet. The grilled pork he ordered tasted far better though and I was lucky enough that he shared some with me, yummy!

On the way when passed by the Palace of Accursius we noticed something that almost looked like blood coming out of the wall of the palace, when we investigated it by talking to the staff it turned out it was just water from the cooling system. But apparently we weren't the only ones intrigued by it, the staff told us that many had asked him the same thing! I can understand that though because it certainly didn't look like water, it was much to thick and sticky for that! Hmm, maybe there was something going on, conspiracy!

With our bellies full he took me on a short guided tour of the city, most of the stuff I had already seen but he told me some history and stories about it all which gave me a deeper appreciation for it and he showed me a nice little hidden gem, a chapel belonging to the Knights of Malta, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit and it is truly a thing of beauty, it is not open to the public but the façade is gorgeous enough to warrant a visit.

When we passed the construction site Giorgio told me that often people stop and watch the construction workers at labour and I said that I actually noticed that earlier today. He asked me if it was older men that watched and I said that it indeed was. He told me that old men often stop and stare at the workers for long times and we both laughed about it! I actually even took a picture of the old men standing there watching the workers because I thought it looked so funny! It was funny t hear that it's apparently a thing here. Giorgio told me he even thinks the old men might be paid by the government to stand there and watch, I don't know, perhaps for 'motivational purposes' for the workers.

Tomorrow I will keep exploring Bologna in the early day, checking out the Church of Saint Mary of Life which was closed today, Giorgio says there is a true masterpiece of terracotta sculpture there and I look forward to seeing it. He also gave me the tip to visit the Museum of the Story of Bologna that is located in the Pepoli Palace so I will go and take a look at that as well. I will of course also visit the University since it's the oldest in the world!

Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!

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