Orion's Photos: places - Europe - 2005 - 2005_07_18_bologna_italy
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Sunday, July 17 2005, we left Swizerland for Bologna, Italy. Driving is incredibly hectic in Italy, the signage is barely adequate, and gasoline (benzina) is incredibly expensive. In retrospect, it would have been easier and cheaper to take the train. The freeways are pretty decent (except for the traffic), but we joked that the state and local roads are clearly built along goat paths.
The roads in Italy are almost perfectly maintained (flawless asphalt, probably because of the frequent road construction!), but wind around every house, barn, field, and tree that exists along the path, and are constructed at about 50% scale compared to America (i.e., a typical two-way road looks like a one-way American lane). This wouldn't be so bad if traffic were slow and calm, but car, busses, and trucks flow continually at incredible speeds--about 2 or 3 times faster than we were accustomed to--and with incredible vehemence. Motorcycles will pass on the right, drive the wrong way up one-way streets, and thread past traffic stopped at a red light in order to zoom through the still-red light. If somebody's trapped behind you on the winding curves for more than a few seconds, they weave (like an angry hornet) in the lane until passing is theoretically possible.
Monday and Tuesday I visited CINECA, a high-performance computing center funded by a consortium of universities in Italy and beyond. CINECA was interested in Charm++, the parallel programming project I worked on during graduate school.
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights, we stayed at the TOP Park Hotel Bologna, which is in neither Bologna (as the name would imply) nor Pianoro (as they state on their website and literature), but in fact is in a little industrial area just north of Pianoro on SS65. We found the fastest way to reach the hotel from Bologna was to take the tollway A1 to Sasso Marconi, then follow the winding highway through the mountains to the Pianoro area. Just be sure to turn left (north) onto the straight road before crossing the bridge into Pianoro, or like us, you'll drive into, up and down the town of Pianoro searching in vain for the hotel. The hotel was quite nice, with an excellent and reasonably priced restaurant. Rooms in decent hotels in Italy seem to have several standard features: TV with pay-per-view, bidet, minibar, and some sort of bizarre electronic controls in the room. The Bologna hotel had an in-room radio. The hotels in Empoli and Treviso had a roomkey-based authentication system for the lights: to keep the lights on, you need to leave your room key in a reader built into the wall.
All images taken by Orion Lawlor
and placed completely in the public domain.
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