Mille Miglia, Bologna

The Mille Miglia is one of the most famous classic car races in the world. As a participant in the Blogville project in Bologna, I got to hang out in the VIP area. It was an opportunity to get close to the sort of cars that I’d recently drooled over in Modena’s Ferrari museum.

Some of us even got to stamp the route cards of the drivers. We jumped at the chance. And not just one car, but a steady stream of the most beautiful cars I’d ever laid eyes on. Alfa Romeos, Ferraris, Maseratis, Lamborghinis, along with BMWs and lovely old Austins, all screeched to a halt in front of us. Their drivers – many in Dick Dastardly racing hats with goggles – waved their cards impatiently, then sped off again, heading for Modena.

The smell of petrol was intense, the atmosphere electric, the sense of excitement and the rush of adrenalin was shared by all of us. By the time we got back to Blogville, we were almost too giddy to eat. We headed for bed, grateful to have had such an exciting day.

For whom the bell tolls

I had no idea what the time was, but in the middle of the night I woke up because my bed was shaking. Then I heard the church bell ring. Noone was ringing it. The bell was ringing because the belltower, where I was sleeping, was moving. I was far too sleepy-headed to realise this at first. But once I joined the other bloggers in the kitchen, Frankie made sense of that random ‘ringing’. The only one who’d slept through it was baby Tuuli. In spite of the strangeness of it all, and the fact that none of us had experienced an earthquake, we were remarkably calm.

But was that the end of it? or would there be another one? What should we do? It was so quiet outside – no screaming, no sirens – so, assuming it was over, we headed back to bed.

I don’t know what time it was when it happened again, but once more the bed shook, and the bell rang. This time, as I lay in my bed, I started to consider what the best plan of action would be if the roof caved in. Should I turn my bed over and get under the mattress? Perhaps I could drag the mattress under the desk so that there would something between me and falling masonry. We’d discussed that it’s better to stay indoors as there’s less chance of getting hit by collapsing walls. I was thankful that I had a bottle of water close by as, if I was going to die of anything, it could be dehydration.  Cheery thoughts. Then the shaking stopped and, exhausted, I fell asleep as the next thing I knew the baby had woken up. Time to get up.

We knew there had been an earthquake and quite a big one, but we were OK. Perhaps it was relief, and my own ‘aftershock’ but as I merrily tweeted photos of yesterday’s race, I hadn’t considered that there may have been a less happy scenario elsewhere.

Blogville’s ‘Master of the House’, Nick, tweeted to ask if we were OK. I blithely responded ‘Tutto bene, era solo un terremoto. Beviamo il te’. As the twitter feeds came through, it became clear that Ferrara had suffered several building collapses and five people had been killed. Thoughts of the tragedy of Aquila in 2009, when over 300 people died, were high in many Italians’ minds. It could have been so much worse…

Bologna doorway

It’s been quiet today. It’s a Sunday but there’s a feeling in the air that we were lucky. As I walked past the San Rocco church there were several lit candles in the space reserved for ‘I Morti’.

I decided to do a canal walk. Something that would take me around the city and remind me that this was a city that had existed for centuries. I wandered past churchgoers and dog-walkers, an old man sleeping in a doorway, and noisy kids arguing about football. All served to remind me that it will go on surviving a lot longer.

BolognaWhat a difference 24 hours can make. But I was strangely glad to have been part of downs, as well as ups, of this beautiful city, even for a short time.

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