(OK, we are getting caught up on posts after some technical difficulties!)
Bags are packed and we are on our way again to the city of Bologna, home to Ducati motorcycles which we know the guys in our family would love. (Did we mention our luggage is always taken care of for us and waiting in our rooms at the next hotel? Good thing too, as our suitcases are surely topping 60 lbs each after all the shopping…) Happy as always to be in the very capable hands of our talented driver, Antonio.
We arrive in Bologna to meet a new Local Guide, Tamera, for a city sightseeing tour. We started in the main square where we learned about one of the three symbols of Bologna—the first, this statue of Neptune, the Pope’s way to tell the Bolognese that he was in charge.
Bologna is known for its high student populations, the second symbol of the city. We toured the university, Biblioteca communal dell’ Archiginnasio and its Teatro Anatomico where students were taught anatomy in the 1800’s. Here students would sit and learn for up to 20 hours a day on hard wooden benches to prevent them from falling asleep.
The third and final symbol of Bologna—the food! Once again we are enamored with the Italian food markets as we walk the bustling alleys, filled with fresh food stalls, bakeries and butcher shops all filled with locals picking up their fresh produce for today’s meals.
What to do with our free couple of hours? You guessed it; we forced ourselves to do more shopping and more eating with lunch and great people-watching at an outdoor café.
After a few hours of free time, we headed out for another culinary adventure—an optional gourmet dinner excursion. En route we made a brief stop at the Mausoleum of one of the great inventors Marconi, who at the age of 25 was credited for developing the telegraph. Side note: Marconi’s mother was the granddaughter of the Irish Jameson Whiskey founder.
We were welcomed with a glass of champagne on the patio for our dinner at Locanda del Castello. The surrounding property was originally built in the 1500’s as a rest stop for the Pope. Over the years it has hosted several popes, famous artisans, and most recently in 1997, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Our gracious host, Marcello Dall’Aglio, patron and chef of Locanda del Castello, gave us an overview of our five-course dinner of all traditional area dishes made from fresh local produce.
First up, mozzarella flan on a raw zucchini salad and appetizers of morel mushroom quiche, salad with rucola cheese, zucchini flower fritters and ham with pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette. The second course was tortellini filled with ricotta cheese and green asparagus lasagna (we got the last asparagus of the season!). Then on to guinea fowl stuffed with tomato au gratin and beef fillet strips with parmesan, balsamic and grilled vegetables. The finale was a wild berry iced mouse with strawberry and grape sauce reduction. We didn’t think it possible, but we left more full than ever!
The drive back to our hotel offered beautiful sunset views…and some fun Italian music, courtesy of Giuseppe who is not only a first-rate Travel Director, but our new favorite DJ as well.
One of the nice surprises from our trip has been the wonderful people from around the world we’ve gotten to know. We closed out the evening back at the hotel lounge celebrating the 30th wedding anniversary of some fellow travelers, sharing local wines and lots of laughs. Congrats to Dennis and Cindy!
Lauren & Linda signing out…Ciao baby!