Work starts in Bologna
April 27,2008 Sunday
Verona – Bologna
We caught a train from Verona to Bologna and on our arrival at Bologna train station,noticed memorials to the 85 civilian victims of fascist terrorism on August 2, 1980. The victims’ names are arranged by families and by age on a large plaque beside a 3 foot crack in the wall by track one. Unlike the mostly professional World Trade Center victims, this day included 2 year olds traveling with their brothers and sisters and some young children traveling with their grandparents. I don’t remember the terrorism; it was far away and long ago, but in this place, every day, everyone who passes through here is reminded of the innocent families who were killed by terrorists.
From the convention’s description, we were expecting a Buy Emilia Romagna Welcome Desk. When we couldn’t find it, we asked at the train station’s information desk where there was a B.E.R. sign; and they told us how to get to our hotel on foot. Not exactly very welcoming but we walked to our hotel across a park and by a medieval gate and down several arcaded blocks in about 10 minutes. In the lobby is a B.E. R. welcome desk where we pick up our information package including our schedule for the next three days.
In our spacious room is a big basket of fruit wrapped in cellophane with a big gold bow.
We hoped to get acquainted with the city before our opening session, but we had trouble with the hotel’s internet connection and had to spend the free time at an internet café.
We met our first fellow conventioneers in the hotel bar where the director of the hotel welcomed us with prosecco and aperitvi, then walked en masse to the city center and at City Hall, we were welcomed to Bologna by the Minister of the Office of Tourism and his deputies and marketing representatives who did a long slide show depicting the reasons every tourist in Italy must visit Emilia Romagna, this region.
We wondered what other visitors had been so warmly welcomed to Bologna in past centuries in this medieval frescoed reception hall. It was here we met Cyndi from the Midwestern U.S. who now lives near Ravenna with her Italian husband. We’d corresponded before the conference and were anxious to meet her. Near the Neptune fountain by the City Hall doors, we’d already met up with Cathy, a friend we’d met in Galicia last year at a conference designed to acquaint tour operators with that area in Northwestern Spain. Kirk and the three girls walked to Donatello, a restaurant over 100 years old where we met others in our group. There are some other interesting characters we’d met before but most faces are new and it’s really fun finding out what part of the globe each person is from. Russia, Spain, Germany, France, Argentina, were all represented and we tried to ascertain in which language we could communicate best. Dinner started with mortadella and prosciutto de parma slices and chunks of Parmigianino Reggiano cheese drizzled generously with thick, sweet, 20 year-old balsamic vinegar from Modena. Then came a plate with a little piece of lasagna and a squiggle of green and yellow gramigna (pasta) with salsiccia then scaloppini of pork topped with arugula. We got better acquainted with lots of new friends with whom we strolled up to the Piazza Maggiore then down to see the unfinished cathedral and the famous leaning twin towers of Bologna.