I’m trying to think when I’ve felt compelled to post about a Shirleyfest city after just a few nights in my new home. Oh I know……Never! Until now. Dear readers, Bologna might just be the best kept travel secret. So why do I say this? Let me tell you.
Let’s start at the beginning. It is an easy trip to Bologna connecting thru Amsterdam on KLM. The airport is small and having cleared customs in Amsterdam, I simply walk straight out to a waiting taxi. Less than 20 minutes later, I’m in my new apartment which is literally steps from the famous two towers of Bologna.
The street below my fifth floor flat is Via Rizzoli, a pedestrian zone on the weekend.
Of course that means since Bologna is a university town that the students gather below my building on the weekends, but it makes for a lively atmosphere. I unpack, shower and head off for my first dinner.
I have reserved in the posh Gallerie nearby. I’m well taken care of by Christain who is surprised and delighted that I am here for a month. After a delicious salad and designer pizza, he surprises me with a lemon sorbet to welcome me.
I’m feeling right at home. And that is the first night!
The next day I have reserved a walking tour. As my readers know, that is my standard practice to have that set up for the first morning in any city. I am so lucky to have Ela as my guide. Smart, warm and energetic, she takes me and two others around her beautiful city. Pasta being the religion of Bologna, we stop to watch it being made.
We then head on thru the beautiful porticos of which there are so many. Bologna has more porticos than any other city in the world …..they date back to 1041. Ela takes us to see one of the portico still standing from medieval times.
From there, we wander thru the Quadrilatero, the old Bologna market, and now home to many many outdoor cafes, restaurants and food shops.
We duck into Gilberto’s and do a basamic vinegar tasting with Marco. We progress from the 8 year old to the 40 year old and it astonishing how rich and refined the oldest Modena vinegars taste.
We stop in the building that housed the university originally and now contains the library. The ceiling is filled with famous family crests.
We plan to end at Neptune fountain, but Ela is so generous with her time, she takes us to the “hidden canals of Bologna”. I was able to peak through the recently restored window that gave way to a view of the Reno Canal in Via Piella.
We take a group shot and Marcel and Alexandra leave.
Once the tour ends, Ela and I are not done talking so we go off the two of us to a nearby coffee bar and continue our discussion.
Soon I say goodbye to my new friend, but we make plans to meet again soon.I feel so lucky to have met such a wonderful person.
I decide to walk to the modern art museum at the edge of town. MAMbo. It is small but nicely done. I’m fascinated by what this artist was trying to tell us.
And I love that this artist found a way to cram more hours in the day.
Later I head to Trattoria dal Biassanot and enjoy a beautiful meal served by the attentive Luca.
The pasta is tortellini with pistachios. Absolutely devine…. as was the pane cotta with fresh berries. Oh gosh I’m glad I walk a lot here! I looked at my step counter at the end of the day and had walked 25,000 steps. I’ll need to keep that up if I am going to eat all this delicious food.
On Sunday it is Mother’s Day so I decide to take the pilgrims path ( hike!) up to Chinese Della Madonna di San Luca founded in 1194. You go through 666 porticos ( the longest Portico path in the world) to have an uninterrupted 3.8 km hike to get to the top.
Once up, a beautiful church awaits you.
Inside many parishioners are chanting the rosary in honor of the Virgin Mary. I love how fitting this seems on the special day. Great views await you at the top.
After a small rest and a bottle of water, I start back down. I have to admit I saw a coffee bar just before the end and I plunk down at a table for a refreshing cup of tea before carrying on.
Tonight I decide to try to get a table at Simoni, the unchallenged best charcuterie restaurant in Bologna. I see lots of people and I wait to put my name on the list. For some reason, I am whisked off right away to a perfect table in the center of the restaurant with great views of the hard working staff.
It is a show to watch the charcuterie trays being churned out for all the hungry guests. Klevis, my waiter, shows me the best wine to order and soon my plate arrives.
By then I am heartily engaged with the tables on either side of me. One with an American student living in Bologna now for 3 years and her visiting cousin and the other two Italian students getting their masters at the university. Naturally I garner some great tips and recommendations from my fellow diners!
I walk the few short blocks home very happy with my first three days in Bologna. I do believe I have picked the perfect city for Shirleyfest 2022. I hope you will continue to enjoy Bologna with me.