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Trip Report Back from Bologna, trip report

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Background: Starting December 30, I spent 3 nights in Bologna, four in Venice, then six more in Bologna. I'll do a separate report on Venice, and focus on Bologna here. I travelled with my 24 year old son the first week, then he started a course in Bologna, and we met a couple times for dinner, but otherwise I was on my own for that part of the trip. We live in New England.

General Impressions: I fell in love with Bologna. It's beautiful, vibrant, and thriving. The historic center is compact, and traffic is limited. It's a city where people live and work, not one dominated by tourists. It has a large university which adds to the appeal. I'm a slow traveler, and it was the perfect place for me to mix walking, people-watching and sightseeing. On a typical day I would do a lot of walking, see a few sights, take breaks to eat, drink and people watch. The evenings there are fun--the whole town seems to be out for passegio--walking, shopping, eating, socializing. I was lucky to be there on New Years Eve, when there was the burning of the veccione--an enormous sculpture of an old man that represents the bad things of the old year. It was very festive.

Hotel: I stayed at the Art Hotel Novecento and it was perfect. A block off the Piazza Maggiore, very quiet. The rooms are well-designed, even the small singles, which we stayed in the first leg of the trip. The breakfast buffet was excellent, and the staff was kind and helpful.

Dinners: Our best meal was at Vicolo Colombina, where they do updated versions of traditional dishes. I had a goat cheese roulade with sweet peppers, which was delicious, then lasagna that was crazy good, memorable. My son had the gramigna all ragu, which was excellent, and a beef filet which was very good. He ordered passionfruit and Campari granita for dessert which was delicious, though a little heavy on the Campari.

Because of closings for the holidays or other bad timing we weren't able to eat at some of the traditional places I had on my list, such as Gianni, Osteria dell'Bottega and Serghei. We did have meals at three other traditional trattorias, which ranged from pretty good to good. Giampi e Ciccio was kind of a fun atmosphere, the owner (?) was friendly and lively and local people who seemed to be regulars came in and had animated conversations with him, which I didn't understand, but enjoyed anyway. I didn’t write down what we ate, though I remember good lasagna and tortellini en brodo (the broth was especially good). After, we walked down the street for delicious gelato at Creamaria Santa Stefano. On New Years Day there were almost no restaurants open and we ended up at Buca Mazonni, which was only okay. The service was slow and a little surly (the only place I felt that in Bologna) so I can’t recommend it. Da Nello was the best of these three. I had excellent risotto con fungi and my son had very good gramigna and boar with polenta that was good. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way for any of these three, but Da Nello and Giampo e Ciccio were fine.

We had a good quick simple dinner at Zeroquinquantuno (051). Just walked in off the street. The menu was pretty traditional, but it had a modern no-fuss vibe. I think we shared a plate of meats and cheeses and got pastas. Not memorable, obviously, but pleasant.

A taxi ride away, on the outskirts of the city is Osteria Satyricon, which has a fresh take on the traditional cuisine. It was a really fun atmosphere. The owner was super friendly and helpful, the food was a little mixed, but overall good, and it was a nice change of pace.

Didn’t eat there, but Trattoria Battibecoo was right around the corner from our hotel, and I heard that it was excellent. However almost everything is fish based and my son and I are not big fish eaters. The menu looked interesting, as did the restaurant, so if you go to Bologna and like fish you might want to check it out.

A couple of nights on my own, tired of big meals, I had yogurt in my room, though I did go out and walk around and enjoy the evening festivities. The city was beautifully lit for the holidays, and as I mentioned before there were always lots of people out. As a woman traveling alone I felt completely comfortable and safe.

One night on my own I ate at Eataly, where I had some very good pasta and a plate of vegetables. It was quick and easy. I love that Eatlay is also a bookstore. I spent about an hour there just looking at the covers. By the way, Bologna has a lot of bookstores.

I’ll come back to report on other food experiences (which were overall better than the dinners--there's lots of good food in Bologna!) sight-seeing, day trips, and miscellaneous.

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