Sunday, October 11, 2009

3rd Day in Bologna, A Year's Worth of Memories

We are on a culinary journey, but this morning we opted to take in a little bit of the local culture.  Because I was educated by and currently work with the Dominican Sisters, I wanted to see the Basilico di San Domenico, and see where this wonderful Charism started.

Approaching the exterior, I was disappointed.  Bologna is filled with graffiti. It is such a big problem that, cleaning it up, was the platform the new mayor ran on.  He hasn't been very successful in his mission. From the exterior, the Basilica looks quite large, but it also looks a bit worn and sad.
However,  the interior is magnificent.  The Basilica is one of the major churches in Bologna.  The remains of Saint Dominic (the founder of the Dominican order), are buried in St. Dominic's chapel.  The chapel was built by the architect, Floriano Ambrosini, and was decorated by painters of the Bolognese School. Among them were: Tiarini, Lionello Spada, and Mastelletta.  The cupola of the apse St. Dominic's Glory, a masterpiece by Guido Reni, was painted between 1613 and 1615.  The Theological and The Cardinal Virtues in the niches of the apse were painted by Giovanni Todeschi.  The bust in white marble by Carlo Pini represents the real face of St. Dominic. Precise measurements from the saint's skull were used.
I was only able to get a few pictures, as I was scolded by a priest.  Apparently pictures are frowned upon...I think what he said see with my eyes, not my camera. It was in Italian, so he could have said take as many photos as you want, it is beautiful to the eye, no? But I think I was right in putting the camera away.
The chapel is exquisite, but the entire interior of the church is beautiful.  The Basilica has received many works of art from its faithful.  There is a vast collection of treasures by some of the greatest Italian artists including  Giunta Pisano, Nicola Pisano, Michelangelo, Guido Reni, Filippino Lippi and others.
I really did take the time to enjoy the beauty of the church and the solitude of the nearly empty space.  At each chapel I made a contribution and "lit" a candle.  I was told by a Sister that when you make a prayer in a church, that you visit for the first time, it will be answered.  I think it is true because, I have been fortunate in this way.  I said my thanks, lit the candle and carried the experience with me for the rest of the day.

After visiting the church, I was in real need of nourishment of another kind, and found it in spades.  We happened upon an amazing chocolate shop called Roccati (Via Clavature 17/A, Bologna).  Now, this is not an inexpensive place at all...but they had a beautiful selection of wonderful chocolates, and I indulged a bit. It is all in the name of research my friends. I do this for you.

My pictures are not that great because the woman behind the counter was thinking I was going to try and steal ideas. So, she didn't want me taking any photos.  And she might be just a little bit right.  I love the presentation and the Chocolate-Hazelnut Bombe is pretty spectacular looking. So, the reason the pictures are a bit off, is because I took them with my telephoto lens...from kinda far away.  The clear picture of the four chocolates is clear because I purchased them, and arranged them on a nice linen cloth.  Believe me when I tell you, they taste as good as they look.

In the early afternoon, we headed to a small dairy farm and cheese manufacturer as well as a quick lunch in Ravenna and a cooking class at a restaurant. But it is too much to try and cram into this one note. So I will tell you all about it tomorrow.
You will be quite surprised at what a gallon of  fresh milk and some rennet will get you.
Ciao for now.


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