Remember the quick transfer in Paris? Well guess what didn’t make it with me. Yup — my checked bag. So I arrived in Florence and had to wait 3 hours at the airport for it to arrive on the next flight. While there I spoke with a couple from Montreal who were in the same predicament — they are here for two weeks saying in Cortona with friends. Sounds delightful!
After finally collecting my bags I went to the train station and headed to Bologna. The train ride was unremarkable, but I had that moment of realization that I don’t speak Italian nearly as well as I would like. Actually, I speak fairly well, for an American, vocabulary notwithstanding. The problem is I don’t understand enough Italian. This is always an acute problem when I first arrive in Italy. I expect it will improve rapidly over the next few days, but by then I will be headed home again and the skill will atrophy. *sigh*
In Bologna checked in at the hotel and wandered off to absorb the city’s atmosphere. This is honestly the warmest month during which I have ever visited and the Bolognese piazze were packed with locals, students, and even a few other tourists. Sadly, having arrived late on a Sunday, the markets were closed. Alas, I shall have to visit again someday.
I have no photographs to offer of her enchanting streets, porticoes, churches, or other buildings. Having taken many before, I have decided that no photograph is sufficient, and certainly wouldn’t add to my experience. Rather I just wandered the town for a bit eating gelati from la Sorbetteria Castiglione. The gelati at la Sorbetteria eschew some of the typical flavors but feature Italian ingredients such as Piedmontese hazelnuts and Sicilian almonds. Frankly, I want more.
I tried sitting down to relax in Piazza Maggiore, but soon realized that my travels had left me spent and was likely to fall asleep, so instead decided to find dinner. Again I ran into trouble because many of the restaurants I was interested in trying were closed on Sunday. Still, I luckily found myself in an old wine cellar, at a place called Osteria de Poeti, where I was greeted with an hors d’oeuvre of small fried meatballs and frittata while i read the menu.
I ordered local classics: tagliatelle with bolognese sauce and cutlet alla bolognese. The former was perfect. It was incredibly well balanced with depth of flavor, yet still light, which is surprising for a meat based sauce. I make bolognese sauce, and it doesn’t suck, but this was a humbling experience. I clearly have work to do. The latter was a breaded cutlet with prosciutto and Parmesan cheese sauce. It was delicious if a bit more toothsome than I would have expected.
With dinner I had a bottle of lambrusco, the local fizzy red wine. I chose it to match the food and settle myself into the region. The bottle said “secco,” which should be sweet, but it was much drier than any lambrusco I’ve ever had back in the States. I just wish I could get it at home.
By the end of dinner I was literally sleeping at the table so settled the bill and headed back to the hotel. I stopped only briefly for another gelato, this time at Gelateria Gianni. Tonight, I chose Dad’s favorite pair: pistachio and coconut. This was the best pistachio gelato I’ve ever had, by far. The earthy nuttiness of the flavor shone through so clearly, and the gelato was so creamy, it was a revelation in gelato.
And then I went back to the hotel and fell into a coma for the night.