July 1, 2013 by Dan
Bologna may have the best food in the world. Or so they say. We had heard good things, so we planned to spend the better part of two days there, hanging out and eating. Grant and Ellen dropped us off at a train station early in the morning on Monday, and we joined a horde of office workers and schoolchildren on their way to their mornings. The train was crowded enough for us to need to hang out in the linkage for a bit, but eventually everyone bailed out and we were able to sit and enjoy our croissants.
The sun was shining as we exited the train station, and after a few minutes of casting about we figured out where we were going.
“It’s so warm,” I said. “I might wear shorts later.”
“No way,” said Julie.
“I’m serious,” I said. It was. Almost seventy degrees at ten in the morning. We walked a little ways on porticoed sidewalks until we reached the center of town, where the map on our handy Rough Guide said our hotel was. One minor problem: the map in our handy Rough Guide was completely wrong. The address was right, but the street was so small it wasn’t marked on the book map, or on the small maps in the window of the tourist office. But, at least there was a tourist office, with a helpful woman behind the counter who happily pointed out exactly where our hotel was; around the corner, two blocks away.
A quick cleanup, and we started to explore. Oddly enough, Bologna has its own leaning towers – not quite as pretty as the more well-known one in Pisa, but they still lean.
And the folks there are really into smoking.
But really, it was a quiet town of cobblestone alleys and piazzas with tables spilling out everywhere.
Compared to the crowds of Florence and the cool weather of Parma, it was heaven. We ate outside, happily slurping on tortellini in beef broth (no pictures, sorry), then did some more wandering. It’s a good city for wandering, and people were friendly. Loving, even.
As the sun set we found ourselves in the food market near Piazza Maggiore, where all sorts of colorful things…
And savory things…
Mixed all together. We were kind of stupefied, and eventually found a small cafe where we could sit inside out of the growing wind.
I wish I could tell you that we spend the night gorging ourselves in gustatory activities. We tried our best – heading down a dark, deserted street to an even-more-deserted alley (finding a store along the way that sold California beer, which was neat) to Osteria Le Sette Chiese, where we ordered the beef salad (a huge platter of arugula, topped with shaved raw beef, parmesan, lemon juice, and onions) and some tortellini. It was delicious, but we were kind of fooded out at that point. We’d been eating cured meat for days; by my count, I’d only had two meals in the previous fifteen that didn’t include some kind of salty pig.
Don’t get me wrong – I live the stuff. But when we woke up and had breakfast the next morning, we were happy to be going north, away from the food mania that had characterized most of our last four days. We were headed to the mountains.
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