Monday, June 18th
First a little more about my hotel. Hotel Porta San Mamolo is quite an interesting hotel. I had to pay close attention when shown to my room and later got lost a couple of times finding it. My room was on the second floor after walking through this maze of outdoor and indoor corridors. As I mentioned earlier, I thought there must have been a mistake as I asked for a single room, but this room was huge! There even was a couch in the room!! I was staying for one night but still there were tons of towels (the fluffy type) and soaps and shower caps, etc. The shower was wonderful and the bed was also huge!
I had been to Bologna a couple of times before; once on a day trip and once for an overnight stop. When making my itinerary this year, I thought about 4 days in Bologna but then decided on wanting one smaller place to stay instead of all cities (since my other stops would be Venice and Rome). I know that one night is definitely not “slow travel” but it would have been six hours and 3 train stops to Cortona and so I chose Bologna as my half way point.
This year, I was much more organized with my packing and so I only had to take a few things out and really did not lose much time except the taxi each way to make this stop. And with the canceled train and last minute changes which ended up taking me four and a half hours instead of three hours to get to Bologna from Rovato, I don’t even want to think about what my day of traveling would have been like if I went straight to Cortona from Rovato.
After dropping off my bags, as I mentioned earlier, I ate at a little restaurant right down the street called Al Sangiovese which was recommended to me by the hotel. Because I was there on a Monday, unfortunately most of the “famous” Bologna restaurants were closed. One of the things I love about Bologna is the food. I had a very delicious lunch at Al Sangiovese The service was great and all the other customers appeared to be locals from Bologna. When leaving, I made a dinner reservation there that night so that I would not have to spend part of my day looking for another place to eat.
I went back to my hotel, was shown to my room, and then headed out for the afternoon. Bologna is a town full of energy. It is also a pretty easy town to navigate. Although you need to watch out for cars, motorcycles, and bikes, when you get close to the main piazza, the area becomes a pedestrian only area which is nice. One of the famous things about Bologna are all the porticoes. I took a lot of pictures along the way. I then headed into the main piazza, Piazza Maggiore. I love spending time in this piazza. The day that I was there, they were setting up a stage and putting out a bunch of chairs for a dance marathon that would be taking place the next few days and nights. Too bad I didn’t know about this when making my plans. It would have been fun to watch. There was also a Charlie Chaplin exhibition going on much of the week or possibly month. I took a bunch of pictures, wandered in a few shops, went into the Basilica di San Petronio, which is huge church, and then wandered into the big library. After spending some time in Piazza Maggiore, I wandered down one of the side streets where you will find lots of fruit and vegetable stands. I then headed over to the twin towers.
One of my passions when traveling in Italy is climbing towers. The last time I stayed in Bologna, I was still very jet lagged and passed on climbing the Torre degli Asinelli, which is one of the taller towers in Italy with nearly 500 steps. This time I was definitely climbing the tower. I had to stop a few times to rest on the way up to the top of this tower. There are signs posted where the tops of other towers are on the way up. The Pisa tower sign was about three quarters of the way up. But the climb was worth it as the views at the top were spectacular! I was glad that I walked around the town a little first as I could recognize much of what I saw earlier in the afternoon. I definitely have had a workout these past two days.
By now I was thinking GELATO. I saw some people eating gelato and followed their trail. Gelateria Gianni! I hit the jackpot! I stood in line and saw when I got closer to the front that this was one of the places where you pay first and then you choose your flavors. I ordered what many would think of as a strange combo of pistachio and peach. The peach gelato in Italy is wonderful and I have not had one yet. For some reason, pistachio has been my thing this summer to I ordered the combo. In the past, some sort of chocolate has always been in the mix but since I have found out that chocolate (one of my all time favorite foods) is a definite migraine trigger for me, chocolate has been out. YUMMY, both flavors were heavenly. I did however have to concentrate on first eating the peach and then the pistachio as they did not mix well together.
I wandered into a few more shops and took a different route where I became just a little lost back to my hotel. I had another delicious meal of spinach and ricotta tortelloni with burro and salvia at Al Sangiovese and then went to bed. I was exhausted from a long day of travel and then the walk to the top of the tower. I will definitely return to Bologna again!