My travel mate reckons house painting would be a dull job in Bologna. The buildings are all painted in the same muted shades of peach, apricot, banana and a paté brown.
From the roof top bar of Hotel Touring we see millions of rounded, faded terracotta tiles on the rooves of the houses that interpret the undulations of the land and are interrupted every so often by grand churches, important civic buildings and pencil pines. Spectacular is an overused word and does not explain the sensory delight of the palette of Bologna.
We have to leave but I MUST visit the Morandi permanent exhibition at the new MAMbo museum. It is Tuesday and yesterday on our first attempt to see the show we were advised that the MAMbo is not open on Mondays. Our train to Florence departs at 11.50 so we are at the museum door by 9.30 for the apparent 10am opening. The guy at the desk says without apology “we are not open till noon.” My back is UP! I start to moan and whinge – we are from Australia, we must catch the train, we will never again return to Bologna and never see Morandi’s work. A school group is being shown through – I beg to join them? No you can not be unaccompanied.
Suddenly from nowhere there is a breakthrough Senior No’s co worker approaches and feels my pain. She is sorry the guide books gave the indication that the gallery opens at 10 – it used to – but the state of the Italian economy has reduced the opening hours. Oh! I wail and repeat that I will probably never return to Bologna. (Pretty sure my travel mate thinks I’m overdoing it.) My protestations have found a friendly ear and a kind soul. “I will take you through,” she says and while I don’t cry, I would like to kiss her!
Morandi’s work was groundbreaking. There is a freshness in the paint work that makes one think it could have been painted this very morning. His simple compositions of bowls, bottles and vases have an ethereal quality, they are spare, sensual and evoke a great sense of calm.
Morandi (1890-1964) lived and died in Bologna and did not venture far from his city. Known primarily for his still lifes, his work inspired artists and writers in his time and ever since.
Later on the train it strikes me his palette was that of his city – muted tones of peach, apricot, banana, muddy paté brown and faded terracotta.