by Olivia Vega ’04
If I could bottle Bologna it would be a perfume
Of coffee, espresso, pouring out of each and every café and bar
Water from the tap in the kitchen, aqua dalla spina
And the shower in my bathroom with an open window and a view of the garden and terrazzo below
It would include the cool and soft scent of the Gelateria flavors of the day of marscarpone, fragole, stracciatella, and limone
And the sweet, dolce, smell of the wood burning stoves in the Pizzerie warming the blocks, tiles, and noses of those fortunate to stroll by
It would have just a hint, a whiff, of cigarette smoke following its owner gingerly and cooly down the strada, and blend with the cologne of diesel as trucks and their drivers make their way through the day
It would resemble brick buildings and grand arches of porticos protecting its people by keeping them dry in rain and shaded in sun
It would of course include the Osteria or restaurant built before its neighbor Basilica San Petronio sung its first Mass
Both still standing as if military officers at their post as people, la gente, whirl around them and through them for centuries upon centuries on end
It would be full of windows brimming in castro, perfectly placed like puzzle pieces of exquisite garments displayed as gems with piccoli prezzi, small signs marking the cost of each treasure, tesoro
It would include a couple gifted with time walking arm in arm slowly, steadily, with purpose and poise down the street on their way to dinner, church, the grocery store, the market, or a long slow, lungo e lento, Sunday lunch with the family.
And my Italian Mom, Mia Mamma Italiana, as she fixes her son’s tie, cravatta, with precision and care in the minutes before heading to the church to meet his bride
It would echo the music of my shoes clicking along the polished stone, bouncing off the archways greeting me each step
The rain hitting terracotta tiles washing them of their sins,
Birds singing a song with a sweet and joyful melody previously foreign to my ears,
Children speaking in fretta, quickly, con vivace, with life like one of my favorite waltzes by Fermo Dante Marchetti.
It would include the sounds of my own voice as I chiacchierare, chat with my friends, amici, in Italian as words spring from my center like water bubbling up from the great Fontana Nettuno, Neptune Fountain in the center of town, splashing, and swirling away.
But a city is not meant to be bottled.
It is meant to live, move, change, cambiare, grow, crescere, and be enjoyed by generations to come
I hope you can come
Sit as I sat on a mattone, brick, in Piazza Maggiore
Watch people as they walk by
And realize how wonderful it is to be alive
Here in Bologna, Qua a Bologna
Read more from the fall 2015 issue of Dickinson Magazine.
Published November 13, 2015