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Bologna trip report


marktynernyc
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Was in Bologna from Nov. 4th to the 12th. This was a really great vacation - slept late, drank and ate a little too much, day tripped to Modena, Parma and Ravenna, really forgot about work. For me, Bologna gets closer to the Italian essence compared to tourist oriented cities like Rome, Venice and the Italian Riviera.

flight:

Flew Alitalia from JFK on Nov. 3rd. Once again - spent about 45 minutes taxing and waiting to take off. This seems to becoming a regular occurrence. The flight went smoothly - the in-flight meal was actually good though the individual screens did not function properly. I was happy reading and sleeping. Connected through Milan - had about and hour and half between flights - no problems. Arrived in Bologna around 11:30, as did my luggage - hopped in a taxi, 12 euro later, was dropped off at Albergo Centrale. Return trip went overall smoothly - the only bottle neck was going through passport control in Milan.

hotel:

Albergo Centrale

http://www.albergocentralebologna.it

I paid 75 euro for a double used as a single - it looked out on to the street (della Zecca) but was quiet. The room was a tad dark but the location can't be beat - two blocks away from the Piazza Magiorre, a 10-15 minute walk to the train station. Werter and his staff helped with dinner reservations, etc. Great location.

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Bologna:

Porticos - there is something about the space defined by the porticos, which is only for pedestrians, that is wonderfully civilized - the alternating bans of light and shadow, the m.c. escher-like visual of endless porticos. The ocher, mustard, and rust colored buildings glowed in the pale autumnal light - the handsome strutting Italian men, the well put together Italian women, lots of university students. The Piazza Magiorre was a hub of activity - jazz band, people talking, kids

playing, bicyclists leisurely peddeling their way through. A chocolate festival took place in the piazza for most of the week - chocolates filled with lemoncello, aceto balsamic. grappa, sambuca, etc. I found most of the churches to be pretty straight forward - nothing extraordinary. Bologna is a great base to do day trips to various nearby cities and you can get back for dinner. The weather for the entire week was unseasonably warm to slightly cool - just a light jacket, occasionally a sweater. The information office at the train station was extremely helpful printing out train schedules. If you're not up for a big dinner you can always try one of the bars in the early evening which put put out " free cicheti" , as long as you have a glass of wine or two.

Modena:

20 minute train ride from Bologna. The duomo is a UNESCO heritage site - a combination of Romanesque and Lombard styles. The interior is moody and mysterious. The choir and the crypt have wonderful sculptural details. Be sure to check out the farmer's market - even the heads of lettuce are works of beauty. Lots of chic and expensive shopping - they don't call it the mink city for nothing.

Parma:

Unlike Bologna and Modena - I noticed there weren't many - if any - porticos in Parma. The duomo's exterior is Romanesque - the interior ceiling is painted in the Mannerist style, very colorful and a sense of giddiness compared to the solemnity of Modena's duomo. The pink exterior of the baptistry, next to the duomo, gives no hint to what lies inside - a gothic vaulted space almost entirely covered with medieval art - breath taking

Ravenna:

About an hour and a half train ride from Bologna. The mosaics in the churches, basilicas, baptistry,mausoleum, etc are gorgeous. Make an effort to see the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe, which is a suburb of Ravenna.

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Restaurants:

Enoteca at Tamburini

The enoteca at Tamburini has various sampler plates of cured meats and cheeses - plus a wide variety of wines by the glass. Be sure to try the lardo. I found the lambrusco to be a nice second fiddle to the food - it didn't upstage the food. The Sangiovese/cabernet blends were pleasant also. This was a great introduction to the foods of the region.

Re Enzo

via Riva di Reno 79/d, Bologna

My first dinner in Bologna. Started with a plate of cured meats - the smoked duck breast proscuitto melted on my tongue. The pasta with white truffles was so fragrant. The lamb had a balsamic glaze of some sort with flecks of rosemary and slivers of chestnuts. For dessert - something chocolatey and chestnut I think. The recommended cabernet/sangiovese blend opened up nicely and was 12E. Even though it was a Saturday - the place never filled up.

Trattoria Meloncello

Via Saragozza 240a, Bologna

This seems to be one of the few restaurants open on Sunday - I was going to have lunch on my way up to San Luca. I didn't have reservations and the place was packed.

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Gigina

via Stendhl 1b, Bologna

This was about a 10E taxi ride from the Piazza Magiorre. Lots of Italian families having dinner here - very lively. Started with a beautiful plate of rare roast beef , with a squeeze of lemon - followed by taglitelle with ragu sauce and then veal in a balsamic sauce.

Caminetta d'oro

via de'Falegnami, 4, Bologna

http://www.caminettodoro.it/

Wonderful lite rifts on local recipes - started with a simple green salad with delicate baby vegetables and shaved Parmesan. Spinach ravioli in a light cream sauce with carrots and peas - the pasta and the sauce was so light and delicate - delicious. For secondo - rabbit with some roasted vegetables - perfectly cooked.

