After Ferrara’s wedding weekend events, it seemed like our next stop in Bologna would be quiet and potentially disappointing. Quiet it was, since our company of international friends had dwindled down to only us two, but disappointing it was not. We dragged our suitcases through the shaded (thankfully) porticoes of the city to get to our B&B, struggled with an Italian pay phone to get a hold of the B&B owner, and finally set our suitcases down in our comfy room. Despite the bumpy start, it didn’t take long to see the charm of Bologna.
It was in Bologna where we ate gelato twice in one day (upon regretting buying the smallest size after lunch, we vowed to get more after dinner). It was in Bologna where we fell in love with (and wished we’d ordered more) homemade tortellini filled with pistachio and ricotta and paired with salty pancetta. It was from the top of a tall tower after climbing four hundred something steps that we saw the beautiful city of red roofs and orange and yellow houses. In Bologna we poked our heads into silent, decorated churches and wondered how all the beautiful ceilings could have such different details from one to another.
Our tour of this university town started out in the main plaza, Piazza Maggiore, where the great fountain of Neptune becomes a gathering place for students and tourists alike. People drape themselves on the steps of the library, taking in the sun and sculpting their cones of gelato with each flick of the tongue. We joined in the gelato-slurping with them, feeling half drowsy in the afternoon heat, half like we should carpe the diem (as Sam would say).
We decided to take on the stairs of one of the two grand towers and climb to the top. When we reached the top, we were rewarded with the beautiful views and the soft breeze. It was amazing seeing the city from above, the uniformity of the colors of the houses, though despite the sameness the city still had a lot of character.
After taking some photos, we climbed back down (trying not to look too far down the steep stair case) and headed back to the B&B to get ready for dinner.
Upon the recommendation of Giovanni, our host, we wandered over to La Traviata for dinner where we found ourselves once again dining outdoors. The owner, a patient Italian woman who spoke a charming blend of Italish, told us the specials of the day. We ordered, despite me being completely unsure about what I would be eating. The pistachio-ricotta tortellini was a no-brainer (because it sounded delicious – and it was soo delicious),
but the fasera that I ordered for my main course still remains a mystery (“It’s similar to chicken… no it’s not turkey.” Italian speakers – please help me out). It tasted good, but I really have no idea what I ate. Sam ordered a salad of arugula, Parmesan, and steak that he enjoyed and we shared a bottle of Lambrusco.
Our evening ended with one of the best gelato tastings of the trip at the Sorbetteria Castiglione, a modern looking shop off the main tourist roads serving an assorted, yet traditional array of flavors. We both enjoyed the dulce de leche and began eating it so eagerly that I skipped taking a picture. Our evening concluded with a romantic stroll through the lighted porticoes that are ubiquitous in the city.
The next morning we said goodbye to the beautiful city after a lovely breakfast of fruit, pastry, and bread (eaten in an elegant room that makes me want it call it a salon or sitting room for some reason).
Though we enjoyed our Bologna visit, we saw most of what we came to see. Now we were off to the western coast for the breath-taking views and hilly terrain in the small but inviting villages of Cinque Terre.