A break amongst ceramics and murals: Faenza and Dozza the first stops in Bologna
After a lavish and filling meal courtesy of Forlì, we can resume our journey heading north-east. It’s a pleasant journey, the afternoon is sunny and, a mere 25 km further on, there is Faenza, a city of 60,000 souls that merits a look round. The center, famous for its ceramics, put down roots in Roman times even though its exact historical origin is difficult to trace.
The main monuments are gathered in two adjacent squares dating from the early 1300s: Piazza del Popolo (where the clock-tower stands) and Piazza della Libertà. In the first you can admire the Mayor’s Palace and Palazzo Manfredi (now city hall); in the second you’ll find the cathedral. Should you be visiting Faenza during the last days of May, you can witness the passing-through of the historic 100 km race known as the Passante, an ultra-marathon which starts from Florence and, taking in the hills and passes of the Apennines, finishes in the city of Emilia. It’s a race considered a legend by many and is extremely demanding, which every year attracts more than 1,000 participants from all over the world.
This area is also full of vineyards and for wine lovers here is an opportunity to try some of the best, such as the Albana di Romagna, a white, typical of the hilly areas in the southern part of the Via Emilia, or the red Cagnina di Romagna. After a glass of excellent wine, we set off on the trail once more: the Via Emilia is a long road and we are expecting to arrive in Bologna in late evening after having made a necessary detour to the little town of Dozza, very near Imola and at least 40 km from Bologna. A colorful but small place (of about a thousand inhabitants) characterized by murals painted on the walls of the houses: in fact in Dozza there are many artworks decorating the streets of this little town which make for an occasion to take some great photos.
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For dinner, tortellini, ragù and meatloaf: in Bologna hunger wins through and we fill our stomachs.
After a walk round the narrow streets of Dozza we resume our journey. Evening is upon us and Bologna is a city more than capable giving us what we need to eat and regain our strength. We could not have chosen a better place to sample typical Emilian cooking: Bologna is popularly known as “The Fat One” because cooking has always played such import role in the local’s lifestyle. Tagliatelle in Bolognese sauce, stuffed tortellini, lasagna verdi and meatloaf are just some of the characteristic dishes that one can enjoy, prepared according to traditional recipes.
After dinner, a walk round the old town is a must: Bologna is rich in monuments, churches and various curiosities that merit our attention. If you don’t suffer from vertigo you might visit the two towers that loom over the city or, close by, Piazza Maggiore with its San Petronio basilica within which is housed the largest sundial in the world. If you are fond of interesting “magic” tricks then you could try the wireless telephone underneath the Palazzo del Podestà. What is required to make the magic work is that two people place themselves on opposite sides of the vault both facing the wall, and then start communicating in whispers. Each will clearly hear the other’s voice, and it is said that the sick and victims of plague might thus make confession.
It’s getting late and tomorrow we need to get started early. So let’s go and get some sleep in one of Bologna’s numerous high quality hostelries, and then, after a good night’s rest, set out once more. Modena and Fidenza will be our last two stops before reaching Piacenza.
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