Hello again lettori! I know it’s been a while, so let me refresh your memories – I’m still in Bologna, still loving every moment and still not prepared for exams. But all joking aside, I figure I’ll start from where I left off: Easter break. Sorry in advance about all the text; photos will follow!
We arrived in Gravina on Sunday, April 1 at about 8 or 9 am. The bus ride was slightly nightmare-ish. The bus driver took the wrong road so proceeded to get back on track and speed to make up for lost time. A double-decker bus going really fast is not comfortable (nor safe), let me be the first to tell you. But we made it and were greeted my by Mara’s mom who was waiting for us by the bus stop. After arriving at Mara’s house, we had some coffee to keep us awake and some cookies to satisfy the slight hunger that was growing in my stomach. After freshening up, we hit the city! The sun was out and there were lots of people about because it was Palm Sunday. We got to tagalong on a great private tour of the ancient “grotte” in Gravina. They are ancient caves/living spaces carved out of rock, and inside one was a ancient Christian church, with frescos still intact! Legit.
On Monday, we went to 3 different cities: Alberobello, Castellana and Matera. All three had really interesting things to see. Alberobello has these ancient houses constructed with these conical stone tile roofs. Castellana has this underground “grotte” which has a 3km tour of these great caves with stalagmites and stalactites. Matera is where part of The Passion of the Christ was filmed, but more importantly, it’s got really beautiful landscapes with breathtaking hills and valleys. By night, it was really impressive to look out over the guardrail and not be able to see the depths of the valley.
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at Mara’s beach house in Policoro (which is in the region of Basilicata). Despite the depressing rain and wind, we made the best of our time there. The beach was awesome, and I can only imagine how packed it must be during the summer! The ocean was this amazing blue that my pictures don’t come close to capturing (but I included them anyway – use your imagination). Thursday, Elisa and I took a train back to Bologna – Friday we both were off to different Italian adventures!
Friday morning, I was taking an early (for me) train to finally meet my cousins, some of whom live in Imola, which is really close by to Bologna. From there, I was whisked off back towards Bologna to the Gino Fabbri pasticceria “La Caramella” by the Granarolo factory. If you ever visit Bologna, you MUST visit this pasticceria. In fact, I will even tell you what bus to take to arrive there: Take the 88 to the Granarolo Brenti stop. Anyway, my cousins are hilarious and the car ride to Genova passed really quickly, which was also due to the fabulous lunch we had at “I Tri Siochett” in Parma. I highly recommend this trattoria – it’s off the beaten path, but that is what adds to its charm, not to mention the food is absolutely delicious.
So we arrived in Chiavari Friday afternoon, with heavy rain and gray skies. However, I still got a good look at the lungomare (boardwalk) and the center, which was really busy despite the weather. I love the buildings in the Liguria region because the houses are painted with ornate details rather than flaunting flashy architecture. It was a refreshing change!
Saturday, we went to the beaches in Chiavari and Sestri because the sun decided to show itself, even though it was still windy and hardly sunbathing weather. The beaches themselves made up for it because they are beautiful! There is even a beach in Sestri called the “Beach of Silence” because it takes your breath away when you see it (I can attest to this, it’s true).
On Easter Sunday I woke up late after going out with my cousin the night before and found the house already bustling, my cousins preparing the giant lunch that would take place as soon as I got myself presentable. The food was incredible. I can’t even begin to describe it because it requires a whole ‘nother entry (seriously thinking of doing that). Lunch was delicious, and afterwards my cousins took me to Genova for a quick walk around the center, which was really cool! First, the resemblance to Chile, more specifically Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, was uncanny – the small space between mountainside and ocean requires the houses to be built pretty close together and on an incline. I would definitely like to return at some point, especially to see the Aquarium, which everyone keeps telling me about.
Monday, after another hefty meal, it was time to head back to Bologna. But first, my cousins took me to see the house my maternal grandfather was born in. That was probably one of the most memorable moments in my life so far. I feeling this strong connection to my family that I have never felt before, nor do I know how to describe it. Meeting my cousins was a great experience and I hope I get to see them more this semester.
Life is pretty much back to normal in Bologna. Trying hard to study, for real this time. I have 2 exams on May 14th (also happens to be my birthday, not too happy about that coincidence) and then one on May 24th. The later one is the only exam I’m slightly worried about but I figured I still have a decent amount of time to read the material. I’m going to Greece for 2 days on Sunday, so that will mean time to read on the plane! Right?
Enjoy the pictures and ci vediamo!