You know, the food Americans think is Italian.
And, now living here I know exactly how wrong those thoughts are.
Case in point. Going to Bologna and getting a quintessential Italian bowl of pasta that looks little like what an American would identify as spaghetti bolognese.
|tagliatelle con ragu|
The good news? The real stuff is SO. MUCH. BETTER.
I checked out the city of Bologna for the first time this weekend. A little advance research led me to discover that it is most well known for its food.
Enter high expectations for lunch.
With my colleague, Peggy, I caught the fast train to Bologna Saturday morning, scooping up TrenItalia's winter Saturday's 2 for 1 deal. It's only an hour away, so it's an easy trip from Milan.
This is the Basilica San Petronio in Piazza Maggiore, the main square in the center of the town. A couple of interesting facts about this church. One, you clearly notice the outside. They began building it of marble, but never finished the facade. The architect had plans to build a church so grand it would overshadow St. Peter's in Rome. Apparently, Pope Pius IV put the kibosh on that idea.
On the interior of the church is a zodiac sundial on the floor. I was expecting something circular, and thank goodness for Peggy, otherwise I would have completely missed this long diagonal line. It was originally created to settle a dispute about whether the earth moved around the sun, or vice versa. Only solar movement was noted. #surprisesurprise
I had found a lot of great information researching, including some secrets of Bologna, which were new to Peggy, even though she's been to visit at least six times!
Bologna is well known, and on the UNESCO World Heritage List, for its many porticoes and archways. It was interesting to read that the building of many of the porticoes and rooms above them began as a need to find housing for many students that arrived in Bologna when the university was started. Bologna is home to Europe's oldest university.
Apparently, Bologna used to be home to a myriad of towers, placed throughout the city. Now, two towers prominently remain, though remnants of up to twenty may still exist. The taller of the two towers, the Asinelli, is 97.2 m tall and the top can be reached by climbing nearly 500 stairs.
We took a pass on the stair climbing this time around.
Though it might have been useful in working off the lunch that was to come.
The neighboring smaller tower, the Garisenda, is like the second coming of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but in square. In the 1300's the lean had become so significant the tower was cut off, giving it the nickname of the 'chopped tower'.
|The taller of Bologna's two main towers.|
Peggy and I also hunted down a small area known as the 'whispering walls' where you can hear each other talk from across the room. I was suspicious, but it definitely worked. We could quietly say something into the corner and then be heard by each other across the room. This 'site' was definitely not marked and took us a few minutes to figure out. Only when we saw some teenagers sneak into the corners did we figure it out.
Want to find this secret?
|Peggy in her corner!|
|a surprising view!|
And we had an amazing lunch there.
So go. On an empty stomach.
|tortelloni stuffed with ricotta, with a sage and butter sauce|
But, still found a few more gems worthy of sharing.
|Found this guy on the top of a cemetery fence|
|I wonder if a salon resides behind this tapparelle.|
|Came across this bubble maker twice during our day and the reactions of the |
bambini were priceless...and his bubbles were amazing.
Have you been to Bologna? Or now want to go? I hope so! I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
Other useful links:
Italy Project 365
Bologna day trip resources