Dei Picari

via Emilia-Ponente 459, Bologna

www.latavernadeipicari.it

A rustic tavern - about a 10E taxi ride from the Piazza Maggiore. When tasting his mortadella, I finally understood that American baloney is a very poor cousin to mortadella. The filling for his homemade tortellini in brodo - made me pause. And his tortellini were small - not plump. The lamb was tender and well prepared. I recommend this place highly.

Grassilli

via del Luzzo 3, Bologna

near due Torre

Creativo cucina. The polenta gnocchi with a lamb ragu (I think) were especially good and hearty. Different and intriguing rifts on traditional dishes.

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Franco Rossi

Via Goito, 3, Bologna

Disappointing - all the dishes were heavy handed. The breaded veal with parma ham, cheese and truffles was so heavy laden. They also have a John Grishman menu - in his latest novel the restaurant is mentioned. The highlight of the meal was an Italian family celebrating a birthday at the table next to me - they insisted I join them for cake and prosecco.

Cesarina

via Santo Stefano 19/B, Bologna

http://www.ristorantecesarina.it/

Near San Stefano. Started with a plate of various antipasti - not bad. The couple next to me had order asparagus - which looked gorgeous. Tortellini in a pomodoro sauce - not bad but after the first bite wished i had ordered the ravioli with pumpkin. For secondo - guinea fowl with roasted vegetables. The waitress recommend the house sangiovese/cabernate blend.

Cesari

via de Carbonesi 8

Started with lardo e crostini - which was one of my favorite dishes of the region. For a primi - tortellini filled with spiced pumpkin - another regional favorite. For my secondo - cheese flan with white truffles. I had a local lambrusco as a counter point to all the rich food

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Del Cacciatore

via Caduti di Casteldebole 25

http://www.ristoranteilcacciatore.com

Their specialty is game - a 10E taxi ride from Piazza Maggiore. The best antipasti carts my whole trip - everything was just a notch above in quality/flavor/tenderness. The wild boar had a touch too much clove. The grappa trolley has 150 bottles. This was my only dinner where I didn't open my book once - I felt so relaxed and at ease. I recommend this place highly.

Torre de Galluzzi

Corte Galluzzi 5/a

Started with cooked asparagus with parmesan - the asparagus had unfortunately been cooked to a point of such limpness - not a good start. Followed with a huge bowl of tortellini in brodo - which was just right to take the chill off me. Followed with a beef carpaccio salad with shaved parmesan - which was fantastic.

Da Bertino & Figli

via delle Lame 55

My hotel suggested this my last night - one of the last places that serves traditional bolito misto. I was the only non-Italian in the place. Started with the tortellini in brodo was a meal unto itself. The broth was amazing - clear but with incredible flavor. I loved slurping the tortellini. Did the bolito misto - which was an assortment of tender cuts of cooked meats. A great last meal in Bologna, I highly recommend this place.

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Cucina de Museo,

via Sant'Agostino 7, Modena

It's a small intimate restaurant - maybe 8 tables at most and a small fireplace. I tried the 'creativo cucina' menu - pumpkin and bacalo, asparagus/mushroom flan, venison. For dessert a chestnut chocolately creation being that chestnuts were in season. The owner recommended a local lambrusco and as a digestif, the locally made walnut liquor. I would love to come back and have dinner here.

Il Trovatore,

via Affo 2/a, Parma

near the train station

They have reasonably priced 5 course meat and seafood menus. My waiter was wonderful - telling me the correct order to eat the cured meats - recommending a certain lambrusco - telling me about the region's foods. Started with a plate of various cured meats - followed by pumpkin spiced filled ravioli and spinach cheese filled ravioli. These were astounding - the pasta was so thin and delicate - the spiced pumpkin filling so fall like. For my secondo - beef cheeks - so tender. For dessert - a sample platter of various desserts of the restaurant. I recommend this place highly.

La Rustica,

Via Alberoni Giulio, 55, Ravenna

near the train station

A small trattoria - reasonably priced - easy to find. I had a quick bite here - a plate of cured meats, some pasta with fungi and couple glasses of the house red.

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antipasti : 5E- 10E

primi: 10E - 15E

secondo: 15E - 25E (including the white truffle dishes)

desserts: 7E

wine: 10E - 20E

I usually had a 4 course meal and bottle of wine, bottle of water, maybe a digestif - prices range from 45E to 80E. I usually just rounded up the bill.

guide books:

Footprint, Bologna

http://www.footprintbooks.com/

Cadogan Guides, Bologna & Emilia Romagna

http://www.cadoganguides.com/

Touring Club of italy, Authentic Emilia-Romagna

http://www.touringclub.it/

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I have found that most Italians frown upon pedestrians purging their meals in public spaces. I'd recommend eating moderately, instead, then strolling through those wonderful brick-valuted walkways that make Bologna seem so spacious.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Does Albergo Centrale still have the great fish tank in the coffee room? And the man at the front desk who is very friendly, but whose vision is bad that he can see the reservation book?

We've stayed there a bunch of times, great location.

Wonderful writeup! Thanks for taking the time and effort.

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Didn't need or want to purge in public, or privately, while in Bologna.

The walk to and from San Luca will work off the calories with no problem.

If I remember correctly - the fish tank is still there.

As for why I had a brief lunch in Ravenna.... :wub: ...la dolce vita :biggrin:

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