I spent the holidays in Bologna, Italy, which is the setting of several parts of my time-travel series, The Journeymen. It was my first trip to Europe, and it was amazing. So, instead of the usual January First-ish blog post about New Year’s resolutions and whatnot, I’d like to share a few things with you, my dear blogees, about the trip, if you’ll indulge me.
I had planned this trip all along as a research trip, to get a feel for Bologna and what it’s like. I’ve written the novels so far based on second hand information, albeit lovingly and painstakingly acquired to be as accurate as possible. But still… you can only learn so much from Google maps and travel blogs.
When you learn about a new place, people will tell you the big things–where to eat, visit, stay. But nobody tells you that so many people smoke cigarettes that the air permanently reeks of it, or how many people have dogs, and the dogs have better wardrobes than you.
Or that until you taste Bolognese food, you don’t realize how much garlic is NOT necessarily its own food group in Italy, and how good fresh, simple ingredients are. I’m looking at you, Ragu alla Bolognese.
By the way, speaking of food, McDonald’s needs to serve from the McItaly menu everywhere. I mean, burgers with fresh veggies on ciabatta buns, tiramisu and latte macchiatos… oh my. Yes, I traveled with two teenage sons, so McDonald’s and pizza were an integral part of survival there. I was grateful that it amounted to slightly better than mere survival.
I discovered in Italy, you can walk down an alley, knowing you’re going in more or less the right direction but not following a map or heading for anyplace in particular, and suddenly find a magnificent church or palazzo that is 800 years old and amazing. We often walked into a random church and marveled at the architecture and art that people walk past and ignore every day.
In fact, all I wanted to do in Bologna was wander aimlessly, on a treasure hunt of sorts. Turns out, it is a counter-intuitive truth that the more I walked, the less I wanted to eat. My sons noted immediately that nobody in Italy is fat. I pointed out the fresh veggie and pasta vendors and what we saw on menus, but there is more to it. In America, we have crappy processed food AND no place to see. I can’t imagine walking seven miles a day here. What is there to admire in suburban America within walking distance?
Another thing that surprised me was how I saw some of the most beautiful art ever created, including Michelangelo’s David, and yet, I stopped in awe at surprising things like fabulous doors and the architectural wonders at the end of alleyways.
So, forgive my brevity, but I wanted to tell you all a bit about my adventure and wish you a very Happy 2017. I’ll post pictures soon as the jet lag releases me and I get in the swing of being back. Releasing my first novel, Shadow of the Portico, is a high priority this year, and I hope you’ll stick with me through this shiny new year!