Bye Bye Bologna

It is too soon to say I miss Bologna, because so much of Bologna is still in the front of my consciousness. I still feel the energy from the street below my window ( I’m the fifth story apartment with the lights on in two windows).

I still smell the strong coffee and bombolone at Terzi.

My mind walks through Piazza Maggiore to Simoni for a drink and I recall Kajo, the manager, calling out to me as he has a cigarette before starting work.

I’m still getting WhatsApp messages from Ela and Giorgio and Christain and Frederico. It is too soon to be sad about not having pasta for every lunch and dinner.

My last week has been very local Bologna. Nick was here one last day and he went to mass with me at the Cathedral.

He isn’t Catholic but he speaks Italian so he was able to tell me afterwards that the homily was about all people having an important place in the world. Something so evident in my daily life here in Bologna.

Afterwards we know exactly where our place should be. We head for Trattoria Giampu e Ciccio.

As we approach, the owner calls out , “Ciao San Francisco!”. He had met me at Nonna Rosa a few days before and remembers me. His grandfather started the restaurant and there is a picture on the wall which translates to his grandfather having won a baby beauty contest.

They fit us into a crowded dining room and his wife Paula suggest we start with the Crostini com friggione ( toasted bread with onions and tomatoes soup).

It is fresh tomatoes cooked down for 5 hours with onions to make a delicious topping for the warm bread. Along with caprese we have Passatelli ( pancetta, arugula, and lemon) and the most delicious lasagna.

Once again Nick is very bad and orders chocolate cake dessert with marscapone.

In the afternoon Nick and I stroll around Bologna and check out the Prendiparte Tower, a medieval tower turned into a bed and breakfast.

Later we visit a hard to describe modern art exhibit. We enjoy it even tho the guard as we entered made a sign to us like it was “crazy”. After one more coffee Nick must leave. After meeting Nick for the first time in Berlin 9 years ago, I have seen him in Copenhagen, Umbria, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Amsterdam, and we even hiked Yosemite together two days before the pandemic started in 2020.

I know we will connect again before too long.

I return to my place and I am happy to hear my neighbor the opera singer practicing away upstairs. He had introduced himself to me as Greg from Rochester, NY. Turns out he is a famous tenor and one of the most accomplished singers on the international opera stage today. He is appearing in two operas in Bologna this summer. Luisa Miller and Otello. Everyday I hear beautiful music from him when I’m in my apartment.

Later I try Ela’s suggestion of pizza at Altero. It is delicious but I ordered way too much.

The next day I am up early and I’m determined to walk to Le serre in Giardini Margherita. It is hard to describe this amazing space. It was born of an abandoned greenhouse. A non profit Kilowatt put it back to life. There is a co-working space, a vegetable garden, a bistro called Vetro, an outdoor movie screen, and a very cool bar. People are working and playing all around me.

I grab a salad and just sit and absorb this fantastic space. I lament why we don’t have this type of set up in all our parks.

I head back, as friends of mine from Sonoma have a daughter studying in Florence and she is coming for a visit. Stella arrives and I take the opportunity to introduce her to Bologna. After a while we stop at Simoni where of course a table is always available for me and after ordering drinks, little appetizers are sent over as a welcome gift for Stella.

I tell her about Le serre and she is interested, so for the second time that day I am in the park.

After aperol spritzes at my place we head to Trattoria Giampu e Ciccio again and sit outside.

Time flies and before long Stella must literally run for the last train back to Florence. It is great fun to be the “local” introducing Stella to Bologna.

The next day I am to meet Giorgia and her friend Alessandro. When I arrive at the appointed spot I am surprised to see Giorgia is in a car.

She has borrowed her mother’s car to drive outside the city to a famous breakfast spot called Gino Fabbri. Just when I thought pastries could not get any better she introduces me to these amazing Calzones and sweets. We have long conversations about careers, life and love and the time flies.

Giorgia ask if we would be ok going to a local butcher shop with her. Of course. Little did we know we would spend hours in the shop without buying any meat, but drinking lots of champagne and eating until we thought we would bust. Let me explain. Giorgia met Teddy the owner when he came to her wine bar in Bologna. He had a shirt on saying Teddy the Butcher. When she admired it, he simply took it off in the wine bar and gave it to her. A friendship was born.

Teddy is there with his sister Maria and their shop Macelleria Teddy is known for the highest quality of products.

I look around and since I love to cook I can attest that what is in the case are beautiful cuts of meat. At first we mill about while customers come in for their steaks and sausages. Teddy dutifully fulfills the orders.

All of a sudden, Teddy has a bottle of champagne on a barrel and pours us all a glass.

That is followed by bringing out more champagne and the mortadella which is followed by aged parmesean cheese. Pretty soon Teddy’ s nephew Alessandro has arrived to work/drink champagne and Teddy makes us sandwiches as other family members arrive to join in the fun.

No matter how much I eat and drink, everyone says “You must have more”. Teddy also insist on giving us all tshirts saying Macelleria Da Teddy ( the butcher Teddy). I really feel like I must be in a movie. I can’t imagine having this must fun at any butcher shop in America.

Back in the city I’m trying to decide how to spend my last night. It is tempting to go hang out with the Simoni crowd, or with Christain at the Gallery, or even to see if Greg the opera singer needs a wine break. In the end I decide I just want to quietly walk through the city. I head down Via Santa Stefano and just people watch. At one point I come to a beautiful chapel in a courtyard that I’ve never seen.

It’s called Cappella del S. S. Sacramento. I tiptoe in and see a few people in this tiny chapel singing.

It is so touching. Walking on, I see a door that says Ancelle del S. cuore di Gesu. I push on the door and see this beautiful little church in the dark.

These are so pretty and I never noticed them before today. I’ve been here a month and I haven’t even scratched the surface. I end with a glass of wine in the park and contemplate how soon I can return to beautiful welcoming Bologna.

I really appreciate my readers and their many comments. It makes it like a conversation. If you want to comment, all you have to do is go back up and click the title of the post and a comment box will appear at the end of the article. You don’t have to sign in to leave a comment. Hope you do!

12 thoughts on “Bye Bye Bologna

  1. This has been an extraordinary trip! More than an excursion since your narrative revealed how much you blended into the fabric of your Bolognese neighborhood and this wonderful city. Safe travels home… welcome back, Shirley!


  2. I always hate seeing Shirleyfest end. I miss the posts and how you get so much out of your experience. This is especially true since we visited Bologna and nearby cities including Parma, Modena, Ravenna and Verona. We’re glad to have experienced a part of two Shirleyfests with you and our Rome visit was an especially memorable and magical time for us.


  3. It’s sad when a favorite Netflix series comes to the last episode of the season, and you have to wait a year for the next one. Here’s hoping it won’t be too long before we can tune into the next Shirleyfest, or even better, cross paths again on one of these journeys…


  4. Lmk if you ever go back to Italy. I will come visit. I have never been more envious of any of your trips. Bravo!


  5. What a wonderful month you had! You truly made the most of every opportunity and created your own avventura incredibile!!


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