Bolissimo: Experiencing the Heart of Bologna

Your true beauty spot isn’t the one on your face but the one inside of you – your heart.

Bologna Gazing

We discovered a taste of real beauty yesterday as we arrived in Bologna. It was late in the afternoon. We had walked over thirty kilometres up and down hills since the morning, through high summer heat.

Climbing to the top of the hill that the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca, then walking down into Bologna after a day of walking through heat left us tired and exhausted.

Our last challenge before entering Bologna was climbing the steep slope up from the town of Casalecchio Di Reno to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. This basilica church situated atop a three hundred metre forested hill overlooks the city of Bologna.

From here we made our way down a monumental roofed arcade that went on for 3.8 kilometres, leading us through the old city gates and into Bologna.


Weaving our way through beautiful shaded narrow laneways where around every corner there was a new discovery, even in my tired state was a delight. We passed a church which was the headquarters of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Bologna. Being of Maltese heritage this was of particular interest.

The group of pilgrims became quite stretched out as some of the group fell behind from tiredness and exhaustion, not to mention aching muscles and sore feet. To keep the group together, we at the front slowed down and sat in front of an old church on a street corner.

The 3.8km covered arcade walkway that took us to the gates of the old city of Bologna.


Looking tired, hot and exhausted we must have looked like a sorry bunch. Unaware of who we were, where we had come from, where we were going, a man out of nowhere had been watching us sit on the ground exhausted.

While we were nursing sore feet and moaning with aches and pains he came across the street with a tray filled with cups of ice cold Coca Cola offering them to us. The header image shows the man in front of his Tabbaccheri.

This had an immediate affect upon us. It took us from self-pity to a deep sense of gratitude within seconds. This simple act of kindness, with no thought of gain had left a great impression on us.

Not only had the city of Bologna intrigued and excited us with its beauty, this one simple act of kindness opened us up to the beauty of human kindness.

Soul Gazing

While we were indulging in self-pity at sore feet, while we were sole-gazing, this simple act had the effect of connecting us to another soul.

It is so easy in modern life for us to feel isolated. Even more so if we spend too much time indulging in our own selves we may slide into depression, anxiety and negativity.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta headquarters in Bologna was an intricate and beautiful building.

Selfless Acts

Acts of kindness can help dispel self-pity, depression, anxiety and other negative states as they take us away from ourselves and help us gain a bigger perspective in the company of others.

Selfless acts can help us find greater joy and connection, especially when we do feel isolated.


A soul grows through the interaction with others. There are moments when we need self-reflection, yet when this turns to compulsive obsessive self-pity our soul is in danger of withering. It thrives on interaction and connection with others. It is through selfless acts that we can find ourselves, who we truly are and made of.

Detail of Sovereign Military Order of Malta Headquarters building in Bologna.


Soul connection dispels that feeling of isolation that can happen when we drown in our own selves, our problems and issues. We often feel that we are the only one going through something and that nobody understands us. Being the giver of kindness and even the recipient can help create soulidarity and help us to realise that we aren’t ever alone, but all one.


When we reset our compass so that it isn’t pointing inwards, but instead, it is squarely set outwards into the world we are able to interact with that world and find connection with it.

Connection in that it can help us connect to new ways and perspectives of our own issues, and experiencing joy that comes from connecting at a soul level with others. When we connect at a soul level through works of heart that we perform all peripheral differences melt away and we discover we are all one.


Bologna became more beautiful to us because of this one simple yet profound act of kindness.

We discovered the real beauty of people. It is what we see on the surface that often separates us, but the beauty that comes from within, from the heart, can unite.

Come Passion

When we connect to this beauty through selfless acts, a great energy and passion wells inside of oneself. So much so, that our aches and pains, our problems and issues, disappear, if not for a while at least.

Have you ever noticed that when we navel gaze too long we feel isolated, depressed, and listless?  Yet, when we soul gaze into another, when we give ourselves permission to perform heartfelt acts of kindnes,  it gives us an opportunity to experience the spark of energy that this creates.

The exhausted and weary pilgrims at the steps of a church in Bologna.


Belissimo as you may already know means very beautiful. Not just beautiful, but very beautiful. The Italians have such a way with words. The energy for life, the gusto, is expressed in the way they speak and move their hands when speaking. The issimo on the end of an adjective tends to amplify it.


This same gusto, energy or love for the beauty of life can be yours simply by remembering that greater joy and connection is simply a selfless act of kindness away.

Issimo Your Life

There are many ways to add issimo to your life. The most fulfilling is to foster greater compassion, empathy and kindness. Simple acts can have a profound effect, as we found out sitting on the steps of a church in the beautiful city of Bologna.


What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    When Mary and I were students many moons ago we hitched a lift with a lorry driver to Sienna.
    As we approached the city he took both hands of the steering wheel raised them aloft and proclaimed Belissimo .
    What heart and passion these people have.

    • David Cuschieri

      Yes I love the gusto in which they live life! It is infectious. It makes consider my own life and if there isn’t more room for greater passion and excitement in each day.