It was delightful to discover Ciao Bologna, the blog of an American expat couple, Audrey and Luke, who have been living in Bologna for two years. In Audrey’s words: “I left my corporate job in the networking industry to follow a handsome biomedical engineer to Italy, where he was sent for a work assignment. Living in Italy has kindled my passion for good food and its power to build community and healthy food cultures. In my free time, I volunteer with Slow Food Bologna, work on organic farms through WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms), linger in Bologna’s farmers’ markets, and enjoy traveling Italy to try each region’s unique cuisine. I’ve also been exploring my family’s Italian roots (my great-grandma is from Molise and my great-grandpa from Calabria) and I’m in the process of applying for Italian dual citizenship.“
Ciao Bologna showcases Audrey’s passion for discovery, including beautiful photos and such great posts as Best Gelaterias in Bologna and a Day in Modena. I’m thrilled she’s joined in to share her advice for A Golden Day in Bologna:
I feel lucky to have landed in Bologna, often named as one of the most livable cities in Italy. Bologna is a medieval city, home to monumental dishes like tagliatelle al ragù, tortellini in brodo, and lasagna alla bolognese.
Photo from http://www.myunox.com
It’s also a modern and progressive city with a gastronomic revolution in full swing. Here I offer up a Golden Day in Bologna that offers up a mix of old and new; one that includes options for lighter fare, takes you outdoors, and gives you a sense of Bologna’s fresh flair.
Start out at Fram Cafè (via Rialto, 22/c, 3334355545 – Closed Sat morning and Sun), a cozy cafe owned by mother-daughter duo Elena and Nicole.
Next, walk to Piazza Santo Stefano— my favorite piazza in the city. Find a sunny spot to sit along one of the ledges and take in the scene.
Check out the Basilica di Santo Stefano, also known as Sette Chiese (seven churches) because it was seven churches connected; four remain today. Legend goes that Dante spent time here in 1287 and characters in his Divine Comedy were inspired by the capitals in the cloister courtyard.
Next, stroll the city’s famous historic market quarter, the Quadrilatero, to oogle at fresh produce, prosciutto, and cheese. Check out famous shops: Atti, Tamburini, and Simoni and the grocery and cookbook sections of Eataly. Stock up on souvenirs: I like the 10 year-old slightly sweet balsamic from Gilberto (they do tastings on request).
Here are some ideas for lunch:
La Baita (Via Pescherie Vecchie 3a – Closed Sun,051223940) where they serve meat and cheese plates by region: Emilia, Romagna, Toscana, and more.
Prima della Pioggia (Via de’ Falegnami, 14 ,051271296), a bright bistro where Mediterranean flavors meet modern English influences.
After lunch, enjoy an outdoor spot, such as Giardini Margherita, just outside Porta Castiglione. Walk the mile loop around the park, plant yourself in the grass, or grab a bench for some people watching.
Or there is Parco Villa Ghighi, a tranquil park in the hills with a great view of Bologna’s city center. Walk to Porta San Mamolo, cross the boulevard, continue to the second branch street called San Mamolo (you’ll see bus stop 29-Villa Ghigi; you can pick up the 29-B bus on Via Rizzoli). The branch street takes you into the park. Walk up hill until you find a good view.
If you’re in the mood for gelato, go to La Sorbetteria (Via Castiglione 44, Closed Monday, 051233257). Or try the Cavour, made with bits of pastry crust and Amalfi lemons, at Cremeria Funivia (Piazza Cavour, 1/d, Closed Monday,0516569365). Their pink grapefruit (pompelmo rosa) and almond (mandorla) granita are also excellent choices.
If the afternoon is young, check out Bologna’s gorgeous history museum in Palazzo Pepoli (Via Castiglione 8, Closed Mon). The displays are in Italian but English audio guides are available. I recommend the second floor, which covers more recent history.
Photo by Peter Zullo http://www.nuok.it
Now you have a choice of wonderful places for aperitivo…
Camera a Sud (Via Valdonica 5, 051 0951448 ), a bar with a hipster-vintage vibe serving food and drink in the ex-Jewish Ghetto. Go early or reserve a table.
Enoteca Italiana (Via Marsala 2b, 051 235989), a wine shop/bar where you can grab vino with a plate of meat and cheese. I recommend local favorites pignoletto frizzante (a sparkling white wine) or Sangiovese (red wine).
Here are some ideas for dinner:
For meat eaters and traditional Bolognese cuisine: Go to Vicolo Colombina (Vicolo Colombina 5/b, 051233919 ), just steps from the main piazza, Piazza Maggiore. People rave about their lasagne alla bolognese and torta di riso.
For seafood and vegetarian: Head to Sale Grosso (Vicolo De’ Facchini 4, 051 231721 -Closed Sun-Mon)
Stay at Hotel Touring (Via De’ Mattuiani 1/2, 051 584305). They have a rooftop terrace with a 360° view of Bologna’s skyline of red roofs. In the spring and summer, you can have breakfast or aperitvo on the terrace; there’s also a jacuzzi!
Here are some other tips:
From June 20 – August 14, there’s free outdoor movies at night in the city’s main piazza, Piazza Maggiore.
On weekends and holidays the city shuts down two perpendicular streets in the heart of the city center (via Rizzoli and via Indipendenza) allowing pedestrians to enjoy a leisurely stroll.
Don’t forget to take a gander at the Due Torri, Bologna’s twin towers–they are hard to miss!
Grazie mille Audrey! I hope to meet you when I return to Bologna….soon!
Click here for the Bologna Tourism Site