The first place I saw in Italy was Bologna. My parents and I had just landed in the nearby airport after my very-first overnight flight. We took a bus from the airport to the train station, struggling to stay awake against increasingly-powerful waves of exhaustion. All I remember seeing was the arches along viale Indipendenza and a Foot Locker. Essentially, I didn’t really see Bologna during my first trip to Europe or any subsequent ones.
When my parents came to Italy, it seemed like the perfect time to go. I wanted to see Bologna, my mom wanted to see Ravenna and, well, my dad wanted to spend a couple hours at the cappella degli Scrovegni in Padova (but that’s a different story for a different post).
Bologna made a difficult transition from Naples with it’s perfectly manicured houses and relatively tame citizens. I expected it to be bigger, more impressive, more Italian, whatever that means, than it was. The stores, the houses, the streets; it was lovely, but they had a hint of every-city about them. There was nothing, except for a few hidden corners, that made Bologna grab you and want to sit in wonder for a few moments.
Seeing the Garisenda Tower, and making horrendous Dante jokes, was probably my favorite part of our time in Bologna. That, or walking out of a horrible cheese shop when they tried to sell me an over-priced piece of supermarket parmesan Be aware!
Ravenna, despite being a horribly dull little town for the tourist, was a delight to wander around. Not to mention, the mosaics! They’re not exactly something I would recommend to the every visitor to Italy, but if you’ve been to the peninsula a couple of times and want to see something fantastic, they should be on your list. Who am I kidding, they should be on everyone’s list.
Ravenna was the epitome of Northern Italian town and then some. We were there on the first truly hot day of the year and you could simply feel the attitude and the rhythm of the city slowly settling into its summer routine. Not many people were out and when they were they were eating gelato on Ravenna’s high street (no joking, it really was a high street).
Not only can you see mosaics, you can see Dante’s tomb! That was certainly good for a few laughs on my part, especially as we tried to figure out when it was constructed. Let’s just say, I have my doubts as to whether or not Dante’s remains could really reside in Ravenna.
Do you enjoy going to small cities when you travel? What’s your favorite hidden-gem city?