October 2010 Italy Switzerland Austria Germany

Part 1: Greece - Emilia Romagna

Fancy the rainbow above? The gifts of a rainy October weather while I am on the ferry to Italy and we're still at North Greece which makes it not so optimistic for the weather I'll face when I will reach my destination. Next day the ferry enters the port of Ancona with one hour delay. Not the first or the last delay so keep this in mind in case you have a strict schedule on your trip. Weather is rainy but not enough to make me wear my waterproof gear though I drive under heavy rain for a little while as I head North West. After an almost indifferent route on the 16 and 9 I reach Bologna and then I head for Savigno, South West of the city. A few km South of the village is a farm where my friend Silvia works and offers to host me. A very generous person with Italian father and a mother from Crete. I struggle a bit on the farmers muddy roads with my fully loaded bike but with her instructions from the phone (no GPS unless you call GPS my 2010 phone) I manage to arrive at the place which would give me full green view for the next days:

"Fattoria I Piani Di Marco Fetrin" @ Savigno

As a payback for her hospitality I try to improve her Hellenic as she asks me to keep talking my mother tongue whenever I try English instead. An ultra thick blanket she hands me will help me survive in her little farm house and later at night she drives me in her car up to Bologna for my first time in the city to meet some friends of hers for drinks. What a lovely one it is! The (often historic) beauty is obvious from the first steps - we're talking about the city that has the oldest University in Europe.

A walk at Piazza Magiore is definitely among the highlights with its marvellous attractions:

Palazzo d'Accursio

Fountain of Neptune

It's night and the only camera I have is my phone's but still I can't skip picturing the famous two towers of Bologna, mainly cause one is very tall and (most impressively) the other is leaning! :

Look at this to have an idea of the inclination:

A guy tells me at the spot that they had to cut it down 30 meters shorter for security reasons.

I will never forget the great aperitivos we try in various bars downtown where with just a few euros more on your first drink you are given the ultimate weapon: A dish, which allows you to take advantage of the free access to a delicious rich buffet. I'm still in Italy so imagine what a rich buffet looks and tastes like. I felt sorry though for the fact that we found no space in this sweet medieval place with a cool Jazz band nailing it:

Next day I take advantage of a non rainy morning to walk around the farm and see what is what:

Seems that the owner is a part time biker too:

The "parking lot" never runs out of green:

Some funny little signs on the way:

Pigs of all sizes:

Silvia spends most of her time inside the "Formaggeria" and I am tempted to see what's behind this funny wall:

Inside is where all those delicious cheeses are born:

At noon Silvia drives me in her car once again to Bologna so I manage to see the city in daylight this time. We walk through and open market where I am a bit surprised by some that were for sale:

That toddler seems to share the same surprise:

Around an hour later Silvia takes a shot of me at Bologna's metro for the "Hellas follows me everywhere I go" folder:

At a bar later I picture one of the craziest creations I've ever found in a bar:

The funny thing is that believe it or not, it looks pretty close to the owner of the bar - I just didn't feel like picturing him for...rather obvious reasons...

The canal of Bologna was drained for (as I am told) isolating and maintenance works so I manage to picture its dry version of it:

As we walk the kinda cramped backstreets of the city Palazzo Grassi with its wooden columns attracts my attention:

Time to see the famous medieval towers of Bologna in daylight this time. Symbols of the wealth of the rich families that used to own them, you can imagine that they were a perfect fit for "size matters".

"Torre Guidozagni" this one:

Not tall enough for you? See "Torre Prendiparte" then:

There's a reason the entrance looks like a jail - I am told that it actually used to be one.

I must admit at this point that I am drooling by looking at those fantastic stores around Bologna like this one:

It's still open today and looks exactly the same!

One more shot of the leaning tower of not Pisa, Bologna, with a bit more light this time than the previous one:

Look how tall is the other one next to it:

Once again Palazzo d'Accursio, in a brighter image than the previous time but still under gloomy and unfriendly conditions photography wise:

Palazzo del Podesta, a few steps away, is definitely an attraction too:

We cramp ourselves in a bar before we head for the venue where I am invited to be a food judge - remember that competition I told you in the beginning? So we end up at a place with large tables where a bunch of guys from Abruzzo fight, sorry cook against ones from Emiglia Romagna. This night is so exceptional with warm and open hearted people from both regions of Italy that it doesn't matter who won, they both did in my book. I only pictured the start of this unofficial event (hence the plastics)...

...cause I am too busy later with the hedonistic part of the event.

With a heavy stomach I cover myself under an even heavier blanket back at the farm to survive the lack of heating on a cold and wet October night at rural Emiglia Romagna.

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