Rainy Days

Over the last few weeks, we’ve gotten to experience the wetter side of Bologna. It more or less rained from our drive home from San Terenzo Easter weekend until last Friday.

Bologna is a funny place in the rain. The city’s still very active, even when the rain is pouring, as there are enough porticos providing shelter in the center to allow people to continue their shopping and afternoon strolls. Heck, you can even sit outside and enjoy a caffè on the sidewalk if the bar has seating under a portico.

However, there are gaps in coverage, so you’ll see people popping up umbrellas to cross the street and then closing them 20 seconds later once they are safely under the next portico. You’ll also see people sans umbrella making a run for it. And you’ll see plenty of people stranded under awnings waiting for the rain to die down (especially those who ride motos who left their rain gear at home).

In Seattle, you could generally pick out a tourist if someone was using an umbrella at all. Seattlelites pretty much wore rain gear with hoods year-round or didn’t mind getting a little water on their hair. In Bologna, I suspect you can pick out a tourist by the size of their umbrella. The experienced folks seem to have extra-large umbrellas, big enough to fit two people comfortably. Those with small umbrellas likely just bought them for 5 Euro from an opportunistic street vendor. We currently fall into the second category…

Due to the inclement weather, we put our hiking plans on hold and spent some time indoors (and under porticos) eating, drinking, and meeting new people. I’ll spend more time discussing some of these in future posts, but here is a quick recap:

– We met some great people from two of Bologna’s international communities, the International Women’s Forum and InterNations.

– We dined hyper-Italian style getting seated for dinner post-10PM and leaving after midnight at Da Vito’s.

– We practiced one of the most important Italian pastimes, going for an aperitivo. Aperitivo time is somewhat comparably to Happy Hour in the US. It can last anywhere from 6:30 – 9:30PM. And it can be anything from a quick pre-dinner drink to a full-on dinner replacement since many places offer substantial snacks included with your drink purchase. So far, 051 (ZeroCinquantuno) right off of Piazza Maggiore wins our title for best aperitivo food in terms of being a good substitute for dinner. They have a large buffet including dinnerish items like penne and veggies.

Fortunately, the rain let up by Saturday, in time for a few Spring festivals here in Bologna. There was StraBologna, an event promoting athletics, for which we ran the 10.5km. There was the Granfestival Internazionale Della Zuppa, or Festival of Soup, which included a soup cook off. And yesterday (4/25) was a national Italian holiday, Liberation Day, celebrating the liberation of Italy during WWII.  While we had some good times in the rain, we are very happy it’s feeling like Spring again!

In a nutshell

What we saw: Lots of rain and un doppio arcobaleno (double rainbow!)
What we said: “Viva la zuppa!” or “Long live the soup!”
Lessons learned: Buy a bigger umbrella to fit in

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