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20 May 2012

Bologna's Ts

According to my local expert, Bologna is most famous for its 3 Ts:

1) Towers
Way back when, in Bologna power was demonstrated through tower building.  He who built the largest tower was obviously the most powerful.    These are le due Torri, or "the two towers".  The one in the foreground actually used to be twice that size, but they had to cut it off in the middle because, as you can see, it would have toppled over.  The tower in the background is open for people to climb up it's ever winding staircase for a well-worth-the-3-Euro view of the entire city.

2) Tortellini
Now this is technically tortelloni, which is what most people outside of Italy would call Tortellini anyways.  Tortelloni is basically large Tortellini.  Tomato, Tomahto, it was the most delicious pasta dish I've every had.

3) Tits
This is one of the mermaid women from the base of the famous Neptune statue in Piazza Maggiore ("Big Square").  As you can see from this photo, the mermaids play a key role in the water fountain's design as they shoot water from their nipples.  According to my local expert, they actually used to cover the naked Neptune so as to not offend/disgust the women of the city center.  But apparently the site of a woman holding her breasts with perky water spouts for nipples was never an abhorrent site to see for anyone.

17 May 2012

Ciao, bella Italia!

And the beautiful countryside that is Mercatale.

I visited a good friend of mine in this lovely town (though apparently EXTREMELY lame, as said by a 40-year resident we met at the bus stop) in the countryside near Bologna, Italy.  Picturesque rolling hills dotted with vineyards, all in the bloom of spring.

There were also many seedlings in the air and covering the grass like summer snow.  They were so light and fluffy and at one point on our early evening walk we found ourselves enswarmed with these cotton-like seeds.  It was very surreal.  I took a short video as still photos couldn't quite capture the feeling...
video

04 May 2012

Erste Mai

On May 1st, or "Erste Mai", it's custom in Germany to go out for a bit of a hike with your family or friends.  Last year the weather didn't heed for a long hike, but this year it was perfect!  Not too warm, not too cool, and just enough sun.  I partook in a short hike up to visit the "Burgruine" (castle ruins) in Waldkirch.
For a little castle it was quite busy!  The Waldkirch Fire Brigade was also there, selling cakes and beer and whatnot, as well as plenty of families out and about for the day.

The path to the ruins is winding and not too steep, but with a noticeable incline.  It is sporadically marked with wooden "Ritter" (knight) sculptures.  Each sculpture or carving has a small tablet next to it, describing a particular knight from the castle's heyday.  A few are the typical "good" knights, helping the poor and saving people, but the majority of the tablets spoke of vicious knights who would steal and set things on fire.

The view from the castle is very nice - you can see all the way to Freiburg on a clear day - but what peaked my interest more, however, was the presence of green liveliness that existed among the cold stone walls.  It was a lovely day!