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Bologna's New History

Torre Asinelli

ITALY | Wednesday, 27 May 2015 | Views [129] | Scholarship Entry

While I climbed The Asinelli Tower, I thought to myself Bologna, Italy definitely does not cater to tourists. Something made abundantly clear by the tower being one of two tourist attractions. I was annoyed. I remembered all the other European cities I had visited and where my American accent instantly attracted street vendors. I thought I hated being accosted by them but it turns out that I at least like some of the attention. Go figure.

I was more than halfway to the top when I saw that one of the windows in the tower was covered in stickers: funny stickers, band stickers, political stickers, and the adhesive remnants of a lot of other stickers. I frowned. This was one of two towers left standing. A historical landmark!

Finally, I made it to the top. And the views delivered. I forgot about the window and softened up towards Bologna.

I half climbed, half fell down the stairs. I tumbled out of the tower and thought Now what? Trying to answer that question, I walked to the center again. I sat there for a while people watching, pretending to blend in by hiding my camera. There I began to see Bologna’s vibrant culture.

After dinner, I wandered over to Piazza Verdi, the center of university life. There I found groups of twenty-somethings. I made hesitant conversation with a couple of natives. They accepted my butchered Italian. More than just accepted. They encouraged me trying to practice my Italian. They asked me about my travels around Europe and what I liked about Bologna. Not much about my life is the US.

I woke up the next day with feet that never wanted to support my weight ever again. Slowly I ventured out again for round two. Walking around the city this time I felt more and more compelled to turn every corner and keep exploring.

I thought back to the window. Bologna doesn’t need to cater to tourists because the residents breathe life into the city on their own. The city is full of color even though most of the buildings are adobe colored.

The two-day trip left me feeling creatively charged. If I had stayed any longer, I would’ve been able to write a full novel in a week. Bologna is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe and every new generation of students refreshes the city and refuses to rely on tradition. Instead marching ahead with progressive political and social movements, creating an elaborate history that you can find anywhere, including the windows of the last standing tower.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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