June 3

    We hated to leave the beauty of Iseo and the lake country, but we haven’t seen quite all of Italy yet. So we drove a long way (for us): 103 miles to Modena. The campground there is practically within the cloverleaf exit of the Autostrada--lots of traffic noise, but great wifi. We rode our bikes the 3 miles into the city. (It was Sunday, so the traffic wasn’t too bad.)  And we ended up riding the bike path around the old city center and riding into “Ferrari/Maserati Days,” featuring a group pretending to race about a 10th of a mile along city streets, vintage cars reving motors and backfiring and delighting the mostly older men crowding around. 

    The next day we drove to Bologna, where the campground has been modernized quite a bit: Good sanitary blocks/sites separated by bushes/nice restaurant/ open pool. But there were few places to get water and the only place for us to hook up a hose was at the dump, which was configured in a way we couldn’t use. So we just didn’t bother with either. (A heads-up for those of our readers thinking of taking their American RV to Europe: although we have been pleasantly surprised by how many campgrounds have had dump stations that accommodate the American-style black and gray water tanks, and while we can also often find one at the big truck stops on the Autostradas, still we’ve found it best to use a dump when we find one  rather than wait until our tanks are full before searching one out.) 

    Bologna is a beautiful city once you get into the old city center. Many of the buildings are built with long arched porches / colannades / galleries across the front. (There are 25 miles of these covered galleries in this city!)  They are about 12 feet wide, wide enough to walk comfortably side by side and still pass other walkers . . . and no motorcycles or cars are under them. They would be a great place to be on a rainy day.



    Bologna is a university town and has a history of left-wing, even Communist, local government (there’s a street named after the WWII Battle of Stalingrad, for instance). We arrived in the city center just in time for the sort of rally you’d expect of such a place: anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, with lots of flags and shouting and police standing around the edges. It was right in the square in front of the unfinished exterior of their wonderful basilica. It is the 5th largest in Italy and had been planned to be even bigger than St Peter’s at the Vatican when finished, until a Pope decided it was big enough and had a university built in its way. It is obviously unfinished on the outside, but the inside is bright and clean and contains a wonderful meridian line that marks time and helped to discover the need for a leap year day for our calendar (so we’re told, but we had precious little astronomy in our education, so we’re taking it on faith). We missed seeing the sun shine on the line because (of course) the building closes like everything else for early afternoon naps.


    This city also boasts two leaning towers--in fact, 22 towers, built by competing wealthy families in the 12th and 13th centuries, have survived. 

    We decided to stay a third night as June 3 is Italy’s Independence Day, since we knew much of the city would be open. (Also, our experience driving on May Day, another holiday, had convinced us not to be going anywhere near a coast on a holiday.) On that day we saw another pro-Palestinian rally blocking the streets, and we walked around a huge open air market.  

    Then we headed toward Ravenna. The city has no campground, so we ended up a few  miles away, on the Adriatic Sea again . . . this time in a campground that has a nudist section. We were asked at reception if we wanted “naturist or textiles?”  Well, shoot….  Since it was in the 60’s and raining, and also because our children are reading this blog, we opted for textiles. As a result, we have yet to see a single nude individual, even on the beach where the most visible things were the off shore oil rigs.   However, all was not lost, for the site had water and a dump station we made use of right away. (Once again,the water we are finding is wonderful. We do use a filter on the hose before we put it into our fresh water tank, and so far we have not had any problems.) However, the bus that the guidebook had assured us would take us into Ravenna had been permanently cancelled, so we were forced to take a day off: a cool day of relaxation alongside a nudist camp. We’ll drive into the city tomorrow, find a place to park, get our fill of Byzantine mosaics, and move on.