Yes, when you are watching a gangster film and the lead goes into his (it’s always a ‘Him’ unless it’s Pam Greer) favourite deli and orders ‘a Baloney on Rye’, that’s a little slice of Bologna he’s asking for.
In Bologna it’s called Mortadella and it’s just one of the delicacies you must try (if you eat animals) in this amazing city.
This holiday was one of the best city breaks I have ever experienced with every minute (except for our compulsory holiday-siestas-and-mini-bar-raiding breaks) crammed full of sights which included; art exhibitions, stunning architecture, academic delights, political history and a local free film festival screened not 50 yards from our hotel.
As we arrived we were caught up in the annual Pride parade. The city was a mass of rainbow flags, rainbow tattoos, blonde dreadlocked buskers and happy couples eating and drinking in the atmosphere. My impression was of a very young city, yet it is over 1000 years old.
We followed this with a tour of the colonnades. The city has miles of these and they even extend to the new city, sympathetically designed to fit with the medieval architecture of Old Bologna. There is even a colonnade walk of over 5km to the Basilica S. Luca (of which, more later).
And then, of course, Lunch.
A simple Lunch of Bruschetta washed down with a Pignoletto and a beer. What you can’t see in the photo is that I had my customary holiday drink which takes many forms but always follows the same pattern. It is always something I yearn for until I drink it. On this occasion it was a Campari Spritz and I was completely woozy by the third sip. Tasted sharp and sweet, just as I like it, but far too strong for me.
We went back to our hotel; The ArtHotel Commercianti (http://en.art-hotel-commercianti.com) , a comfortable, pleasant hotel which could not possibly have had a better location. It was down a quiet side street, steps away from the main square, at the side of the basilica and less than two minutes walk from the Archaeological Museum. There were too many restaurants and cafes nearby to name and, in the three days we spent in Bologna, we could not cover all the sights within a half mile radius.
For some reason, I have failed to take any photographs of the hotel bathroom. This is a major lapse on my part, given this blog’s focus on the facilities. However, I can tell you it was superb. Loads of space, black and white tiles, marble floors and, best of all, kimono style robes which I was very sorry indeed to leave behind. Toiletries were OK, nothing remarkable, but, given that we had traveled budget and without hold baggage, I was very pleased to find everything we needed, plus a little note to the effect that we only had to ask if we needed something else.
While mentioning budget flights I feel that Ryan air (who often fare very badly in reviews) and Manchester and Bologna airports deserve some praise for their mobility assistance. This was requested online at the time of booking and went with only one little hitch (a breakdown in communication on arrival at Bologna). Grazie to; http://www.bologna-airport.it, http://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/, and https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/ .
At dinner that night we felt we had to sample the eponymous sauce. We found that in Bologna it is not named ‘Bolognese’ and is not served with spaghetti. The dish is tagliatelle e ragu. And the meat eaters tell me it is nothing like the dish I used to cook in bedsits in the 70s.
I had tagliatelle with mixed vegetables and, unfortunately, it was almost identical to many of the meals I prepared in bedsits. Tinned veg. perhaps?
During our walks we had noticed the main square had been set out for a viewing. Posters proclaimed a film festival. Locals had begun to take their seats at an early point in the evening.
We found a seat at a cafe on the edge of the square within sight of the screen.
My photographs do not, by any means, do this justice. For a start, they are rubbish photographs. Just look at this one;
But, even if I was David Bailey, I don’t think I could convey the sheer fortuity of landing in a city like Bologna, sitting in the warm open air, in the company of hundreds of locals and tourists together, watching a documentary about an 89 year old french new-wave director and a young parkour-performing graffiti artist interviewing farmers, artisans, and female truck drivers in the villages of France (Visage, Villages, Agnès Vardy, JR).
After a day spent wandering the narrow streets of this old university town with the radical reputation, what more could you want?
In our next installment we will find out what happened when we;
- visited an art exhibition reminiscent of a comedy film,
- walked the colonnades,
- and discovered ‘everything was closed’ on our last full day…