It was summer, baby, it was hot. We were in Italy, and we were happy.
Trouble never touched us; or, rather, it touched us, but only lightly.
We loved everything. We loved each other.
And, truthfully, we did not suffer from the heat. We had the cool comfort of air-conditioned accommodations.
We chose Bologna for two reasons. First, we read that it is home to the oldest university in Europe and a center of learning. That seemed impressive.
Second, Frank’s friend Don, who lives part of the year in Italy, said the food in Bologna is really good.
We experienced both aspects of Bologna, and we were glad we went.
It was a short visit, only a single night’s stay — sufficient to get a feel for the city, and time enough for one traveler’s mishap.
We arrived in Bologna on a blazing hot summer afternoon. We had to endure direct mid-day sun as we exited the railroad station and walked across the plaza, dragging our suitcases and wearing our backpacks.
We found relief, though, when we reached the Via dell’Independenza, Bologna’s main commercial street. It has canopy-covered sidewalks, stretching all the way into the medieval city center. The shade made a huge difference.
Our hotel was located along the main street. We checked in and were assigned to an airy, spacious, attic-type room on the top floor of an adjoining building. It had exposed timber beams, high ceilings and skylights, but no actual windows. There was a nice sitting area, separated from the bedroom, for morning coffee. It was a unique and wonderful room.
Just around the corner we found a sandwich shop with a huge variety of freshly made baguette-style sandwiches.
We began to appreciate Bologna. It has its own distinct identity.
Even though this was mid-summer and the height of Italy’s tourist season, Bologna seemed untouched by tourism. The people we saw were locals, sub-Saharan African immigrants, and visitors from other parts of Italy, but very few actual tourists.
We took a quick, self-guided tour through Bologna’s antique city center.
We wandered around the university buildings, poked our heads into an ornate lecture hall in the law school, and visited a 17th Century anatomy classroom where human bodies were dissected for medical students.
We learned that much of medieval Bologna was badly damaged by Allied bombs in World War II and was subsequently restored.
We discovered an ancient monastery and complex of chapels dedicated to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. It impressed us that Bologna has such a rich history.
In the evening the heat dissipated and Bologna became an outdoor sitting room and dining room. The air was fresh and delightful.
We enjoyed an especially cheerful dinner seated outdoors at a restaurant on a side street. The host and waiters were really funny and engaged.
We were treated to a passing parade of bicyclists and pedestrians as we enjoyed a delectable meal of Bolognese-style pasta and joked with our waiter.
Our little mishap occurred the next day, as we were preparing to leave Bologna.
Back again at the Bologna Centrale rail terminal, after purchasing our tickets and finding our way down to the subterranean track where we would board our train, Frank reached into his backpack and discovered that his iPad was missing.
Frank had his iPad for years. It was stuffed full of treasures, including the plays of William Shakespeare, all of Frank’s recorded music, and lots of reading material.
We rushed back to our hotel, hoping to find the missing device in the room, but it was not there. It had simply disappeared.
The delay caused us to miss our train, and there was more than an hour’s wait until the next one. By now it was lunch time, so we ducked into a pasta-only lunch-counter type restaurant next to the hotel.
All of the pasta was freshly made on the premises. At the counter you would pick your pasta and your sauce, then they would bring it to your table.
It was the best pasta we had had anywhere in Italy.
The simple, delicious lunch helped put into perspective the loss of Frank’s precious iPad. We were feeling the joy of each other’s company.
In our relationship, we try to be forgiving of small mistakes, especially while traveling. It is the key to lasting happiness.