Venice to Bologna to Florence

While Mary did an excellent job of describing Venice yesterday, I (Ann) just want to make it totally clear: we both LOVED this city and weren’t ready to leave.  Beautiful, exciting and just plain fun.

But, now on to Florence with a few hours delay to explore Bologna.  This ancient city, just northwest of the Apennines was largely destroyed in WWII, and our visit was brief. But here’s what I found most interesting.  Bologna is the seat of Europe’s oldest university, dating back to before the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  And before that, it was a region where young men gathered, chipped in and paid wise or talented men to teach them.  Eventually this system was replaced by the first university, whose two main subjects taught were medicine and law.

This photograph shows a reconstruction of the amphitheater where students were taught anatomy, in the near seats, and where the general public could pay a small entrance fee and get to watch dissections in seats further back along the side walls.  (Such fun!)  These dissections were only allowed to take place during the 2 months prior to lent partially for religious reasons (it is considered an impure season) and partially because the dead bodies kept better in the winter.

The professor, (the only person allowed to speak) would sit in the highest seat and describe what was being shown. The associate professor would sit in the seat below him and silently point out body parts with a stick.  The actual dissection would be done by a barber.

As with so much of Bologna, the original of this building was destroyed in the war and this was constructed from photographs of the original.

Another very interesting sighting in Bologna was the tradition of young men and women who graduate – whether from high school, or college, or even having just passed their last exams prior to an actual graduation ceremony – to wear laurel leaf crowns in celebration of their accomplishments.  These crowns are apparently accompanied by the enjoyment of lots of vino, as at least one young scholar hit the deck before our eyes.  Check out the cute shoes on the girl on the right!










I am afraid we have been somewhat lax in photographing the statuary in Italy thus far, though it can all be seen in books.  This is the main fountain in the piazza in Bologna.  Neptune is at the top, surrounded by literally dozens of figures.  To the right I’ve picked just one of many supporting figures to show more detail.










From Bologna we drove on to Florence.  About halfway along the 90 minute drive an accident shut down the autostrade, so our coach driver bravely hopped off onto back roads through gorgeous Tuscan countryside.  Despite some thrilling moments on hairpin turns, we all agreed it was a much nicer route into this most famous of renaissance cities.

Some more things I’ve learned:

The term “Ballot” as in voting comes from the word balls, because the Venetian representatives would vote by putting either a red or a blue ball into a receptacle, and the balls were then counted.

St. Bartholomew (one of the 12 disciples) was skinned alive, and is depicted in statuary and paintings as just muscles, bones and sinews with the skin draped around his body.  (Ew.)

There is such a thing as “blood oranges.”  These were served on the breakfast buffet in Como, and often orange juice served here is dark red in color.  They are sweet and delicious.  Here’s what they look like.

Ciao! -Ann


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julia
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 22:55:50

    I am LOVING reading about your adventures! The combination of historical facts and trip anecdotes is really great. Glad to hear you’re having a wonderful time and enjoying all Italy has to offer! Miss and love both of you.
    ❤ Julia


  2. Chris Mullen
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 01:10:58

    Hello Ann and Mary,
    I have been away from the computer for a day and a half and was delighted to find 2 new posts from you. It really is a blast to follow along on your trip with you. Mary, your descriptions of Venice make me want to visit there. Is it possible to walk anywhere, or do you really have to take a boat wherever you want to go?
    I love hearing about the usual tourist informaton such as architecture and history (LOVED the anatomy theater), but am just as enthralled with the quirky details and food photos. DO NOT discontinue showing us the beautiful things you are eating…those blood oranges make my mouth water! The pears behind them also look delicious.
    As for the main fountain in Bologna, is it an optical illusion or is the water pressure from the right breast higher than the left? Also I couldn’t quite tell if Neptune’s parts are covered in fig leaves like hers are. Double standard, perhaps?
    Please DO keep the shoe commentary coming. I presume that the young lady in the polka dot stilettos and the laurel crown was graduating from barmaid school?
    Continue to have a great time, this sounds like a fabulous trip. So glad you’re doing a blog!


    • Ann
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 13:16:14

      Mary and I want to make it clear that one of the highlights of our blogging is seeing that there is a comment from you, as we know we will be tremendously entertained! It hadn’t occurred to us that the graduation could be from barmaid school, but of course it must be! Any new Indy photos?


  3. Sue
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 09:34:20

    I am planning a trip to Rome and Venice, do you have any recommendations on where to stay? Are two full days/nights in Venice enough?


    • Ann
      Jan 11, 2012 @ 11:32:42

      We stayed at Venezia 2000 on the Lido, a boat-ride away from downtown but very peaceful, on the ocean. Not an outstanding place, but very suitable and clean. Since Venice was my favorite, I’d say two weeks wouldn’t be enough, but we were only there for one full day and 2 nights.


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