Italy!

All photographs by Kathy Noltze unless otherwise noted.

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Bologna

Ferrara

Ostia Antica

Pantheon

Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain

Vatican

 

Bologna Less than 2 hours by rail from Termini

At the University of Bologna

 

Stone Age immigrants to eventual America had yet to see a wheel when Romans established the world's first university. Iceland and Greenland were being explored while surveyors inventoried England for the Domesday Book in 1088 AD, the year of the founding of the University of Bologna. (Weren't they still using clay tablets back then?)

     The Sinagua people of Arizona had yet to build their hillside communities in 1088 AD.

     This is the oldest continuous university in the world. Today, it has about 100,000 students. Although it has 23 disciplines, it is most renowned for the teaching of law.

Hallowed halls of the oldest university in the world

Street art/graffiti is a trademark of Bologna

of which residents are proud.

On the campus, as in the city, arches and columns all over

 

Flybills and graffiti: not the same aura as Oxford or Cambridge

Typical: students waiting. (I hark back to my own circumstances.)

 

Colorful side street on the university campus

Many public parks and piazzas in Bologna

 

Shopper's paradise: acres of flea markets (I didn't see any fleas)

 

Streets in the core of the city were closed to motor vehicles

on the Sunday evening that I was there. Seemingly everyone

in town came out to enjoy traffic-free sauntering in the shops

and sidewalk cafs. No motorcycles, no noise.

 

After the market: acres of vacant piazza

As in many cities of Europe, this statue in Piazza Maggiore

serves as a rendezvous spot and a venue for people-watching.

The Basilica of S. Petronio has its origins in the year 910 AD.

Over the centuries, it has been rebuilt several times.

This new building is over 500 years old.

Due Torri - Two Towers

This outdoor caf is opposite the Basilica on the Piazza Maggiore.

It's a good place to indulge in gelato and people-watching.

 

 

The International Hotel in Bologna is one I highly recommend;

it's in a good location in city center, a short stroll from the train station.

Rooms are large and clean and serviced promptly. Breakfast buffet has

a range of hot and cold selections to start out an active day.

 

Outside the biblioteche (library)

 

Ceiling in the biblioteche

 

Interior courtyard of biblioteche

Archiginnasio of Bologna: This 16th Century edifice was

at one time the main building of the University of Bologna.

Ferrara

Short train ride from Bologna in northern Italy

Moat and Castle Estense, Ferrara

This is in the center of town, an easy walk from the station.

Construction of the castle began in 1385 AD.

 

Nobody knows how old Ferrara is, but its name appeared in a document in the year 753 AD. It's on the River Po in northern Italy, a lovely side-trip from Bologna. It is the first town in Italy to be master-planned, and not planned around Roman systems.

     Ferrara is known as the Renaissance city and became a cultural center in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Parade of medieval characters at castle

 

Raiding the cannon ball stack

Morning walkers and joggers on Ferrara's Roman wall.

This wall was renovated 300 years ago.

 

This marble creature guards the castle.

Street scene: ancient buildings, contemporary sidewalk cafs.

 

Over five miles of stone and brick walls built 600 years ago circle Ferrara. On a sunny Sunday morning, joggers and stick-walkers (a cluster of folks clicking along with walking sticks in both hands) and traipsers like me enjoyed a shady portion of the wall.

Ferrara is on the main rail line between Bologna and Venice.

Station opened in 1862, about the time the railroad came to Ulao, Wisconsin.

 

 

Travel off-peak and you might get a train car to yourself.

Ostia Antica

Near Fiumicino Airport

Ostia once was a harbor town at the mouth of the Tiber River but the river changed course; now the archeological remains of Ostia ("Ostia Antica") are about three miles inland. Much of the excavation can be seen from the road that takes you to Italy's main airport.

     Experts believe the community started about 1000 BC. This information was gleaned from ancient writers. However, the oldest remains that have actually been excavated date to about 2600 years ago.

     Castrum is the oldest settlement at Ostia that has been unearthed. This was initially a military fortress.

     In the third century BC, Ostia was primarily a naval base; it developed into a commercial harbor in the second century BC. By the second century AD, Ostia was almost entirely rebuilt. In this time also, two temples were built adjacent to the forum, Ostia's central square. 

     On a sunny morning in April 2013, I rambled the streets of Ostia, visualizing life 2000 years ago. 2000 years from now, will someone want to know about our existence?

 

 

Ostia's population grew to about 50,000, partly due to the import of slaves from Egypt, the Middle East, and Turkey. Rich people became richer by breeding slaves. Most households had at least one.

 

I wonder where all the heads go.

 

They've replaced many of the statues with fiberglass replicas.

 

After a series of earthquakes and tsunamis in the third and fourth centuries AD, much of Ostia was covered with silt; ancient buildings were left in ruins. Marble and bricks were plundered. 15th Century tourists scavenged for sourvenirs.

     By the 1800s, the pope ordered the first excavations. In the 1900s, frantic excavations were begun by Mussolini, who hoped to use Ostia in a world fair which never materialized.

     The site has acres and acres of excavated history plus much unexcavated treasure, left for future humanity to discover with their latest technologies.

     Arrive early in the day to avoid bus crowds, including Italian school children on daytrips.

    

 

Fresh color amidst ruins

 

Forum and large temple at top of stairs

 

Pantheon

Walk from Piazza Navona

A church, a tomb....over 2000 years old and in continuous use

 

Outside the Pantheon: another horse with a headless driver

 

Pantheon dome. To construct it, concrete was poured

 into molds. The circular opening in the dome, the oculus,

is the main source of natural light for the Pantheon.

This dome is over 2000 years old and is the largest

unreinforced concrete dome in the world.

Fontana del Pantheon

   
Spanish Steps Walk from Trevi Fountain

 

 

   
Trevi Fountain Walk from Pantheon

 

 

 

   
Vatican Independent walled city-state

Hiking through history

 

 

 

St. Peter's Square set up for weekly papal address

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