Continuing our snaking journey north and with the accompanying wonder of visiting and exploring new and diverse lands, our stop in Bologna has got me feeling all nostalgic. Perhaps it is the large student population or the relative lack of monuments but Bologna has me dreaming of Bristol.
While attending university I came to view Bristol as my home away from home and perhaps the city in which I felt most comfortable in my native land. The counter-culture atmosphere, the optimistic yet worldly people and the sense of community that is lacking in so many bigger cities in this world, all ensure that Bristol, and the friends I made there, will always have a place in my heart.
Walking around Bologna, one can almost touch the sense of freedom and creativity. Bologna, like Bristol, is not a major tourist destination, despite its inherent charm, so it’s easy to escape that feeling that you are merely another customer on the conveyor belt of tourism. I get the feeling that many of the people who went to university in the city find it extremely difficult to leave, an experience I myself endured when I finally made the decision to drag myself away.
Both cities are havens for bike riders in countries for car drivers, with cycle lanes creating a useful network, a rarity in major cities in England and Italy. Bars are more relaxed, less formal, with less people dressing to impress, with the focus on conversation and company. Everywhere you look there are different clothes and subcultures with mohicans rubbing shoulders with black booted rockers, and people just seem friendlier, not once have we been grunted at for asking for something in a shop.
But still our journey must go on, and so I sit at a bus station waiting to get to the edge of town (we missed the first bus, of course) preparing myself for the hitch-hike and the hoards of tourists that await us in Venice, thinking about my home in Blighty.
written by: Jon
Follow our 2 month hitch-hiking trip across the north of Italy and the Balkan Peninsula:‘The Balkan Peninsula by Thumb 2013′. It’s happening now!
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