Day ??: Modena to Bologna
The morning in Modena found our bikes laden up again and us in the centro. We explored around an indoor market, after spending 20 minutes trying to lock up our panniers, bikes and backpacks with one lock. After buying local cheese (from the Parma - Reggio region) and balsamic vinegar (from Modena), we unlocked bags and bikes and got ourselves happily lost on the way to the train station.
We were training to Bologna because of exhaustion. Of course, the task of getting on and off trains isn't the easiest either. This time, Matt had an epic struggle to load onto the bicycle section of the train. Probably because I was too dumb to help. The conductor was also useless and instead of letting us put the bikes in the proper hanging location, she made us move them from side to side for each stop.
Bologna (buh-lon-ya) was to be our first campeggio. These are specific locations with permanent "tents", shed sized bungalows, parking spaces for camper-vans and spots for bring-your-own tents. Generally, the campeggi are found on the outskirts of cities, and have full facilities to accommodate even the most weary of travellers. Bathrooms, showers, laundry machines and dishwashing stations, restaurants, cafes, food markets. Nothing like camping in the Canadian wilderness.
Leaving our stuff in the office, we headed into Bologna centro. As we prepared to go, the VanMoof caught the eye of a traveller. He had heard of the brand before, and showed interest in our trip and the bikes. Surprising because he was from Malaysia. Less surprising as he was flying to Amsterdam that day. Hopefully another VanMoof was sold because of Matt's enthusiasm.
Bologna is known as a university town and a foodie haven, with a few interesting architectural details. With cloudy heads wandering aimlessly, we passed through the bustling university section. We meandered under some of the miles of notorious colonnades, ending up in front of the local San Petronio Basilica. The Basilica was built to rival the size of St. Peter's in Rome. The contemporary Popish guy (Pius IV) wasn't very happy about this, and so built the first formal scholarly building to one side - it was the first University . This effectively halted the construction of the wings - there are unfinished sections at the side showing the ceased construction.
The library did not only stop the sides of the Basilica from being finished, but also the facade. The city of Bologna, who backed the project financially, ran out of cash. The facade is half completed, with colourful marble on the bottom and unfinished brickwork up top. Or apparently that's what it looks like. To me, it looked like scaffolding, with a picture.
Regardless, we sat in front, had an overpriced and unpalatable cafe. One must learn that the nicest places to sit - those in sunshine with good views - are usually the highest in euros and lowest in value. Watched some balloon origami, and student antics in the square. Heading out into the busy streets, where bikes and scooters rule - with buses a close third - we came across the towers of the city gates. One leans oddly, and the other is short. Had prize winning gelato, which was good, but possibly not 15 minute line up good. Beside us, as we ate, were the original types of Bolognese arcades: wood supported overhangs.
Back at the campsite, the neighbouring campervan asked if we would like to join him in partying Bologna style. He was with two university friends, travelling from Stuttgart. They had a week to road trip, and had made it to Bologna before needing to turn around. High prices for gas and the beefy vehicle were not favourite topics from them… Hope everything turned out well though!