Monday, November 08, 2021

Florence To Bologna

Distance is like, an illusion, man.

Joke, but a friend who lives in Florence (Firenze for you fancy people) told an amusing story. Italy built a high speed train line from Milan to Salerno (via Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples) fully completed around 2009. It's genuinely fast. Milan to Rome in 2:45 (6+ hours driving time). But the intermediate stops made a big difference too.

Looking on a map, Florence and Bologna don't appear to be that far apart. 50 miles "crow flies" distance. But there's thick range of mountains in between. Driving time is 2+ hours and conceptually/historically/politically, the two cities were always just in different worlds. 2 hours is a long way in Europe, and of course pre-car/pre-modern road it was a LOOOOOOONG WAAAAAY. Italy's a moden fiction, really.

But then high speed line begins service. Suddenly Bologna is a 38 minute not very expensive ride, almost entirely through a tunnel. The "funny story" is her talking with a local about various airport travel strategies, and she mentioned that sometimes she goes to the Bologna airport for more convenient/cheap flights, depending on the destination. The local started laughing and said, "My whole life, Bologna was so far away, that just never occurred to me, but of course."

Bologna: home of Mortadella.