The brilliant mid-winter sun beat down on Piazza Maggiore in the heart of Bologna’s old town. For once tourists and locals thronged together because on a Saturday like this, just before Christmas, the square was irresistible to everyone. All around the Piazza stood the town’s proud heritage: statues, churches, libraries. Each of the tens of buildings around the vast square was an incredible edifice in its own right, but all together they dazzled in their medieval marble and brick glory.

But the focus was not on the buildings. In the square were a variety of rescue, police, and military vehicles. A giant crane. An armored personnel carrier. Young ladies in smart berrets with assault rifles at ease by their waists. A father handed his toddler up to an officer who stood on a rescue boat. The boat in turn rested on its trailer, parked on the marble pavers. “How did they get that thing in here?” He thought. The child was all smiles as the officer held him aloft amongst the civic finery.

He approached the giant church that faced the square and a soldier assured him it was open. Construction on the church had begun in the 14th century, and it rose to become the 10th largest church in the world. So no one much noticed it and he had the aircraft-hanger like space all to himself. After he had his fill of silence he went back outside to find a rescue demonstration under way. An 80 meter circle was cordoned off, and inside the ring firefighters wrapped a mannequin in blankets and gave it mouth to mouth. Eminem’s vigorous hit “Lose yourself” blared from the event speakers:

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime you better…