I’m a lucky girl. A few months ago, Marie Lu asked me to accompany her on her business trip to Bologna, Italy and I happily obliged! Despite the fact that she had work for 70% of the time during the trip, we had a great bonding experience.
Otherwise, while she worked and met with her international publishers, I wandered around the city on my own and ate gelato every day. I did a lot of sight seeing although I have to admit, my favorite part was the food, the wine and just sitting at an open cafe while enjoying the warm sun. I’ve become a fan of Bologna.
Bologna is not known as a tourist destination as much as Venice, Florence and Rome. There are some tourists but not a whole lot. It is mostly known for the really good cuisine… and yes, they did have delicious bologna which regretfully, I don’t think I’ll find anywhere else! The city has a handful of tourist spots and museums but not as much as the other major towns – I think it would be possible to see everything in one day. I took my time within the three days we were there but even though I did a lot of walking, I didn’t exhaust myself. There was a lot of opportunities to sit back and relax. Or go shopping, which I also did a lot of.
We loved the town’s famous food market. It was very small but it was enough to make you want to eat ALL THE THINGS. They even had balsamic vinegar bottles in one shop that were worth up to $200 USD! Crazy. That’s the good stuff, I guess. We had the best freshly made Greek yogurt from one of the delis, which we enjoyed in the open plaza with some strawberries we bought from one of the fruit and vegetable stands. It was absolute heaven!
Speaking of delicious food, on the night we arrived, we walked to the closest food spot near our hotel. It was a cluster of smaller restaurants who shared a large menu. You can sit at one of the outdoor tables and order any food from any of the restaurants from just one of the servers. It was an interesting idea and I thought it worked out well. We had a yummy, truffle pizza with thin crust and two different kinds of bruschettas – the vegetable one was our favorite. On our second night, after getting turned away by the fancier restaurants, we decided to go for a rather busy looking ristorante and enjoyed a plate of meat and cheese. After our meal, our waiter (he was super cute, we said yes to everything he suggested!) recommended this dessert which was essentially cream puffs covered in chocolate mousse. I’ve forgotten what it was called but it was my favorite from our trip.
We had tons of pasta, wine and I even tried wild boar for one of our dinners. We went to a super-duper-secret foodie spot which Marie’s agent, Kristen, made us swore to not blog about… so I will not blog about it. ;) Sorry, guys. All I can say is that it was an absolutely unique dining experience!
I also want to note that Hotel Europa had an amazing continental breakfast buffet. Highly recommended place to stay, just for the breakfast food alone. There was cold cut meat, cheese, croissants and fruit every morning. The temptation to sit there all morning and binge was high.
Marie’s editor, Ari, recommended the best gelato place in Bologna called La Sorbetteria Castiglione. It was not an easy place to find since it was ways away from the main city center. It was a long walk but we have to admit, the journey was worth the most amazing gelato that we will ever have in our lives.
We did visit Florence during our last day in Italy since it was an easy, half an hour train ride from Bologna. It was quite a contrast since Florence is very much a tourist destination and you can feel it everywhere, with souvenir stands at every corner. Even the men were more aggressive in Florence! Sigh…! Bologna boys were so sweet and cute!
We overdosed on museums and statues in Florence and spent hours inside the Uffizi Museum. By the time we were done with the Uffizi, we were pooped and there was a long line to see the statue of David so we skipped it and found a cafe to sit, eat and chat instead.
Oh yes, the first thing we did was climb the church’s dome — which was pretty grueling. So many stairs! At least the majority of the stairs were rebuilt and were not as medieval. Medieval stairs are absolutely terrifying to climb!
The view at the top was definitely worth it.
I definitely would urge people to visit Bologna, especially if you are a food traveler. I would want to go back just to relax, experience Italian culture and cuisine. I am pretty sure there were still plenty of delicious food we didn’t get to eat and it would be worth the second visit one day.
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