Wednesday last week I was doing Swedish conversation with a native speaker, who’s also a club member, and the topic of Bologna came up.
That’s where we have our Italian school, where I’ve lived for the last quarter of a century, and where my three, now-adult, children were born – in the Policlinico di Sant’Orsola, a university hospital founded in 1592 (the university itself is much older, but we’ll get to that).
Clearly I’m no sort of ‘Bolognese’, even after twenty-five years. One of the mums in the park the other day, whose offspring Roomie was bounding about with, remarked wistfully that I had a strong English accent. She meant it kindly, I think.
But my kids most definitely are ‘Bolognesi’, as one definition of being a local is that you were born within earshot of the bells of Policlinico di Sant’Orsola. Their cousins in Firenze sound different, as do my kids to them.
Live in a place long enough and you get to know its charms but also its faults. Which brings me back to our Swedish conversation. My online friend is also a regular student at Madrelingua and was telling me that when he comes again in September he’d like to visit FICO (‘Il Parco da Gustare’), a sort of foodie theme park a few miles out of town.
I haven’t been, because you have to pay to get in, because the shuttle bus from the central station is not free either, but mostly because the center of Bologna, where the school is, is already packed full of gastronomic wonders. Cheese, meat, fish, vegetables, wines – just wander through the narrow streets off to the left of Piazza Maggiore, feasting your eyes as you go.
They have animals at FICO, apparently – cows, sheep, goats, that sort of thing – so I briefly considered taking Roomie, who likes to pet, and be petted. But then I remembered that the urban farm down the road, part of a ‘sixties housing project with a bad reputation, has a donkey, a horse, a cow, and a sheep, plus gaggles of fowl of different types. Also, it runs off donations (chuck your spare change in the milk churn to buy straw for the animals) rather than coporate sponsorship. So never mind.
Later that day, my conversation partner sent me a video of Bologna, which features FICO, and Bologna’s other, older sights.
I hated it. Particularly the incredibly irritating music, but also the fact that it was filmed on some impossible day when there were no crowds, all the outside bars and restaurants had free tables, the weather wasn’t obviously too hot, there were no cars honking to get past, and so on.
But for a rose-tinted introduction to the city, you could do worse. The voiceover is in English, too. Unchallenging, as is the text itself. Really, really sorry about the music…
Poi, by some sort of amazing, psychic coincidence, that very same day my wife sent me a link to a video on Facebook about – you guessed – Bologna, with the comment that it was a “nice video about Bologna’s history (very fast and a bit long…)”
That more or less sums it up. It’s in Italian, it IS very fast, and it is quite long. It’s also very funny in parts, and filmed on a real, non-magical day, with proper weather, and intrusive traffic sounds.
If you fancy your Italian, do take a look. I’d estimate that you’d have to have near-native speaker comprehension skills to get more than the gist of it. Think of it as a C2 listening test!
But even if you don’t understand rapid spoken Italian, take a look anyway. The video is quite visual, gives you a much better idea of the city than the other one, and most importantly, there’s OUR TOWER, the Torre Azzoguidi, which is in our street, just a couple of doors down from the school, and visible in close up from the window of the small classroom where I plonk my computer to work when I’m not typing away at my kitchen table.
For a quick introduction to Bologna’s famous towers, fast-forward to minute 6 in the video (press ‘play’, then drag the pointer to the right). There are some great views. OUR tower is at minute 6.58. It’s one of the ugliest ones, I admit, but it ours!
Well actually, of course it isn’t, but you’ll excuse me feeling proud when MY tower is on TV, despite me being an ‘extracomunitario‘ with an accent. Hah!
Here’s that video link again, the fast, long, funny one: https://fb.watch/iHoPKND6k7/
P.S. ‘Io la conoscevo bene’, £5.99 until Sunday
Don’t forget this week’s new ‘easy reader’ ebook ‘Io la conoscevo bene’ (I Knew Her Well). It’s part of our ‘eBook of the Classic Italian Movie’ series, and is 25% off the usual ‘easy reader’ ebook price of £7.99, so just £5.99. But only until Sunday 26th February.
The movie itself can be found on YouTube, here. Watching it is free, but if you have a budget for your Italian learning, why not get yourself a copy of our ebook version to read/listen to before you tackle the film?
Antonio Pietrangeli’s 1965 movie, ‘Io la conoscevo bene’, features Stefania Sandrelli as beautiful Adriana, an aspiring movie star who’s looking for something more than just a career on the screen…
Giovanni Galavotti’s re-telling of the story of the film for learners of Italian makes a great introduction before watching the movie itself (ideally in Italian!) Or it can be used simply as supplementary reading/listening material, guaranteed to liven up any study program!
