July 27, 2010

Goodbye Italy! (Day 10 & 11)

Mr. P and I woke up on Thursday and caught the 9:36 train to Faenza (this time we validated the tickets). It took 45 min and cost 5.80 Euro. I was really excited to see the ceramics studio, but despite finding the tourist office and getting a map of the studios, we had a lot of trouble finding them! We ended up just wandering the city for a bit then heading back to the train station to catch the bus to Ravenna (45min ride and 3.10Euro pp).

Ravenna was hands down my favorite city in the region, even though we didn't spend a ton of time there- it was lively, pleasant and the mosaics were amazing! We hopped off the bus and went immediately in search of food. We had lunch at Ca' de Ven on Via Ricci and were pleasantly surprised. We normally don't like places recommended in guide books (they usually are disappointing), but Ca' de Ven had pretty good foor, reasonable prices and even had a good wine selection. We had 2 secondi, a salad, bread and a big water of sparkling water for only 23Euro. The seating area was neat, spanning both the interior and exterior of an old building, with the outside converted into a covered, climate-controlled area w/ a glass ceiling. Just a tip- when you ask for your bill, they get it ready but you go up to the counter to pay, so don't sit around waiting for it!

After lunch we bought the combo ticket to the Basilica di San Apollinare Nuovo, Museo Arcivescovile, Battistero Neoniano, Basilica San Vitale and paid the extra 2Euro for the Tomb of Galla Placidia. You just go to the ticket counter at whichever site you visit first and get the combo ticket from them. We didn't go to all the spots, but I LOVED the mosaics of Basilica di San Vitale, and rate it as a must-see when you are in this region! So much color and detail- they honestly looked like they came straight from Constantinople! The Tomb of Galla Placidia had more amazing mosaics, though I did have to fight through a mob of French children to see them. {side note- how jealous are you of those 10 year olds- when I took a school trip, I got to go to a pioneer reenactment site where they PRETENDED to have stuff from 150+ years ago. These children walked through a 5th century tomb. *drool*}

We wandered to the Battistero Neoniano since it was included on our ticket. It was small and not terribly exciting, but had some lovely mosaics and, as I said, it was 'free'.

Before catching the train back to Bologna, we stopped to say our respects at Dante's tomb. Seriously, how can you not stop by and salute the man who provided the groundwork for the standardized, modern Italian language?

Caught the train back to Bologna (took about 1.5 hours and cost about 7Euro each). Quick aside- I used the restroom on the train... and it emptied right onto the tracks. Seriously, you open the lid and stare straight down to the gravel and ties. Weird. Unsanitary.

Ok, moving right along! *cough*

For dinner we tried one of Alessandro's suggestions and were quite happy with the results. Trattoria Dal Biassanot (on Via Pielle off of Via Marsala). None of my pictures of the food came out very well, but I blame that on the delicious Sangiovese we enjoyed throughout the meal. 6 of us ate (with 2 bottles of wine and at least 3 bottles of fizzy water) for 105Euro, which was a great price for what we got!

The next day (Friday) was our last in Italy, and we took it easy {because vacation is very taxing}. Around 10:30 I climbed the Torre Asinelli again to see if the morning light made a difference.

I love this view and probably should have just climbed it each day- then I could have had even more gelato!!

Then we wandered down to the San Domenico church- pretty to wander through, and has some Michelangelo sculptures. If you want to see a fortune in glass, just look up- there are dozens of glass chandeliers, and we saw several smaller versions (and newer) that cost over 5,000 Euro each. Yikes!

And they also have the newest in prayer technology: electric candles!!! For only 1.50Euro, you too can plug in a reusable plastic stick and offer up your prayers on the... eh, whatever. It seemed to defeat the spirit of the thing though!

We met at A.F. Tamburini and sampled a variety of things from their self serve bar of premade tasties, and it was quite good. However, it was somewhat strange to buy artisan meats and cheeses and then have the friendly cashier indicate a microwave in the back of the seating area and say 'Warm up back there'. *blink* I'm in Italy- I WILL NOT EAT MICROWAVED FOOD!!!

Don't worry, I didn't shriek at him- that was more of an internal declaration. But I didn't- I ate that fried artichoke {I think} cold, damn it!

Afterwards we followed our co-travellers to La Sorbetteria Castiglioni (on, get this, Via Castiglioni) and had more amazing gelato. This moment of indulgence was followed by random wandering wherein I decided to buy ANOTHER scarf, entered a store that advertised discounts, and promptly ran away crying because the 'discount' made a designer scarf cost only 200 Euro instead of 340. GAH!

Finally we packed up our bags and left them in the baggage area at the hotel and then had dinner at yet another of Alessandro's suggestions, Ristorante Da Bertino. This adorable place (on Via della Lame near the train station) seems to be run by Mama and Papa Bertino and appeared to be filled totally with locals. The food was good, the service was good, and we enjoyed out last meal in Bologna.

After dinner, we ended up at the station again, waiting for our night train to Paris. And waiting. And waiting. But that is a topic for another post.

Goodbye Italia!!

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