When traveling, I always marvel at today's transport system that allows us to be in Berlin in the morning and in the heart of Italy mere two and a half hours later. Having survived my Easyjet flight without as much as the free cup of water they apparently did offer (when they came round with beverages I was too afraid to be swindled into a 10$ cup of coffee to order anything) and escaped the masses of primarily German tourists at the Venice airport, all prepared to leave a small fortune behind in the most expensive city of Italy (if not Europe?), I was well on my way to Bologna by regional train. Let me tell you, regional trains are the best because a) dirt cheap, b) prime people watching and Italian-listening option and c) you get to actually see the country (of course, the flipside is they stop in EVERY inhabited piece of land, so if you need to be somewhere quick - uh-oh...). The moral of the story - after plane, shuttle bus and train I reached Bologna around 3pm.
Now, let me tell you - Bologna is gorGEOUS. There are not that many specific sights, rather the entire city is uniformly beautiful with red, orange and ocre buildings that glow warmly in the afternoon sun, tons and tons of porticoes, covered walkways lining the streets with columns reminiscent of Roman times, and culinary, fashion and electronics specialty stores that show that the average Bolognese must lovvvve shopping -and have the necessary cash. Groggy from traveling and somewhat hungry, I beelined it through the city centre to one of the purportedly best gelaterias of town: Gelatauro. My Rough Guide said its particularly famous for its specialty flavors, including "fennel, pumpkin and blood orange". They didn't have ant of the above, but I got "cannoli siciliano" (with mascarpone, chocolate shavings and waver pieces) and a concoction whose name I forget with bergamot the, jasmine and cake crumbs. Heavenly. Onwards on my way across the city, I make my way around the famed Due Torri, the only two remaining of originally hundreds of towers present in the city in the Middle Ages, and find the university district - Bologna has the oldest university of Europe and a whopping one-fifth of its 500,000 inhabitants are students! I am excited to explore the uni a little more tomorrow -stay tuned! For now, let me say that meandering around town like this makes for tired legs -but nothing, that one (or two) latte breaks can't cure. :) a pronto!