Thursday, May 12th, 2011

No, this does not refer to that American luncheon meat which is in itself a pale imitation of the magnificent monster salami from Bologna.

It’s a lovely city in Emilia-Romagna. I visited there several years ago and plan to return before long. It has a some nicknames. One, that I’m familiar with is “la grassa” (the fat) because of it’s cuisine. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, it is considered to have one of the best if not the best food in Italy. Another one is “la dotta” (the learned one) because it has the oldest university in Europe. Maybe the world for all I know. It was founded in 1088! Yet another nickname is “la rossa” which apparently started because of the the red roofs but more recently, since WWII, more refers to it’s politics. Think of any city with a major university and you know that the left flourishes in an intellectual environment. Of course the downside of the university, at least in my opinion, is that with a huge student population it can be a little, well, infested with students. Still, when I was there, much of the city was not overrun with them. It would be great were I of that age but students can be a bit of a pain for me if they’re everywhere.

Bologna has a couple of particularly well known landmarks. One of these is a set of two towers near what is considered the very center of town. At one time the city had as many as 180 towers. As in San Gimignano wealthy families engaged in conspicuous consumption by trying to outdo one another by building a tower bigger than the others. A second landmark is the statue of Neptune along with what appear to be mermaids that are, well, lactating in a big way.

One outstanding everyday feature of Bologna is the porticos. There are 38 kilometers of these in the city center alone. So you can literally walk for miles out of the summer sun or the rain. It’s really a lovely place. It is quite a regional center and therefore has lots of business activity including trade fairs and the like. The result is that there are lots of quite nice hotels for business travelers. It really is not on many tourist maps however so it doesn’t have a lot of lower cost hotels that cater to that kind of traveler. Perhaps this has changed somewhat by now but was certainly the case when I was there.

As far as home grown business with worldwide names consider Ducati motorcycles, Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. What? Is it something in the air around there? Ducati has a terrific motorcycle museum and I definitely want to visit that when I’m there. I’m not so excited about the others since I think of them as rich man’s toys and if I were to buy the local product it would be the not so rich man’s motorcycle.

One last thought – Bologna is the birthplace of not only ragu, but lasagna, ravioli and tortollini. The local available ingredients include prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano cheese. I’m looking forward to the luscious food of the area when I visit. Does anyone out there have memories of a visit to Bologna or planning, like I am, a visit in the future?

One Response to “Bologna”

  1. Italy Bound - Dreaming In Italian Says:

    […] town so out went Sienna, Lucca and Montepulciano even though I love them all. So the winner is: Bologna. I spent a few days there once and found it a great place. The food is great and they had at least […]

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