Italian Churches ~ The Power of Light and Dark

No matter your religion or beliefs, Jesus suffered that day. The Catholic Church will never let us forget it. When you walk into their relics of religion, the pain of his final day is prominent. Some people even wear the cross as a reminder of mortality and human sin. I remember Bill Hicks, the famously irreverent comedian, said that if Jesus ever comes back, the cross is the last thing he’d want to see. Nevertheless, churches are magnificent structures and smell nice inside. Italy has a church in every city, a city on every hill and thousands of hills in every region. I should have taken more pictures to give a fuller representation, but here are a few of my favorites.

Below, in Siena, is one of the most beautiful facades I’ve ever seen. Click the pictures to view extreme close-ups. Some of them actually require more inspection to get the full effect.

 

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Here is a beautiful golden mosaic in Trieste.

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A Weekend in Bologna ~ Faces in Phones, Jesus and Leaning Towers

As I was walking off the copious amounts of food from Bolognese cuisine, I did plenty of people watching. The city seems to be made of brick. There are covered promenades, some with frescoes. Cheeses and cured meats are offered in tiny storefronts. It was the home of Europe’s first university in the 11th century, with alumni like Dante Alighieri and Copernicus. Of course, now, technology played a major part of life. People with cell phones use them, often. But, there are also plenty of conversations with gesticulating hands, hair tossing teenagers chatting beside beautiful statues and street performers entertaining with musical talent, ability to stand still or silly costumes.

Here, we have the cell phone group.

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Then, we have the Jesus group.

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Next, we see people caught alone, among the crowds.

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Lastly, the famous towers of Bologna, you can see how the one is leaning, but Pisa gets all the credit. Bologna is thought to have had over 150 towers during its peak in the medieval ages.

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Venice ~ Some Tasty Treats & Savory Somethings

I kept hearing how expensive Venice was for eating. But that’s only if you go to the nice places, such as Antiche Carampane, which was booked solid for lunch and dinner when I arrived at 11:45 a.m. I think it would have been worth the 25 euro plates they offered.

Nevertheless, I found a small place and had plenty of cheese and tomato.

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Reasonably priced and delicious it was, but I wasn’t full. A small place serving fried calamari had a never-ending line. I prefer the tiny squid bodies rather than the rubber band type pieces.

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A small chocolate cake in a cute place for dessert. This guy was named Paolo.

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After more walking, photographing and shooing pigeons, I needed some coffee, with a little ice cream.

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Last was a quick slice before jumping on the train. A quiet, blue sky day in the magically flooded city of Venice.

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EATing in Bologna ~ It’s Famous for a Reason

Bologna, known as “La Grassa” or “The Fat One”, is arguably the most delicious city in Italy, which is saying a lot. Parma ham, Parmigiano cheese, Balsamic vinegar, tortellini, lasagna, mortadella and home made pasta all call this region home. I visited before in August, but needed another go. I arrived early on Saturday and made my way to Osteria Bottega (Via Santa Caterina, 51). Every table was reserved, but they let me sit outside at a shared table. I ordered tortellini in brodo (tortellini soup) and stinchetti (pork leg). Both were tasty but far from that mouth punching, sense overloading taste I was expecting.

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I walked off the food during the afternoon, visited the underwhelming MAMbo (Modern Art Museum of Bologna), and did some people watching and stared at the old buildings.

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Evidently, there is a “hot twerk party” which must be like hot yoga but with more cocktails and plenty of toe touching twerking.

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Italy is never short on extravagant cathedrals and naked statues.

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For dinner, I made my way across town to Osteria Dè Poeti (Via De Poeti, 1). It was deep in an ancient refurbished wine cellar. A fire in the corner, hundreds of bottles of wine, and old framed newspapers decorated the place. I went for two pastas, the pumpkin gnocchi with bacon and leeks and lasagna. Gnocchi was tremendous and quite a sensation, despite it’s bachelor type pedigree of ingredients. Lasagna was a disappointment, consisting mostly of noodles and very little of anything else.

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After an amazing pasta coma sleep, I started out for lunch at Trattoria AnnaMaria (Via Delle Belle Arte, 17). Arriving exactly at opening, I was able to steal a table at this crowded and popular eatery. No frills in the cooking, but attentive service and lots of famous Italian faces on the wall. I went a half/half order of tortellini in brodo and tomato sauce plus some roast duck. Tortellini was the best food of the weekend! A broth so delicate with hidden flavor and home made pasta added up to blissful bites, and a respectable ragù also. The duck was strange, and the skin creeped me out with its dimples, but it tasted okay. The panna cotta was heavy with a vanilla liqueur.

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I like when the animals sell themselves as food.

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On my way to the train, I walked down the main street, Via Dell’Indipendenza, and snagged a few identical slices for a taste test. Pizza Altero was better. It was somehow soft and crunchy, with a wonderful sauce. The farther from the train station, the better the pizza.

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This slice (below) looks the same as above, but it wasn’t as good, and too chewy on the bottom.

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