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Did you, as I suggested on Monday, read/listen to Saturday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news?
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Laury Burr says
An interesting read, thanks! I will try out the video – nostalgically, no doubt. (I mean the honest one in Italian, even though I probably won’t follow all the dialogue!) We spent 10 days there back in 2018 – yes, it was busy, occasionally we had to wait for a free table and so on, but we loved it. A city without people would seem dead. And we, too, didn’t bother with FICO – the very notion seemed too overtly commercial, synthetic, bland when after all we were in “la grassa” with all its wonderful cuisine! (By sheer good fortune we were there at the right time for the Feast of St Petronius so, yes, lots of people!)
Lynne F says
Hi Daniel, I have visited Bologna 3 times so it can’t be that bad! It is a bustling city with lots of traffic, people and the restaurants always seem to be full but there are some more tranquil parts to enjoy, It is steeped in history which appealed to me. We didn’t make it to FICO with such a plethora of traditional restaurants and markets we didn’t feel the need to go. We celebrated the Christmas lights turn on, Notte blu, and the rising heat as summer approached. We even stumbled upon the language school in via Altabella, Thanks for sharing the videos and re-igniting my memories of Bologna. Yes, the one in Italian was difficult to follow but after your warning, I felt proud that it wasn’t all beyond my understanding! Hopefully, I will get to visit Bologna again
I watched video no captions..then I looked under the producers name on You Tube, I watched iit there with auto generated Italian captions…way better comprehension.
Auto-generated captions can be terribly bad. Confusing ‘sei’ the number and ‘sei’ the verb, for instance. I had them on for the first few minutes of the film I mentioned this week, but had to turn them off as they were such a distraction.
Good idea to check for the producer on Youtube to find more of his stuff. And/or scroll down the Facebook page I linked to, where there are tours of other cities.
Johan JVR says
Mi è piaciuto molto il video su Bologna. L’ anno scorso sono stato a Bologna, solo una mezza giornata perché avevano un vuolo da Bologna. Fortunadamente bastava per visitare San Petronio e mangiare la tagliatella al ragù. Anche sé Andrea parla velocemente, sono riuscito a capire il suo discorsi. Piú ho scoperto che lui fa lo stesso con altri città. Grazie mille per questi suggerimenti utile
Hi there Daniel,
You do a great job with your Italian lessons and assorted activities.
I love your affection for Bologna. We went there a few years ago with our son and grandchildren. My husband had a bad knee so we walked around the historic center very slowly! We lost our lively grandson for a while. It was incredibly hot. We got a huge ticket because we parked in the city center that was closed to measure vehicles, I guess,
It was worth it. A beautiful city., pleasant people, great history, great food. Hope I can someday attend your school, there..
Thanks for the videos and everything.
Sorry about the parking fine, Melissa. My first night in Bologna, my dad’s hired van got towed away (the trash collection truck couldn’t get by in the narrow street…) It wasn’t a great start!
Patricia A. Lenz says
The Andrea Lorenzon Bologna video is a gem!! A perfect example of, even if I didn’t understand every word– what a treat it is to “get it” and enjoy! Even some of the humor did not go over my head.
What fun. Thanks for the link. Its a keeper.
Bol.ogna…sounds, and is,damn good by his telling!!
Scroll down on that Facebook page and there are links to his other videos. Or as someone else suggested, search for him on YouTube.
Lynne F says
Like others, I was pleasantly surprised by my understanding of the Italian Video. As I do with Easy Italian News I listened 3 times, it is amazing how much more you pick up. There were still a few words I just couldn’t catch, so here is a useful tip to share.
At the bottom of the video go to SETTINGS this brings up 2 options QUALITY and PLAYBACK SPEED.
Ignore the first, and click on playback speed, The default setting is 1 .
Click on 0.75 it will slow the speed of the speech down without too much distortion.
You could try o.5 but that might just send you to sleep 🙂
Hope this helps
Michael Vitale says
I’ve been to Madrelingua four or five times, always enjoyed it — haven’t been out of Australia for years but am coming to Italy in June, mostly in Milan but if I can I will come to Bologna and say hello. I am a faithful reader of Easy Italian news and have just joined the club.
Anne McNeill says
Spent a week in Bologna in 2012 and stayed at a fantastic B&B.. It’s a beautiful city and was lucky enough to be given a personal guided tour by a local – a friend of one of my Sydney friends. The food, wine and gelato were excellent, but had to have a giggle at the sign opposite my favourite coffee spot:
“Ovine et Bovine”.