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Report 1933: Le Marche & Umbria: Three Women, Truffle Dogs and an Uncooperative GPS

By Pokey from MA, Spring 2011

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Page 2 of 14: Bologna, Hiking up to San Luca, a Bucket List Item Done!

photo by Mindy Smith

Colleen and Pokey ready to walk up the many steps to San Luca

After a delightful sleep, the three of us meet downstairs for breakfast. We are advised to go a little later in the morning as a huge group of Polish tourists is eating earlier and then boarding their bus for Rome. They are in Italy for the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

Advice well taken as I watch from my window as they board their bus.

Nothing too exciting about breakfast but my main focus is strong coffee!

Although the weather is a tad on the rainy/gloomy side we know that we only have today to walk under the 666 Portico arches to San Luca ... a “bucket list” check off for myself and Colleen. We grab a taxi to Portico di San Luca, and walk up over 500 steps to the church. The three of us all are active physically but it is quite a workout for us “over 50” hot mamacitas! I am sweatin’ like a pig and keep lunch at Meloncello (Via Saragozza, 240a) afterward as my focus. The view from the top, although cloudy, is well worth the calories burned off! Our trek back down is a *snap* and we are ready to enjoy a delicious lunch.

The high recommendations of Meloncello did not disappoint. Eccellente! No menu to look at, you’re told of the different selections for that day. You can’t go wrong, I’m sure, with any of the choices. Super friendly and fun staff! Colleen and I both order the Gnocchi with burro and salvia (aka sage). Mmmm mmmmm good! Michele has the pasta with sausage ragu, we all agreed hers is the best!

We take a taxi back to Centro where we walk through the outdoor market stalls and tell Michele about our tour here with Rafaella in May, 2009. Michele is having trouble using her Visa card and rental phone, so I help her call the bank and get things in order so she can shop! Even though she alerted her bank of her travel dates, they still mucked it up...

Many stores are closed for the afternoon, so we stop into a cute cafe for coffee. Afterward we go inside San Petronio Basilica. There is a tour group standing near the chapel where the famous 15th-century fresco, painted by Giovanni da Modena, shows a scene from Dante Alighieri's Inferno, and depicts Muhammad in Hell being devoured by demons. We remembered, from our tour in 2009, that terrorists were arrested for plotting to blow up the church because of this fresco.

We want to see the fresco “lit up” so Colleen puts in her 20 cent coin and bam! The huge tour group of Germans bolts for the steps to peer inside! We have to elbow our way up so we could see the fresco! Seriously, they couldn’t afford a 20 cent piece? We are flashin’ the evil eye as quickly as we can to each of them! Ach! I may have accidentally tripped a few of them. *wink wink*

Taxi back to hotel. Marcello calls to say there has been a change of plans. Rob and Jeff (aka Carmine) were to join us for dinner but they only arrived in Bologna that day from the States and are too jet lagged. Lucky for us, we are now invited to a delicious meal at the home of Marcello and Raffaella! It is great to see Raffa again and she tells us the fantastic news that she will be joining us on the Le Marche tour! We also get to see again, their sweet daughter Francesca (an excellent pasta maker) and their son Tommaso. Francesca fills us in on her job and exciting life. For dinner, the best homemade tortellini in brodo, grilled veggies and (of course) parmigiano reggiano cheese. Homemade gelato with strawberries for dessert ... lots of vino and laughs!

We leave tomorrow for Senigallia, Le Marche. Day one of our "Food and Fish Lover’s Tour!"

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