June 16, 2013
I just can’t look at the word Bologna without singing “Oscar Meyer has a way with B. O. L. O. G. N. A.” I do think this Bologna is a little nicer than the pasty looking lunch meat though. I was so excited to come here knowing it was the foodie capital of Italy- but did it live up to my expectations? Let’s discuss…
Well to start, our apartment we stayed in was great. It was very close to the Main Street in town, tons of space and best of all… air conditioning. This was a welcome treat after our sweaty, itchy night in Venice and also helped considering it was about 234 degrees outside. Our first night out was not spectacular though. We went to a restaurant very near our apartment that was rated highly on Trip Advisor and Yelp. My food was great but Andrew’s was terrible. His quote was “I’ve had better lasagna out of a microwave packet”. We ordered a piadina which had been recommended by our friend Simona and also our first host Andrea. It’s mean to be the Bologna version of a calzone… Pizza type dough filled with cheese and or meat. What we got was a plain, bland,dry pizza crust and that’s all. I’ve had much better pizza type bread in Australia and the US. We also got a ridiculous 10% charge just for sitting out on the patio- we did not see this at any other restaurant in all of Italy. Freaking joke. If you’re ever in Bologna do NOT go to Ristorante Victoria… I wish we had stuck to the recommendations given by the locals, our mistake. After dinner we went for a wander around the city. What we found was a lot of graffiti, even on beautiful OLD buildings and druggy looking 20 somethings passed out on the street at 9:30pm.
However… other parts of it were beautiful!
Our second day was better. We walked around town, visited the Two Towers of Bologna, built in 1116(!!!) and climbed the 500 steps to get to the top of the tallest one. It was tough but much easier than I anticipated (climbing 7 flights of stairs at my office seems more strenuous), yet it was pretty scary. I’m not usually afraid of heights but this view on the way up gave me a bit of vertigo and it didn’t help to think about the fact that the second tower had to stop being built because faulty engineering meant it was leaning way too much. I could just picture the news headlines… medieval tower in Italy collapses, tourists feared dead.
The view from the top was well worth the hike up and the fear!
We then visited Basilica Santo Stefano. This is a religious complex, parts of it dating back to the 5th century! It was one of the most impressive things we saw in Bologna.
Afterwards we were starving and decided to get lunch at a supermarket that had super fresh produce and salads. We bought tortelloni, a few salads, strawberries, bread and a REAL piadina (which we both really liked by the way). We came beck to our hotel and whipped up the tortelloni with some butter sauce and fresh cherry tomatoes and I was in heaven. So amazing! It was definitely one of our favourite meals and it came from a supermarket! It was probably the only one that warranted the “foodie capital” hype.
Our dinner that night consisted of wine, beer, cocktails, and more wine. We were so full from lunch that we thought we’d go have a few drinks and then a late dinner but at 9-10pm we were still so full (I’m sure the drinks played a part in that) that we decided to just skip dinner altogether. In our defense we did have an appertivo (happy hour) special where we got some pizza focaccia so we did actually eat something other than booze, just not a proper dinner. We also met some foreigners who took us to a gelato place after our drinks. I had one sample and when I asked for one more they said no. Evidently there is a one tasting rule and after many wines, I wasn’t a huge fan of this rule so I walked out of the shop sans gelato. It’s ok because we made up for it by visiting the #1 rated gelato place in Bologna, Cremeria Cavour. The “New York” maple and praline pecan was amazing but the pistachio (while super creamy) actually lacked a bit of flavour. I’d go back again for the maple pecan, it was divine.
For lunch today we went to a restaurant recommended but the girl we met the night before called Ca’ pelleti. It was definitely good, but I wouldn’t write home about it (or maybe I am writing home about it now). Definitely not foodie capital worthy, even if it was tasty.
Probably the most exciting thing that happened in Bologna was finding out that my nephew got braces. Note to self, maybe don’t drunk dial the sister and fam while overseas. I probably should not be exposing my 13 year old nephew to my drunk ways. The beautiful food markets we found right before we were about to leave would have been really exciting too if we would have found them a few hours earlier. Such a shame, they looked amazing.
Now it’s bye bye Bologna and off to Florence!