I was standing in the bathroom…the sun wasn’t quite awake yet, but I was; I was very awake and almost ready to leave the house–my dreams ended where my alarm began–I opened the window in my bathroom to feel the cool air and see the sleepy moon before he went to sleep for the day. While I stood there enjoying the quiet morning and preparing for the day, right outside my window I heard the ringing theme of all things Potter. I knew any minute now an owl was going to fly through my window with a letter from the headmaster, summoning my geeky genius and skills for some adventure.
Obviously, the death eaters’ interception is the only reasonable explanation for the absent owl.
I left the house and headed for the train station; Hogwarts Express’s Italian cousin was coming to pick up Cate and me for our adventures as first years, in Bologna! We had a cart to ourselves most of the ride, except when two students from Slytherin decided to crash our cart party and only speak sneeringly in parseltongue.
We arrived in excitement for the new knowledge and adventures that lay ahead of us. I pulled out my map to lead us to our hostel and we began walking. It was Saturday and there were lots of people wandering the alleys and shopping the streets full of stores. We walked to what we thought was the right street and found number 4, but our hostel wasn’t there. Pulling pranks on first years are the best; somebody switched our map with one of Fred and George’s joke shop maps. We finally realized that we were on the wrong street, puzzling over the wrong number 4, so after walking in circles, we used some of our beginner’s magic to point us to the right alley. We read the numbers down the alley: 1…2…3…3/2…3/2a…3/2b…5…5a… As first years, we were a little confused that number 4 wasn’t there, but, of course, it must be hidden from the Muggles. Through the other side of the wall we went, to find number 4 right where it was supposed to be. We had arrived!
We roamed through the porticoes–lining the city–admiring the architecture and history of such a place. We found the great educational hall where many, now and long ago, studied to become great and powerful in the way of knowledge. Believed to be founded in 1088, it is the oldest existing University in Europe. Geniuses, inventors, and masterminds like Luigi Galvani and Guglielmo Marconi studied there and walked the streets where we were now walking.
Is this real life? Yes. Wow.
While we were roaming the city, we kept seeing large groups of police hiding behind buildings with their weapons and shields, ready for battle. We were starting to feel startled after we kept finding them blocking many streets and hiding, like Voldemort was about to apparate right there in the center of Bologna. We couldn’t avoid them for much longer; we crossed through the ready warriors and there they were: protesting deatheaters. They were marked with the sign and seeking change. We got a good look then snuck away, knowing the ministry of magic had this under control; there was no way Voldemort was going to show his ugly face tonight, but just in case, we wandered over to sit under the protection of the Patron Saint of Bologna: Saint Petronius. It was a cool evening and the piazza was full of smiles and giggles. We each bought a butterbeer, without the butter, and sat in contentment, sipping our beers and people watching, right there on Petronius’ steps.
Next morning, we traveled to the Two Towers–I have not confused my Harry Potter story with a Frodo Baggins story, but the world of fantasy is everywhere. The taller tower is called Asinelli and the shorter tower is called Garisenda. Garisenda Tower is leaning towards Asinelli, also causing them to be called the kissing towers. Asinelli Tower is the taller of the two and the tallest tower in the whole of Italy, reaching 97 meters high or about 318 feet high. We paid the tower master and climbed up the 498 steps to the top. It was cloudy so we couldn’t see to the foothills of the Alps in Veneto but we could see plenty of beauty all around. This tower is only one of a few left standing in the city today. There were thought to be around 180 towers standing in Bologna back in the 12th century when this one was built; it sounds towerrific to me!
It was time to go home; already finished a semester at Hogwarts: Bologna?…felt like two days to me.
We loaded up on the train with one last beer, no butter, to celebrate this experience.
Until next time.
*This is a true story based on real events. I have only fictionalized this story by using terms such as: Hogwarts, death-eaters, Slytherin, parseltongue, Muggles, Voldemort, Ministry of Magic, and my reference to Fred and George’s joke shop map, which are all part of a copyrighted story by J.K. Rowling–you go girl!
On the train
University of Bologna
St. Petronius’ Church
Tower of Asinelli
Some of the 498 steps in the Tower of Asinelli
View from the top of the Tower
Ride home: it’s not over until it’s over!