I know there are many facets to Bologna, but my main desire to go there was to eat. I found Bologna to be dirty, gritty and covered in graffiti. It’s the only city that I felt a bit unsafe in. Had to put on my New York face and look like I knew where I was going so no one harassed me. I spent one evening in a laundromat – kinda funny story.
Sure, it has the oldest university in the world. First established in 1000 AD it has been running continuously ever since. The first students were, of course, rich kids and their family coat of arms decorate the ceiling and walls of the old university site.
When Napoleon came through, he didn’t like where the university was and so moved it across town where it exists today. When we were they, it was be graduation time. The halls were full of laughter, well dressed families and graduates. Confetti was all over the university’s courtyard. It was a wonderful time to be there.
Apparently, Bologna used to have over 70 towers. During times of war, the rich folks would head over to their tower and shoot arrows out the slits. Now it only has two.
There also used to be many canals, used for transporting goods within the city and out to the Adriatic. Now there is only one canal.
There is a fountain of Neptune in the main piazza. The Maserati symbol comes from the statue of Neptune’s spear.
Cleto Chiarli Winery
It was a great pleasure to visit this winery. It specializes in ‘fresh’ wines which are meant to be drunk within 2 years of production. Pignoletto is a fresh, frizzante white, delicious. The Lambrusco wasn’t the sickeningly sweet one the wasband had me try. This one was a fresh red, dry and refreshing. At the winery we were tasting the first pressing. Made me weep when our guide said it cost $8 Euro. Eight EURO – $12 Canadian!!! We pay $25 dollars for the same quality of BC wine.
Three Old Guys Hotel
The hotel I stayed at the Zan Hotel Tre Vecchi with our group. Nice hotel, kind of a 1930’s feel with velvet banquettes and art deco curves to the furniture. As you came in the door there was a full length mirror so you could see the entire bed. I had a nice view of the piazza below.
As I mentioned, I was travelling with a BCIT field school group. Most of the group were in their 20’s. One afternoon, one young lady returned to her room to find a naked man standing near the bed and she could see, in the mirror, a naked woman lying on the bed. She quickly left and contacted our professor.
When the professor confronted the ‘naked’ man in question it turns out he was one of the managers. The manager’s explanation was that the young lady was mistaken. He only had his shirt off because he was fixing the sink. He didn’t even mention the naked maid on the bed.
FYI – there was nothing wrong with the sink. I certainly was checking my bed for the rest of the week for strange hairs. You can’t make this stuff up!
One of our guides gave us the ‘rules’ around food, according to the Bolognese.
- There is no such thing as spaghetti Bolognese. In Bologna it is tagliatelle with ragu
- Tortelloni (big tortellini) is ONLY filled with ricotta and herbs
- Tortellini (small tortellini) is ONLY filled with meat
- Lasagna is made with spinach noodles, not white noodles
- An osteria is a casual wine bar which serves tapas like things
- A trattoria is a step up and serves more substantial meals
- A ristorante means you are getting your good clothes on and having a special meal
Of course she mentioned that the rules are all mixed up now because Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana has been named as the best ‘restaurant’ in the world.
Finally – FOOD
My only regret is that I didn’t have access to a kitchen so I was at the mercy of the culinary skills of the restaurants in the area. (poor me 😊)
We went down one street, off the big piazza, which only had food shops. It was simply too much to bare. Parmesan stacked up to the ceiling, fresh pasta for days, and all manner of preserved meats. (sigh).
Agent E and I did indulge at Tamburini and sons. It was lovely. Thank goodness Agent E was with me. He was the only one that was up for trying anything.
The soundtrack for the entire trip was the cicadas. They were the constant sound no matter where we went. Sometimes so loud you could hear them through the double glass!