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Phespirit goes to Italy
Cattolica     May 2007

AROUND ITALY

Map of Italy

1 Bologna

The basilica, cathedral and churches of Bologna have the edge on its museums as places of general interest. Santo Stefano and the Basilica di San Petronio are top-drawer religious attractions.

At the Basilica, a security guard forbade Phespirit from taking his rucksack inside. What should he do? Phespirit simply transferred the complete contents into his trouser pockets - causing them to bulge obscenely - then placed the empty rucksack at the guard's feet and proceeded through the security barriers. How pointless.

Bologna does have its secular delights. In the Collezioni Comunali d'Arte, housed in the Palazzo Comunale, Phespirit took a liking to 'Ruth' by Francesco Hayez (1791-1882), but regrettably he did not have enough time to squeeze in the Pinacoteca Nazionale - home to Bologna's finest art collection.

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2 Ravenna

It was a stupendously hot day when Phespirit visited Ravenna. He passed an electronic sign outside a pharmacist's shop that stated the temperature to be 39°C. Phespirit doubts whether it was quite so high in reality; the sign had probably been driven insane by the intense heat.

Ravenna's ancient walls have long since disappeared but its gates still survive. During the course of his considerable roving, Phespirit visited them all: Porta Sisi (1568-1649); Portonaccio (1785); Porta San Mama (1612-1615); Porta Adriana (1583); Porta Gaza (1750); Porta Pamphilia (1653); and Porta Serrata (1582-1650).

They provide a neat join-the-dots perimeter for the old centre.

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3 Rimini

Map in hand, Phespirit dutifully followed a route of his own design that guided him around all the main tourist attractions of Rimini.

By the time this route reached the coast, he had been walking for five hours in temperatures of 28°C, so for respite he headed down to the edge of the sea and had a paddle. It has been suggested to Phespirit that these days only "old people" roll up their trousers to have a paddle. Well, Phespirit isn't getting any younger and as he didn't have any beach gear with him, paddling was his only option.

In the burning heat of midday, vanity must come second.

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4 Cattolica

Phespirit's Achilles heel - at home or abroad - is his abysmal diet. White meat, white fish, bland potato, bread, cheese and eggs are all fine; red meat, oily fish, green vegetables, onions, mushrooms, and pretty much anything spicy are all unpalatable .....

Tragically, this means that even if Phespirit goes to a country with a reputation for fine cuisine, he still ends up dining in places such as 'The Pirate' pub in Cattolica with its menu designed specifically for refugees from English tour groups.

Phespirit enjoying dining at The Pirate. The food is honest and the service is excellent, but he remained mildly ashamed to be eating grilled chicken and chips in the local pub when all about him were authentic Italian restaurants.

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5 Pesaro

Just as Rimini was Phespirit's gateway to San Marino, so Pesaro was his gateway to Urbino.

No doubt Pesaro has innumerable fascinating qualities to admire, but Phespirit arrived by train, departed by bus, and saw nothing in between.

A pity, really.

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6 Urbino

Urbino is a Renaissance city; a city of art and beauty, stuffed with concealed treasures.

Before visiting other Italian cities, Phespirit planned walking tours that shuttled him between places of historic or artistic interest. In Urbino, however, every street, every wall, every doorway and back alley is a brush stroke in the higher work that is the city itself. It's a bit like Venice in that respect. Urbino is art with art within art.

NOTE: please excuse the pretentious gushing - some places just have that effect.

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  1. Bologna
  2. Ravenna
  3. Rimini
  4. Cattolica
  5. Pesaro
  6. Urbino
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Bologna Ravenna Rimini Cattolica Pesaro Urbino