Day 7: A tour of Bologna

Our breakfast included the strawberries from Basilicata (a southern region of Italy) that we picked up at the market. They were pretty tasty and large.

For our first day and a half, we explored less than a square kilometre of the city.

To get a better overview of the area, we took 2 of the tourist tours. First the San Luca express «train», which is a little collection of connected cars. It goes up the hill to the Sanctuary of San Luca, which we had no real interest in visiting. We just wanted the views.

The train leaves from Piazza Maggiore.

The route uphill is covered by porticoes built mainly in the late 17th century. Apparently the Bolognese trek up to San Luca on Easter Mondays.

There are paintings of some sort and plaques along the route but no one walking uphill looked like they were having fun. The audio guide claims runners and cyclists like the covered route.

We returned to Piazza Maggiore and found a nearby spot for lunch.

The audioguide claimed Pignoletto was only grown on Bologna hills but the wine we had with lunch was from Modena.

More Mortadella and a soft cheese called something like squaschero—it’s not in my Italian dictionary—with pistachio on top. It reminded me of runny Brie

We also had salads. We then took the hop on hop off bus which went to places outside the historic centre.

Kill me if you see Scott and me wearing matching hats
View from San Michele in Bosco
San Michele in Bosco

The above is the church of San Francesco but what is more interesting is there are two pyramids that house sarcophagi of two professors from University of Bologna. Bologna claims to have the oldest university. The audioguide claimed this is the only city whose most important funerary monuments are professors rather than political or religious figures.

Some of the old city wall

When we returned to Piazza Maggiore, I needed to find a bathroom.

We went inside San Pedronio. No public washrooms. I guess you are only supposed to pray, not pee.

We headed to San Domenico, where I wanted to see a statue by the young Michelangelo who worked in Bologna early in his career—way before he carved the Pietà in St Peter’s or the David in Florence.

First, we stopped at a bar that had the dreaded bathroom with a toilet that had no seat. Beggars can’t be choosers. Or the adage for oldsters: never pass up an opportunity to use a bathroom. At least it had toilet that worked, toilet paper and a sink with running water.

Then we went into San Domenico. The altarpiece was mainly by Nicolas Pisano. Michelangelo carved the angel holding a candle on the side of the altar. It’s on the right hand side of the photo.

Scott was completely underwhelmed. The statue is definitely no David. It’s barely taller than a foot or 30 cm in metric terms.

At least it brought us within a block of a recommended gelateria. We had been in Italy for over 48 hours and I still hadn’t had a gelato. Scott sat in the park across the street while I ordered. I asked for medio or medium, which is usually 2 scoops but Cavour gelateria does not do single scoops so a medium was three scoops. Darn—extra gelato.

In the distance you can see the two towers, the most famous in the historic centre. There are around 40 extant towers in the city. You can climb to the top of one of them, which students do when they graduate along with a number of other practices like wearing their gowns and reciting poetry in public places. We saw a group in their gowns but they were just walking.

For dinner (2 hours later) we went to Ciacco on Via S. Simone, 1/c. It was recommended for its seafood in a meat-centric city.

The place was more upscale than it looked as we started with an amuse bouche.

Potato, saffron, a fish I can’t remember
Who knew Bologna grew riesling?

We order fish dishes so the server recommended a local Riesling. It was very good. Especially for the price.

Langoustine and Sicilian prawns (raw) or Rob, Tim and Stephen as Scott named them
Amber jack tartar
Mixed fried seafood with fried green apple and ginger mayo
Monk fish, guanciale and artichokes
Pre-dessert zabiglione, kiwi and vanilla crumbs
Three chocolate semifreddo with what was called lampone (raspberry) but was maybe blueberry sauce

We were more than full although the servings had been reasonably sized but our server treated us to a digestif:

Amaro means bitter. This wasn’t too strong and much more sippable than Jagr or Zwak or other herbal liqueurs but still, I would not order it.

All in all, this was a meal with a number of new taste experiences and quite enjoyable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s