SAT. JUNE 27: Day 19
When most people think of Bologna, they think of the American deli meat bearing the city’s name. While crowds of tourists fill Venice, Florence, and Rome, Bologna remains relatively quiet in comparison.
So, what brought me to this historical city where little English is spoken? One word: ragù. This long-cooked meat sauce was first concocted in Bologna, and I wanted to get my hands on it. Well, my mouth on it.
I had two choices: either I go to Bologna for pasta bolognese, or Genoa for pesto genovese. Bologna was the closer and more affordable option.
Bologna’s compact medieval center has several beautiful churches, monuments, and civic buildings. Its many porticoed sidewalks make for pleasant walking and window shopping.
Below is an example of a porticoed sidewalk. Porticoed is defined as a porch or walkway with a roof supported by columns, often leading to the entrance of a building.
While walking to Piazza Maggiore, one of the central squares, and the only one I recalled from my quick touristic research, my eyes passed shop after shop after shop filled to the brim with women’s fashion. I have never seen so many girls’ clothing stores in my life. My wallet began to cramp.
I popped into one store and was immediately greeted by a teenage girl who rattled off the fastest Italian I have ever heard. All I could understand was that she was explaining that the entire store was 50% off. I thought my face gave off my total confusion, but I somehow managed to get through her entire spiel without making her believe I was anything but Italian.
I bought a cream colored, belted, faux leather jacket for €15. This jacket is definitely going to be my staple piece in the fall. It is just soooo Italian and so cute!
Upon arrival to Piazza Maggiore, I saw what looked like an outdoor movie theatre. A sign next to the set up listed movies and show times.
The movie theatre sits next to the gothic Basilica di San Petronio, the main church in Bologna. It is the fifteenth largest church in the world.
The basilica is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Petronius, who was the bishop of Bologna in the fifth century.
Piazza del Nettuno, next to Piazza Maggiore, has an ornate 16th-century fountain in the center and is surrounded by medieval civic buildings. Fontana di Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) was built in 1563.
After picking up a map from the Tabaccheria, I popped into a bar for lunch. I told the bartender, “Questo è la mia prima volta in Bologna. Ho fame e voglio qualcosa nativo a Bologna.” This is my first time in Bologna. I’m hungry and I want something native to Bologna.
Mortadella is a large Italian sausage or cold cut made of finely hashed or ground, heat-cured pork, which incorporates at least 15% small cubes of pork fat. Mortadella is a product of Bologna, Italy. Thanks Wikipedia!
The sandwich was nothing but mortadella and bread, but somehow was still absolutely delicious. Italy, teach me your ways!
The baristas were so nice and gave me some chips on the house. I also had the bartender make me a typical Italian drink to compliment my sandwich. This is my first (and definitely not my last) spritz. Please tell me they have this in America.
Spritz is undoubtedly the most widespread and commonly drunk aperitif in Italy: an alcoholic drink that people drink before eating a meal. 3 parts of prosecco, 2 parts of aperol, 1 splash of soda, and an occasional slice of orange creates this wonderful and perfectly refreshing alcoholic beverage. Prosecco is an Italian white sparkling wine and is something I have become, well, quite in love with.
I spent the rest of the day doing what I do best: exploring. And eventually getting gelato.. duh!
Raspberry and yogurt. A delicious pairing suggested by the gelato expert who took my order.
The iconic Due Torri or Two Towers. The Two Towers, both of them leaning, are the symbol of Bologna. The taller one is called the Asinelli while the smaller but more leaning tower is called the Garisenda.
I stumbled into an event that struck the last bit of energy I could muster. The last time I wandered around a city, I ended up at the Italian MTV Awards. Today? The Bologna Gay Pride Festival!
Lo stesso amore gli stessi diritti: The same love, the same rights.
I tried to take many photos, but the crowd was as tight as a can of sardines. Plus, everyone was smoking which made it more difficult for a non-smoker like me.
I had a great time nonetheless, and I am so happy I could be part of such an incredible experience.
For dinner, I asked about 5 different Italians for their recommendation and they all told me “Vai a Via del Pratello.” Go to Via del Pratello. They all told me that street is filled with restaurants.
I really don’t want to sound like a debbie downer, but my experience was a let down. 🙁 The wait staff wasn’t friendly, the pasta bolognese was the most unimpressive meal I’ve had during my time in Italy, and a fly landed in my wine.
I ended up running like a madman to the train station. I did not realize how far away it was in comparion to where I was, and I did not want to get stuck in Bologna for the night!
I made it home safe and sound and crashed into bed without a second thought. Not every day is going to be a shiny penny. Sometimes, your day is a penny that fell out of someone’s pocket and has endured a day’s worth of car tires and footprints.
My time in Bologna wasn’t the best it could have been, but I am not going to let it bring me down. You have to be flexible while traveling and make the best of every situation!