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Report 1104: Perfect Piemonte and Bella Bologna: A Succulent Journey for the Senses and Soul

By Palma from California, Fall 2006

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Page 12 of 18: Bologna Markets: Foodie Heaven

photo by Palma

Chocolate Tortellini

Our Bologna morning routine seemed to work like this: I would wake up by 7:00, jump in the shower, and read in the breakfast room until Brad emerged around 8:30. Our cute server learned by the second morning to start me off with a large pot of Caffe Americano, and an equally large pot of steamed latte, and check back regularly to refill it before I was completely out. When Brad arrived, I would switch to doppio espresso, and continue to add my own steamed milk. She would eye my endless stash of Sweet&Low in a ziplock in my purse, and smile.

Today’s loose plan was to cover Bologna’s “food streets” and market area. We feasted our eyes and camera on produce stalls, and shop after shop of every kind of fresh food. There were fresh pasta’s of every shape, size, flavor, and filling, that made you want to LIVE here long enough to sample every one. There were wonderful salumerias, meat markets, cheese stores, fish stands, and a deli with every kind of prepared food, side dish and salad imaginable. Our first purchase was in a kitchen shop where I bought two more brass ravioli press cutters to complete my collection of shapes; and a darling olive oil can that reminded me of my mother’s Italian kitchen as a child.

Next, we bought chocolates shaped like tortellini, and two kinds of fig preserves, one with balsamico. If only we could have jars in our one bag on the plane! What struck us was the artistry and pride in craftmenship of the handmade products. The breads, pastas and prepared foods were made and displayed in a creative way where the food was the art. We stopped for a wonderful cappuccino at La Bottega del Caffe. It is a three story caffe where the ground floor is a bar, the upstairs has tables to sit and drink or eat, and the basement level is a shop where they grind and package coffee beans from around the world as you watch and sniff!

We stopped at another farmacia, as yesterday’s cream was as useless as if I had been spreading Crisco or white glue on my bites. I had more confidence in this pharmacist as she said “Cortisone” in English, and told me to come back if I didn’t get relief TODAY! We crossed Via Ugo Bassi, and walked many blocks down Via Independenzia, window-shopping along the way. At 12:30, the shops closed, and it was time to stop for panini and a cold drink. We had Rar’s “Everything Bologna” notes with us, and walked to the large version of Gelato Giani, with 48 fabulous flavors of gelato. I took a photo of EACH flavor! Camogli’s Paradiso just got demoted to second place!

We continued our walking tour to “le due torre,” Bologna’s landmark towers, and from there down Via San Stefano to the church and piazza of the same name. We wandered around the area, checking out restaurants, and looking in shop windows. We stopped for coffee (AGAIN!), and then walked back to the hotel for naptime.

We were dressed for dinner early, so we headed to Piazza Maggiore for a glass of Prosecco. I took a five-minute break and ran into a tiny shop off the piazza to buy a fun ring I had been admiring in a window. Tonight’s dinner was at Restaurante Sangiovese, near our hotel. The friendly owner was charming in a very sincere way, so wanting to please his guests with food and drink. Our dinner was wonderful. Brad had gargadelli pasta with proscuitto and pesto (the house specialty), and veal scalopini with asparagus and parmegiano. It was his favorite meal so far in Bologna! I had veal tortelloni con panna, and grilled lamb chops with garlicky, roasted potatoes. Dessert was panna cotta in cioccolato sauce. We walked back to the hotel in a contented food fog.

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