Today though I cross over to the COIN department store at Via de'Carbonesi, n. 7, between Via D'Azeglio and Via D'Aposa. It is not just any normal department store though. I enter through the heavy doors into what was once a seventeenth century palazzo and, although shopping would certainly be enjoyable, I approach the ruins of a Roman Theater that form the emporium's centerpiece. Just as in a museum, a portion of the external front of a Roman Theater from the Republican Period rises up. From the railing on the first floor one looks down into its rocky foundation. I short walk down the steps that circle it, allows me to look at the remains that lie visible under the specially designed transparent floor. Other portions form a part of the Men's and the House Furnishings Departments. While I glance at the merchandise, I notice the pieces of the past so graciously displayed and sense the incongruity of intersecting times and spaces so seemingly distinct. Then I keep in mind what I have set out to do today -- encounter the layers of Bologna's history in the neighborhood -- and realize that in a very practical, everyday way, this place represents just that idea of history.
Roman Bononia's theater would have been located near the southern confines of the city. A full semi-circle in shape, about 75 meters in diameter, it opened to the north. From its architectural characteristics its age has been ascertained from between 120 and 80 BC. At least one significant phase of reconstruction was thought to have occurred during Imperial Rome, during the time of Nero (first century AD). Various other remains had been found as early as the sixteenth century in the neighborhood. In the 1980's actual proof surfaced regarding the theater that lay underneath modern Via de'Carbonesi, including the whole block from Via D'Azeglio, Via D'Aposa and Viccolo Spirito Santo.
Outside the exit I immediately enter into the doorway to my left, leaving behind thoughts of Roman Bologna, and enter into the chocolate world of Majani. Since 1796, the renowned chocolate factory has created the melt-in-your mouth cioccolatini that have enslaved me, an avowed non-chocoholic. My favorite is the Fiat Cremino, a layered, dice-shaped chunk of chocolate, almond and hazelnut cream, wrapped elegantly in foil with a band of shiny white paper, and a royal blue rising sun and Fiat resplendently stamped on top. I purchase my supply and unwrap one impatiently. I place it reverently into my mouth and savor unashamedly the exquisite rich creaminess as it melts down slowly, slowly into only an scrumptous afterglow. Whew . . . thank goodness I'm not a chocoholic!
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