We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy
CHAPTER SIX: AN UNUSUAL DAY IN BOLOGNA
NEXT: DAY SIX: – Slab Me, Pass the Junior Mints, Apollo 1, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Revisiting Pete, Frescoes Off Limits, Wherefore Art Thou, Don’t Ever Change, Leave The Gun … See The Canale, Down For The Count, Mary & Kim Take A Walk, Comeback Kid, Endless Basilicas,The Fun Drunk Kids and Hush Hush More Charlotte
The crew got a little later start than usual on Friday morning. I was not feeling 100%, because I had a pain in my gut that felt like a pulled muscle. It also felt like the diverticulitis I had suffered from earlier in the year. In any case, we had places to see, so we walked toward the Piazza Maggiore.
Once again, we found ourselves at the Piazza Nettuno and were greeted by the Fontana del Nettuno, called “il Gigante” by some. Created by Flemish sculptor Jean de Boulogne (aka Giambologna), the fountain became a revered spot … so much so, that if women and children were found bathing in it, they would receive 50 lashes. The punishment for men … “a torturous and crippling procedure involving tying the arms behind the back and cranking up on them to the point of dislocation.” No one made a clean getaway from here. It’s also an X-rated fountain. Many thought Neptune was too sexy. In fact, when Giambologna wanted to make Neptune’s genitals larger, the church stepped in to prevent him from doing so. And yes, those women at the base of the God of the Sea are sea nymphs squeezing water out of their breasts. It seems, you didn’t even need the Playboy Channel in the 16th century.
We walked through Piazza Maggiore and traded sea nymphs for cadavers … well, a place where cadavers used to hang out … the Teatro Anatomico. The Teatro Anatomico is part of the Archiginnasio di Bologna, which also houses the Biblioteca dell’Archiginnasio. The building, completed in 1563, is part of the University of Bologna.
To get to the Teatro Anatomical from The Courtyard …
… we took one of the two Grand Staircases.
There are plenty of Coats of Arms in the Archiginnasio, denoting power and authority. Counting all the different halls, walls and ceilings, there are about six to seven thousand of them adorning the building. I did not count to check for the accuracy of that statement.
On the walls are numerous plaques … many dedicated to doctors.
The arcades are beautifully ornamented.
The Leone di San Marco is a mane attraction.
As I felt the stab of pain in my gut, we appropriately entered the Teatro Anatomico, complete with a white slab situated strategically in the middle of a room with wooden benches.
There were a couple of carved wooden, skinless guys on the wall called The Spellati. They looked like they needed a meal … or at least some skin.
Directly above the slab, where I felt I could be placed and dissected at any moment, Apollo looked down at us.
When I saw the The Statue of Hippocrates (in the center), I made an oath I would use that photo.
This building was damaged during World War II, but it remarkably looks similar (so they say) to the days when it was utilized for the dissections of humans and even animals. To make it more romantic, the dissections were done under candlelight. “Honey, would you like to see someone dissect a squirrel tonight?” Tracy wondered if anyone viewing those dissections accidentally dropped a Junior Mint on (or in) the body in a Seinfeldian faux pas.
Travels With Mai Tai Tom Fun Fact: The first recorded case of body snatching is attributed to four medical students from Bologna in 1319 (before this was built).
Sadly, the bibliotheca was closed to the public on this day, so we couldn’t check it out. I wanted to throw the book at them, but as was bound to happen, we left, and I hoped the pain wasn’t my appendix.
The Archiginnasio di Bologna is situated on the Piazza Galvani, so named for the guy whose statue stands there, Luigi Galvani. A renowned Italian physician, physicist, biologist and philosopher, among other things, Galvani discovered “animal electricity.” The marble statue shows him holding a tray that contains a dead frog. In a Frankenstein moment, Galvani discovered that a “spark of electricity attached to the muscle of a dead frog made it jerk back to life.” (Thanks to Myra Robinson of Italy Magazine for that fun fact.)
From dead frogs we walked to a different part of town via the church I had briefly visited on my own the prior afternoon. We stopped into Cattedrale Matropolitana di San Pietro, which is the Cathedral of Bologna.
We stopped for a quick bite to eat, and it seemed someone got a quicker start than others downing his food. The look on the man behind the counter seems to be saying, “Dude, aren’t you going to pay before you eat?” Hey, I was hungry!
Our goal was to visit an art gallery, but wouldn’t you know it we ran into another church along the way. I actually had read about The Church of San Giacomo Maggiore before leaving, and it was said to contain beautiful frescoes and paintings. What I didn’t read was that interior photos were not allowed, except, I guess, by Bed and Breakfast Bologna. Thanks guys.
Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna was supposed to be our next stop, but a funny thing happened at the gallery. We stepped up to the front desk and asked for four tickets. Pulling out our credit cards, the not-the-sharpest-tool in the shed woman told us the credit card machine was not working. So we decided to pay cash. We handed her the money for four tickets, but she informed us she was unable to make change, which when you think about is impossible unless we were the first customers of the day at a little past noon. This is a major museum? Well, we didn’t have exact change (just a bunch of €20 bills), and, in the end, the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna lost €24 of business.
