I am writing this while on the plane from Frankfurt to Seattle, 2,300 miles from Seattle. We just passed over Greenland and are a little over 5 hours from landing back stateside. We were up at 3 a.m. Bologna time on Monday (6 p.m. Sunday California time) and will reach Sacramento at 5:20 p.m. (PST).
We spent our last 3 days in Bologna saying “ci vediamo a presto” (see you soon) to our favorite locations and visiting a few of the Christmas markets that have sprung up in Bologna and all over Italy for that matter. Admittedly we had to do a bit of apartment cleaning, packing, prosecco and sangiovese drinking. We did manage to get it all done!
For those wanting to improve their Italian by studying in a city where you will learn, have the opportunity to speak with locals, enjoy great food, be in a high speed rail hub and a short regional train ride away from wonderful places like Florence, Modena, Parma, Ravenna and Ferrara….Bologna is the city for you.
As for the language school, you will not beat Academya Lingue, Andrea and his staff. Two hours of interactive instruction, an hour break at the coffee bar to chat in Italian with your classmates and the instructors, followed by another hour with a different instructor.
My time at Academya Lingue has truly been one of the most fulfilling things I have done. A dream come true and well worthy of a repeat, or three-peat, etc. The only thing I would do different is to do my touring at the beginning or the end of the classes rather than in the middle. Live and learn!
We went back to visit Piazza Maggiore where on any given day it is full of people but especially so on Saturdays and Sundays where there is a mix of locals, tourists and Italians who come for the day.
Of course we went to the “Due Torre” one of which leans more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa and is even older.
A quick stop at the Siete Chiese in Piazza Santo Stefano. This piazza is interesting for its cobblestone and triangular shape. I walked through this piazza every day on the way to classes as the school is on Via Santo Stefano.
We visited 3 different Christmas markets, two of which are major fundraisers for the associated churches (one is held in booths set in the church porticos and the other set up in tents in the street adjacent to the Cathedral of San Pietro. The third was an open air French Market where all the vendors were from France and they sold their French goods and food in cute little chalet huts. There must have been 20 or so vendors. All of the markets were so much fun to shop through I had to repack my suitcases!
Things I will miss in Bologna:
- The beautiful view of the entire historic city from the terrace of our apartment
- The beauty of the art in the churches
- The sunsets and sunrises from the 2 different sides of our apartment terrace
- Giardini Margherita with people of all ages enjoying life, running, walking, strolling, kids on the amusement rides and the turtles in the pond with the great fountains
- Shopping at the grocery store in front of the apartment where the clerks would help me with my Italian
- The food, the redness of the buildings and rooftops, the young vibe from the 100,000 university students from all over the world
- The dogs, especially all the short legged, long bodied ones
- The father I would see nearly every morning pulling his young daughter to school each morning on her 3 wheeled scooter while she dressed as a princess, or a fairy, or all in sparkles…something I looked forward to each day on the way to school
- The ease of taking the train to somewhere new (Siena, Arezzo, Ravenna…) or back to somewhere familiar (Venice and Florence).
- And, of course, the porticos. There is nothing quite like Bologna’s porticos.
- And finally, all the teachers and students I met at Academy Lingue…especially a wonderful young woman from Kazakhstan, Katia.