Another early morning for me as I started my voyage to my next destination. It was a beautiful morning in Montepulciano today, there were clouds looming over the city, and the sun was just starting to peak through with bright oranges and reds. After a night of rain, the air was cool and crisp; a beautiful send off for me after a wonderful couple of weeks.
After saying my goodbyes to Montepulciano, Fiorella and her little doggie Gnaufie, I was on the bus heading to the train station. I grabbed a quick cappuccino at the bar, and now here I am, heading to Bologna. I almost can’t imagine that food could be any better than what I have been eating thus far, but so many people gush over Bologna, so I am eagerly awaiting my arrival, perfectly timed for a spot of lunch. (Or maybe I should say purposely timed).
Even with a transfer, it felt like I arrived in Bologna in no time. I grabbed a cab, and started my drive towards Antica Residenza d’Azeglio. At first view of the city, I was a little caught off guard by what Bologna looked like. I had only ever seen pictures of Bologna that show the arched walkaways, and possibly the more glamorous bits. So, I was a bit surprised to find a city looking a little tired.
But luckily, my bed and breakfast was located in the centro storico, which was more of what I was expecting. Agostino quickly helped me with getting my luggage set up in my beautiful room. Decorated with attention to detail and thought, I was very impressed by my room.
Even the room size was quite generous for European standards. And a wonderful surprise awaited me as well, my own private terrace! I imagine that in the warmer months it would be really nice to sit and enjoy your breakfast on the terrace, or even an aperitivo.
After getting settled in, I got myself ready to head out and tour around. My first directional was Piazza Maggiore, the main square.
I walked around and took pictures, and just enjoyed the sunshine. Such a wonderful change after so much rain in Tuscany.
Just minutes from Piazza Maggiore is the Quadrilatero district; tiny streets lined with restaurants, fruit and vegetable vendors, bakeries, meat shops, pasta shops, wine stores, candy shops…truly something for everyone – and also the perfect place to stop for some lunch. I actually had no place in mind, so I decided to wander and try to find where the locals were eating.
I’m not sure if I was completely successful in finding a local spot, but I was definitely successful in finding delicious food.
I present you with my first course, sausage pizza. Pillowy soft focaccia-like dough, bright sauce, gooey cheese and spicy sausage…hot, fresh and sooo yummy. Where did I find this gem? I have not the slightest. I took the pizza to go and completely forgot to pay attention to where I got it from. But I figure it’s a sign of living in the moment, right?
Second course, I found myself in a sort of Italian food court if you will…but think like high-end fancy food court, not your typical mall Taco Bell stop. Locals and tourists alike were grabbing quick bites, and I had my heart set on trying the local bread, crescente bolognese.
Three warm little breads stuffed with prosciutto, mortadella and salame. I don’t even know what to compare these to…not an english muffin, not a tortilla…truly its own special little round bread pocket yumminess.
And for the main attraction, pasta. If there is one reason you go to Bologna, it is because of the homemade stuffed pastas. I found a place to eat, because when I was walking by, I could literally smell the sauce from someone’s pasta, and I was sold.
Teeny tiny meat stuffed tortellini in a parmigiano cream sauce. Mhhhhh. I actually anticipated the sauce essentially tasting like a cream sauce, but it literally tasted like melted parmigiano reggiano. The sauce was the perfect partner for these tiny little pockets of meaty goodness. This plate required me to leave no one behind. Clean plate club? Member! All washed down with a refreshingly dry and light glass of the local Lambrusco.
Literally feeling like I could eat no more, I decided to walk it off for awhile. But before I could make it very far, I came across a gelato shop that happen to catch my eye. I watched as the woman served up someone’s cone, and it looked sooooo creamy, I just couldn’t resist.
I went with Pistachio and Monte Bianco. The Pistachio was the perfect mix of salty and sweet, but the Monte Bianco was the real star. I am actually not sure what it was exactly, but it was without a doubt the best gelato that I have ever had. So creamy, so light, so perfect in every way. I will definitely be going back for more.
So finally, some time for walking. I wandered around the city center stopping in different churches and shops, catching photos of the beautiful local architecture.
In general I have found Bologna to be very nice. I am not sure what I was expecting, but it is different than what I was thinking it would be (much much larger than I anticipated). I think that I was picturing a city with similar charm to Florence or Venice maybe, but in its own way Bologna charms you (probably with the food).
After a few hours I decided to call it an early night, as I knew that I was going to have another early morning. So I wandered back home, still very full from my lunches, but with a very nice first day in Bologna. Today left me feeling a bit curious and intrigued with Bologna. All of the food wowed me, but the city left me longing for something a bit more Tuscan perhaps. I guess that I will see what tomorrow brings.