Instead we headed for lunch, passing a small opening on Via Piella where we caught this glimpse of one of Bologna’s canals.
Not too far away Trattoria Montanara (Via Augusto Righi, 15/A) welcomed us for lunch. This was a charming little place with very good food, which I know is a redundant statement when it comes to food in Bologna. It’s here where I made a slight error. Not knowing if I really had diverticulitis, I unwittingly (and stupidly) ordered a pasta in a spicy onion sauce. It was delicious, but probably not the wisest of choices.
Kim and Mary enjoyed their quiche and salad, while Tracy really liked her pasta y fagioli. By now I was not feeling too swift.
We did check out the canal from another street (no, not the one through the window), and headed back to the apartment. I actually laid down while the crew went looking for drugs (legal ones). When they returned, I was napping for the first time since the Eisenhower administration. Tracy stayed at the apartment with her old husband, while Kim and Mary went by foot on a little excursion.
First, they headed to Le Due Torri … the two towers Garisenda and Asinelli. The big boy of the towers (Asinelli) stands 300 feet high with 498 steps to the top. It is also a larger leaning tower than the one we climbed in Pisa back in 2005. Kim got this photo of the “smaller” one, Garisenda
The Statue of Saint Petronius stands near the towers.
Nearby stood the Chiesa dei Santi Bartolomeo e Gaetano, which housed a group of nuns in the 13th century and was demolished in the 1516. It was rebuilt at the end of the century.
Kim and Mary said it was a beautiful church, and his pictures reflect that.
We had dinner reservations that evening at Al Sangiovese, which coincidentally would have been our son’s first and middle names had Tracy and I decided to have a child. Once Kim and Mary returned, by some miracle I was completely fine. Maybe all these churches were paying off after all. Either that or a nap.
We headed off early because we had another basilica to visit before dinner. Bologna was already bustling on a Friday evening.
Basilica di San Domenico, dedicated not surprisingly to Domenico, was built in the 1200s and restored in the 18th century.
The Capella San Domenico contains The Arca di San Domenico (Ark of Saint Dominic), a monument that houses the remains of the saint, which took sculptors nearly 500 years to complete.
The statues of Saint Petronio, Saint Procolo and the angel were created by Michelangelo after the death of the original sculptor Nicola Pisano.
The dome of the chapel contains The Glory of St. Dominic by Guido Reni.
Mozart hung out in Bologna for a month once and was known to play the organ. No word whether he also played The Magic Flute. This is not Mozart.
Even after all the basilicas we’d seen, this one really stood out.
Back outside we walked by one of Bologna’s “tombs of the glossators.” Glossators were “scholars of the 11th and 12th century legal schools.” This large sepulchral ark holds the remains of Rolandino de ‘Passaggeri, a 13th-century Italian jurist.
On the way to dinner, we became certified Italians stopping off for an aperitivo at a neighborhood drinking hole, where we had cocktails and snacks. A group of rather drunk college students were singing loudly outside and having a blast. We chatted with them upon leaving (of course, they spoke perfect English), and they were a good group of inebriated kids.
Al Sangiovese proved to be another excellent dining choice. Its rustic interior brought even more warmth to the space. Our hostess had a good sense of humor as she explained some of the dishes to us.
Tracy ordered Strozzapreti of the “Passatore” (with porcini-peas-ham in a cream sauce). Magnificent, but a large portion, as were many of the dishes.
Now fully healed from who knows what, it was “Wow” time for me with an incredible Tortelloni with ricotta butter and parmesan first course. I finished (well, not quite yet), with a tagliata di petto di pollo in a lemon/grain sauce. My meal was perfect, and I thanked my stomach for coming back to life in time for another meal.
All of our dishes were cooked to perfection.
and I knew I was all the way back when I ordered the torta Charlotte di mele alle (apple cake … Charlotte Style). Somehow my stomach was still growling, and I softly said, “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte.” By the way, Tracy is attempting to perfect this recipe at home, and I am a willing participant when it comes to the tasting guy.
All that food and vino cost us a mere €65 per couple. Kim was a happy camper as he exited.
Even with my mysterious “illness,” I packed a lot into a fairly full day, but not as much as tomorrow.
We quickly walked back to the apartment, because we needed some shut-eye to get ready for the following day. We’d take an early train ride to Padova, where we would see perhaps the most spectacular frescoes on earth. We would walk the streets of Padova until we could walk no more.
Our dinner would become one of the most unusual and fun dining experiences of the trip. Unfortunately, Tracy would not be a part of it.
Next: DAY SEVEN – This Station’s Not So Dificult, Stabilizing The Microclimate, Giotto Cycle, Get Off Your High Horse, Churches And More Churches, Astronomical, Did It Really Say No Photos?, The Sculptor’s House, Chill Out, Down For The Count (Part Due), Dinner At The Drug Store and Dining With A Unique Owner