Tag Archives: bologna

In search of bolognese

Today we venture south to Bologna, a medieval looking city with a center that’s more Chicago State Street than Little Italy.

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Bologna is referred to in a number of ways. La Grassa (the fat one) celebrates the first bolognese sauce that originated in the city. La Dotta (the learned one) refers to the university that was founded in 1088. And La Rossa (the red one) illustrates the red terracotta medieval buildings with their miles of porticoes and apparently some left-wing politics as well. (source)

We arrived by train and after checking out our very modern accommodations at Hotel Metropolitan, ventured out to check out the open markets.

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We quickly realized there were far less tourists in Bologna than Venice and after an hour or so roaming the streets surrounding the main piazza, far more American retail stores.

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We stopped for lunch at an outdoor cafe near the museum and had our first really memorable meal of the trip. Perhaps not as much as this kid who enjoyed a foccacia sandwich larger than his entire torso. Bon Appetito!

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Matt enjoyed a tagliatelle with bolognese and I had a salad with poached egg, asparagus and peccorino cheese with a side of bread and wine, naturally.

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That afternoon, we boarded the San Luca Express for a ride along the portico that led up to the Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca overlooking the city. We had originally planned on walking the trip but after hearing it would take two hours to walk the world’s longest portico, we both decided riding was the best decision of the day.

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If the views from the top of the city weren’t breathtaking enough, a walk inside the basilica will do it.

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It was at the top of San Luca that we had our first aperitivo on the trip. Partially pictured: the tiny round teeter-totter that was the seat at this quaint pizzeria.

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Our stop in Bologna was quick, but we were grateful to experience the University town before heading down to Florence for the next few days and falling even more in love with this beautiful country.

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Ciao!

Visiting Venice: Day 2

It’s day 2 in Venice and by now you’ve established that a day well spent begins with a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant.

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To give you a little history on Venice. Years ago, ok centuries, the Venetians decided that a big old swamp with a few islands looked suitable for establishment of a city. So the barbarians may have had something to do with it, but after surviving a few plagues and purchasing a lot of flood insurance, Venice became one of the most beautiful, and rapidly sinking, cities in the world.

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After breakfast, you hop on a water taxi, or vaparetto, and take a ride out and around the island to San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square. Today, you’re sort of reversing your steps from the airport yesterday, every tiny little step you lugged that brand new but fully-loaded luggage over to get to the hotel.

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You determine the ferries are very similar to the CTA and minus the language barrier, feel fairly confident navigating them with little to no conversational Italian speaking skills yet established.

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You arrive at San Marco and suddenly realize your hotel is in a much quieter part of town.

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It’s a good thing you take way too many photos of gondolas, gondoliers and gondola riders, because you will save yourself 100 Euro when you run out of time to take a ride later that afternoon.

The basilica at San Marco is a must so you climb a steep and narrow staircase to the museum on the upper level where for a small fee they allow you to go out on the marble-tiled roof for a great view of the square. Your legs will tingle the whole time as your new husband leans and stretches himself way too close to the edge.  You make a mental note to adjust your life insurance policy when you return to the states.

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View between the Doge palace (Palazzo Ducale) and prison, along the Bridge of Sighs.

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Grand Council Chamber in Doge Palace, said to be the largest room in Europe.

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By now you’re starving so you wander the winding streets surrounding San Marco until you settle on a trattoria, or rather, you get tired of getting heckled to try said trattorias so you choose the one where they seem to need you the least.

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You wrap up your trip in Venice with dinner at another local spot and a quick stop for gelato. Your next few days would determine that the best evenings are ended with gelato and the best food in Italy is not in Venice.

Next up, Bologna!

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