Thursday, January 31, 2013

Walking the streets and feeding my face in Bologna

I fetched up in Bologna with only a hand-drawn map showing me how to get from the train station to my nearby hotel, having failed to get online and look up a map the whole time I was in Padua. This turned out not to be a problem, but it was a much bigger concern when I reached the hotel and found instructions to dial an Italian number in order to get inside. My stupid cellphone doesn't work outside of France, and no-one answered the doorbell, so I had visions of being stranded out on the street for the duration of my Bologna sojourn. Luckily, however, there was a deli next door and a very nice Italian man let me use his phone to call up and ask the hotel owner to come open up, so I was saved from a likely future as a Bolognese prostitute (I believe that's how Moll Flanders got going).

Having duly checked in, I set off again still with no map and no clue where I was going. Luckily enough, there was just one straight road to follow to get into the city centre, the Via dell'Indipendenza. It was early Saturday evening by this time, and after somnolent Padua, I was shocked by the buzz on the street. It almost seemed to have a festival vibe to it, or the feeling when a big concert or sporting event lets out and everyone takes to the street en masse. It seemed like everyone in Bologna was there. When I managed to pick up a map from the tourist office, I read that it is in fact a tradition in Bologna to promenade up and down this street on a Saturday night. It was amazing how energetic and lively it made the city seem.

Via dell'Indipendenza

I spent that first evening just walking around, and particularly admiring the many colonnaded walkways that line almost every street. It was at one point compulsory to have these built on every street, so they're an ubiquitous feature of the city. Unfortunately, it rained for much of the time that I was there, but if you want to be anywhere in rainy weather, it's Bologna, since you can get from A to B all over the city without getting wet! Many of the colonnades also have pretty decorated ceilings or other interesting individual flourishes as well.







This was something like out of The Birds - look how they're all flying straight at me!

Statue of Neptune by day

And his lounging shadow by night


The two towers of Bologna - they seemed to be leaning at much crazier angles than this photo shows
I'll put a bit more about what I actually did in Bologna next time, but you can't talk about Bologna (or visit Bologna) without focusing a bit on the food. Even within Italy, Bologna is famous for its good food, and of course we all know Spaghetti Bolognese.... Or do we? I didn't try, but apparently if you ask for spaghetti bolognese in Bologna you'll get anything from a facepalm to an expression of horror. Ragù alla bolognese is a real thing, but this meat sauce is traditionally served on tagliatelle, not spaghetti (or in lasagne of course). I also found that it tasted subtly different. The traditional variety is made of a blend of three meats (I'm guessing beef, lamb and pork but not sure) and has a real melt-in-your-mouth quality to it. It also seemed less tomatoey than what I'm used to. In any case, the two lasagnes (made with green pasta) and the tagliatelle I had while there were very yummy!

I also tried another speciality, tortelloni, served in a broth and filled with what seemed to be a sort of pork filling. Another dish I had was a bolognese cutlet - veal covered with prosciutto and parmesan. I only had this because it was on a fixed-price menu, it's not the sort of thing I would normally order. It was okay, but not my favourite thing I had in Bologna. There's one other speciality I read about, mortadella, a sort of pork sausage, but I didn't get to try that.

And talking of looks of horror - I asked a waiter if he had rosé and he said no, but they had white and red and he could "make me some" if I wanted. No thanks!!

15 comments:

  1. What amazing streets. I want to go! Mx
    Ps was it you who stole my Moll Flanders, then!?

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    1. I know I read it on a flight to Europe once, but I think it was my own copy!

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  2. Let me get this straight - Moll Flanders got started 'cos she had a cellphone that wouldn't work in Italy?

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    1. Exactly! (To the best of my recollection anyway...)

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  3. Homemade rose by simply swishing red and white wine together. I would have loved to have seen your face after he proposed this rose al bolognese!
    My stupid phone also only works in France and have logistical issues like this when leaving the country as well. Good thing the deli was open!

    I'm loving these adventures in Italy, keep 'em comin'!!!

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    1. Ha yeah, not the same thing buddy! Are you with Free too? Hate it, but the 2€ rate is just too good to switch just because I have issues communicating with/in the outside world.

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  4. Mmm! Sounds like a delicious visit! You're making me hungry even though I just ate lunch. And lol about the rose! I hate how so many (non French) people think that rose is made by mixing red and white wine. Uhh... no.

    And my boyfriend has Free, and his phone works outside of France. It might just be the type of phone you have??

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    1. I don't think it was my phone, it used to work ok - maybe he has the 20€ contract instead of the 2€? It definitely was a yummy trip!

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  5. Hmmm - 3 meats eh? Being continental europe, horse, goat and donkey would be my bet!

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    1. Sounds good to me! Haven't tried horse yet, but as noted recently I did try donkey already!

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  6. There is a huge scandal going on in the Uk at the moment as Horse DNA has been found in lots of processes frozen foods and burgers.. I thought it was amusing that you were unsure what meat was in your Ragù alla bolognese and really didn't care.

    Everybody seems to be horrified at the thought that they may have been eating horse! ......, to me meat is meat, whether it be cows, sheep, horse or dog.

    Interestingly the meat seems to have been supplied by French or Belgian firms.

    Love Denise

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    1. Amazing when she wouldn't even eat tomatoes when she was little, cos she didn't like the look of the seeds, haha! Gwan's Mum (GM) x

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    2. Now, now, I still won't eat raw tomatoes, let's not go crazy! I've seen the horse scandal in the news - it's fair enough not to eat horse by surprise, but I agree that there's no real difference between horses and cows, just tradition that we eat one and not the other.

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  7. By jove, you've found the secret recipe for rosé! Just mix equal portions, or maybe 1/3 red and 2/3 white wine together and voilà -- rosé. I'm so happy that the nice man let you use his phone, although imagine the tales that you would be able to tell if you had become a prostitute. In any case, I'm fairly sure that they don't have to go through such rigorous interviews as the one that you recently did in Belgium! ;)



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    1. Heresy! Just to be clear, didnt have to prostitute myself for the phone call either haha! Phew!

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